Multi-lingual Wayne Law student eyes a career as a U.S diplomat

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Photo courtesy of Christina Atanasoka

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Christina Atanasoska’s parents emigrated to the United States from Macedonia in Eastern Europe, and growing up, she spent the school year in Michigan and the summer with her family in her native land, giving her a dual perspective on life.

“Because combined I was able to learn not only domestic laws and policies, but the relationship of the United States with international countries,” says Atanasoska, who earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and global studies at Wayne State University.

Wanting to be one step ahead of the game when it came to preparing for law school, at the age of 20 and with no prior legal experience, Atanasoska accepted a legal assistant position with Altair Engineering, a multi-national information technology company.

“What I enjoyed most was being able to look through and draft different types of contracts such as consulting agreements, software licensing agreements and non-disclosure agreements with multi-million-dollar companies,” she says. “This particular job made me realize I enjoy transactional law, just not the complexity of Intellectual Property.”

Atanasoska is now a rising 2L at Wayne Law.

“My parents sacrificed so much to come to the U.S. from Macedonia so I could be born and raised with more opportunities than they were given,” she says. “I always felt that it was my duty to give back to my parents and to other individuals in the community that are in need of legal help—and there is no better way to accomplish that than through the power of being an attorney.”

She adds her parents have always been—and continue to be—her No. 1 supporters when it comes to her aspirations of becoming an attorney.
“My father was diagnosed with gastric cancer and had major surgery as I was preparing to take my LSAT. While he was in recovery, I routinely went to my undergraduate classes and spent my lunch and nights at the hospital studying for my exams and the LSAT with my dad,” she says. “I’m beyond grateful he was able to beat cancer and will one day have the chance to see his daughter be sworn in as an attorney.”
One of the things she most enjoys about Wayne Law is the school’s location in the heart of Detroit.
“Not only does Wayne Law have highly accomplished and impressive professors, but it’s surrounded with history and culture,” she says.
As the newly elected vice president of the Student Board of Governors, she notes its members are the advocates and voices of the student body at Wayne Law.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic and the unexpected issues that came with remote learning, the members of SBG made sure all student concerns were immediately brought to the administration so changes could be made,” she says. “I hope to advocate on behalf of all of the students at Wayne Law by prioritizing issues related to accessibility and diversity.”
Atanasoska—who in addition to English speaks fluent Macedonian, Serbo-Croatian, German and is intermediate in Bulgarian—is particularly interested in International Law, and becoming an advocate for international human rights, whether as a practicing attorney or through academia.
“During my first year at Wayne Law, I realized I had a passion for public interest and transactional law, two legal fields that don’t usually go hand-in-hand,” she says. “On the side, my ultimate goal is to link these two areas of law together; I’m not sure how I’ll do that yet, but an idea I have is to help startup businesses in Detroit and the community by drafting their legal contracts.”
She is working this summer as a public interest extern at the Maurice and Jane Sugar Law Center for Social and Economic Justice in Detroit.
“I find the Sugar Law Center to be the perfect fit for me because of their impact on the community and their fight to bring justice to individuals in Michigan that are and continue to be wrongfully denied unemployment benefits,” she says. “I enjoy working at the Sugar Law Center so much that I exceeded my required externship hours and plan to donate an additional 50 hours to the pro-bono program at Wayne Law.” 
Concurrently, she is an International Policy and Diplomacy Fellow at the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve been given the opportunity to get hands-on international relations experience and to make an impact on issues that matter to me as a Macedonian American,” she says. “I’ve been able to gain experience in human rights advocacy by directly advocating for the Macedonian minority in Greece and in Bulgaria.”
Atanasoska’s eventual goal and dream career is to become a U.S. diplomat.
“If I had the opportunity to choose where I would be stationed, I would pick Germany because it’s the halfway mark between Macedonia and the United States,” she says.
In the upcoming year she will be a junior member of the Moot Court Team and an article editor for the Journal of Law in Society.
“I’m very excited for both of these opportunities,” she says. “If permissible, I hope to write my Note about human rights violations against minorities in Eastern Europe and how EU member countries that are party to the European Court of Human Rights ignore court rulings that they are legally obligated to follow.”
As an incoming 1L, she found attending law school remotely via Zoom during the pandemic shutdown was “terrifying.”
“All I could think about was losing Internet or missing a cold-call from my professors,” she says. “Luckily, I was in the one section that was able to attend a few classes in person once a week, so I got to briefly meet my classmates from a distance and with a mask on. I’m extremely excited to be back in person in the fall so that I can officially meet my fellow classmates and spend time studying in the law library.”
She is honored to have been chosen by BARBRI to become a student ambassador.
“There is nothing more rewarding than having the opportunity to help my fellow classmates excel for the bar exam by getting them set up with BARBRI,” she says. “BARBRI has unique videos and essay/multiple choice questions that helped me excel in my first year classes.”
During her undergrad years at WSU, Atanasoska even used her legal experience when she volunteered at Zaman International, a nonprofit in Inkster that helps marginalized women and refugees from the Middle East learn English as a second language and obtain vocational skills. Her main task was taking pictures of the beautiful aprons, blankets, and purses the sewing students sewed for their exams and creating a website to sell the items.
“Having some legal experience, I took the opportunity to draft assessment policies and the student handbook for the BOOST program,” she says. “On my first day of volunteering I met the CEO and CNN Hero Najah Bazzy, one of the sweetest and most caring individuals I’ve ever met. Even as a volunteer she considered me a part of the Zaman family and team.”
The lifelong Macomb County resident enjoys living in the Motor City area.
“Detroit has a rich history of innovation created by people from many different backgrounds and that’s what makes Detroit stand out from any other city in the U.S.,” she says. “There are countless individuals to learn from here, but there are also endless opportunities to make a meaningful impact.”
Pre-pandemic, Atanasoska loved traveling for the sole purpose of getting a new country stamp in her passport.
“So far I’ve traveled to 22 countries and have over 90 stamps in my passport,” she says. “My favorite stamp so far is from Dubai, UAE because all of the writing on the stamp is in Arabic and I aspire to learn Arabic in the near future.”
Another recent passion has been gardening and growing her own vegetables.
“When I would visit my family in Macedonia, the one thing I always looked forward to was picking fruits and vegetables from my grandfather’s garden on the slopes of the Šar Mountains,” she says. “During the pandemic lockdown, I decided to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps and take up the hobby of gardening. Although my garden is not nearly as impressive as my grandfather’s, I managed to successfully grow a wide variety of plants such as jalapeño peppers, tomatillos, chamomile and mint tea.”


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