Global view: Student eyes career in field of international law

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Law student Devon Graham-Aiyash was exposed to international travel at an early age. And so when it came time to choose her major at Michigan State University, International Relations and Affairs was a natural fit.

“My mum was born in the U.K. and immigrated over with my grandparents when she was a child,” Graham-Aiyash says. “With all of our extended family remaining in the U.K, we spent many summers going back to visit everyone. Thanks to these trips, I became infatuated with learning about other countries – their cultures, religions, languages, and of course, food. My MSU major was a clear way to expand my global knowledge past travel and into policy.”

In her final year, Graham-Aiyash did a legislative internship at the Michigan House of Representatives, andenjoyed speaking with constituents.

“It can sometimes be a trying task, especially when someone is calling about an issue they are angry or frustrated about—nonetheless, helping people directly was always purposeful work,” she says. “I think it’s easy to get frustrated with government and find yourself feeling the system doesn’t work, so to be in a position where I could connect people directly with the resources and answers they needed was very rewarding and refreshing. It’s a very humbling experience to be a cog that can actually help turn the wheel.”

When she decided to refocus her education, law school immediately came to mind.

“I  think it was the 2016 election that really pushed me to pursue law school. I was always fascinated by law, as it’s so unique in the fact that it controls our lives entirely yet is completely man made. But this election showed me the danger in that power and how important it is to have access to legal knowledge. I’m very passionate about reproductive rights and the fight against sexual assault in our country, so seeing this administration shift pushed me to finally focus on pursuing my legal education.” 

Now a 2L at Wayne Law, Graham-Aiyash initially  was interested in prosecuting sex crimes—but her focus has shifted.

“I remain deeply passionate and committed to the fight against sexual assault and domestic violence and I’m growing to realize I can put those passions to work in more than just one way. I’d like to explore opportunities within family law. I believe I have a personable personality that could go to good use in sensitive areas of the law, like divorce. I’d also like to develop a part of my practice to specifically assist survivors of domestic violence.
However, my passion for International Relations keeps International Law in the back of my mind.”

Graham-Aiyash serves as dean of the Delta Theta Phi Chapter, and also serves on the e-boards of the Women’s Law Caucus and If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice.

“I come from a family of mostly women, so fighting for our rights and true equality for all women, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, relationship status, and nationality, is so very important to me,” she says. “I love that I get to work with other incredible women to create a positive legal community within Wayne Law while also fighting for the basic and expansive rights women have been owed for quite some time.”

Through Wayne Law’s Program for International Legal Studies, Graham-Aiyash was selected for an International Public Interest Law Fellowship at the Center for Democratic Development in Ghana. But the pandemic put the kibosh on that experience. Instead, she landed a summer internship with JD Advising. She has been offered an externship with the Michigan Poverty Law Program.

A native of Indian River in northern Michigan, Graham-Aiyash and her husband, a first year medical student at the MSU College of Human Medicine, live at her grandmother’s  home. For the past four years, Graham-Aiyash has been a live-in caretaker for her grandmother who suffers from dementia.

Before the pandemic, Graham-Aiyash had visited 24 countries. Her favorite adventures include whitewater rafting the Zimbabwe’s Zambezi River, building a house in Cambodia, cuddling baby elephants in Kenya, and visiting Egypt.

One of her favorite countries is Ireland, where she worked at an Irish youth advocacy website. “I had the opportunity to write for the site, work in sex education workshops, go to Belfast for a community connection project, and speak to people all across the country for partnerships,” she says.

She also runs a TikTok account dedicated to fighting fat stigma and sexism, and already has more than 250,000 followers.

Boxing has been a passion for the past five years,. “It’s made a huge difference in managing stress and feeling good.

“My right hook is especially impressive,” she says with a smile.



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