Kinga Mierzyńska: Why did you decide to study law? In retrospect are you satisfied that you have made that decision?
Dena Dervanovic: I decided to study law at the age of 12! I know, it sounds strange, but that fun-fact depicts how determined I am as a person. I was aware of what a big role law has in a society and how much can be done with it. I was always drawn to International Law in particular. Ever since I was a child, I wanted to help make a difference and I think I have made the right choice. I am truly passionate about law.
I'm interested in what legal studies in Montenegro looks like. Could you briefly describe the system of your studies? How long they last and what opportunities you have after completing this course?
Studies in Montenegro last 3 years for an LL.B degree. If one wants to go further, there is a possibility of studying for a Specialist degree for one year, which I did in International and European Law. An LL.M degree is obtained one year after the Specialist degree. After having obtained an either one of the aforementioned there are chances of working as an intern at the courts, law firms, companies, NGOs, governmental institutions etc.
You got “Swedish Institute Study Scholarship” and do your Master of Laws at Lund University. You choose “International Human Rights Law” for your specialization and earlier you did your Bachelor of Laws from “International and European Law”. Why you chose precisely those two field of law?
Like I said supra, I want to make a difference and when I was deciding on my Master Programme, it seemed quite clear to me that Human Rights Law is the area I want to specialize in. International and European Law and International Human Rights Law complement each other, making my basis for practicing law successfully that much stronger. I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to study at Lund University thanks to the Swedish Institute.
Could you tell me more about your work in Jus Humanis and United Nations Development Programme? What was your motivation to gain experience in these organizations?
When it comes to the United Nations, it is something I have always wanted to try myself in. I share the UN values to the fullest extent. I did an internship at UNDP, in the Social Inclusion Cluster - Gender Programme because I have always felt strongly about gender equality and wanted to deepen my knowledge on the matter while working with the issue first-hand. It has helped me gain tremendous experience.
My work as President of Jus Humanis just commenced. Jus Humanis is a human rights organization that aims to raise awareness on human rights issues all over the world. I find it important to discuss human rights issues on every level: locally, nationally, internationally. We are trying to do that with Jus Humanis. We organize local events that tackle national and international issues. I think it is quite important to take part in the discussion on human rights issues, even whilst still studying. I believe proactivity is very important, which probably clarifies my active involvement in any community I find myself in.
How do you want to improve your career prospects and employability skills in nearly future?
I am the type that constantly improves. I do not like stagnation, and I always seek ways of improving myself personally, academically and professionally. It just takes a little courage at first, really. Courage to seek and claim opportunities and ultimately, courage to admit your own flaws and attempt to improve them. I also think it is quite important to broaden your view to more than just law.
Do you remember when you joined the European Law Students’ Association ELSA Montenegro and then ELSA International? Could you tell me about the most interesting and noteworthy projects you lead or take part in ELSA?
I remember it quite well, in fact. As a new member of ELSA Montenegro I immediately took part in the organization of the International Council Meeting that took place in Budva in 2009. After that, I got elected as Vice President for Student Trainee Exchange Programme of ELSA Montenegro. I enjoyed tackling the issue of traineeships in Montenegro. It was an important project for me; my team and I have certainly made somewhat of a difference with our efforts.
When it comes to ELSA International, I still get shivers when I think of my elections to the International Board. In ELSA International, I continued my work as Vice President for Student Trainee Exchange Programme, but this time, on a much larger scale. I had a wonderful team of almost 300 people across Europe working hard on a completely restructured, rebranded STEP system. Eventually, our team had achieved groundbreaking results that have created a solid foundation for the years to come. Last but not least, I was lucky to be elected in a fantastic board. I could not imagine that year without these people because we were each others’ biggest support and biggest critics which helped us grow a lot, personally and professionally.
You were Vice President for Student Trainee Exchange Programme and Director of the EDF Foundation at ELSA International. In your opinion does ELSA give possibilities for you and other law students to become better lawyer and find properly job?
ELSA has played a crucial role in the way my skills developed. ELSA challenges a regular, bookish law student to think outside the box, to develop soft skills, to learn how to behave professionally even before one becomes a professional. It makes you push your own boundaries, lead projects and network, network, network.
Personally, it had a positive impact on my life. In my opinion, an active ELSA officer stands out in a sea of law students and graduates when it comes to employment as well.
How would you encourage the students from Poland to take part in studies abroad in Montenegro or Brussels?
I have always been the wanderlust type, so I think everyone should leave their comfort zone and explore international waters whenever they get the chance, at least just to try it. I believe international experience of any sort is invaluable and it enriches a person greatly. What is most important, obtaining international experience can be of great value for one’s work back in their countries of origin.
Kinga Mierzyńska – Ambasadorka Student.lex.pl na Uniwersytecie im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu