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Villanova Third-Year Law Student John Rafferty VLS ’12 named Fulbright Scholar

Rafferty, a Public Interest Scholar at Villanova University School of Law, to continue his work as an anti-trafficking advocate in Ecuador

Villanova, Pa. – John Rafferty, a third-year student and Public Interest Scholar at Villanova University School of Law (VLS), has been awarded a 2012-13 Fulbright Scholar grant to work with the International Organization of Migration (IOM) in its Quito, Ecuador office. A dedicated anti-trafficking advocate and human rights activist, Rafferty previously volunteered with the organization in 2011.

Upon his return to Ecuador, Rafferty will partner with government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) to spread awareness and understanding of Ecuador’s human trafficking policies and laws and the challenges facing the prosecution of such crimes. He will work to identify strategies that make counter-trafficking partnerships effective; facilitate discussions to better understand how victims are identified, protected and processed in cities that recognize the specialized needs of TIP (trafficking in persons) victims; and learn about the most effective research methods to determine the causes and motivations for TIP in individual cities.

“John Rafferty’s dedication to fighting human trafficking is an outstanding example of Villanova’s longstanding commitment to social justice,” said John Gotanda, Dean of the Villanova University School of Law. “John is using his legal skills to make a difference for thousands of trafficking victims near and far. The VLS community is proud of his achievements and his selection as a Fulbright Scholar.”

“It was such an honor when the director of IOM’s Counter-Trafficking program in Ecuador offered to partner with me in the creation of this project,” said Rafferty. “It was like a dream come true when the Fulbright program agreed that funding this project would facilitate better understanding with our neighbors to the south about what makes human trafficking such a lucrative and attractive industry in our hemisphere.”

About John Rafferty

From the sexual exploitation of women in southeast Asia to the debt bondage of foreign laborers in the Middle East, Rafferty witnessed first-hand the stark realities of human trafficking during his time as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. He chose to fight injustice by becoming an attorney, attending Villanova University School of Law, an institution known for its commitment to serving the disenfranchised members of the community through promoting social justice.

Rafferty has since dedicated his time and legal talents to anti-trafficking advocacy and training in the United States and around the world. In addition to his work with the U.N. International Organization for Migration’s Counter-Human Trafficking Team, highlights of his numerous outreach efforts include leadership of a VLS spring break service trip to provide legal aid to central Florida farm workers and work with the Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition to start a Prostitution First Offender Diversionary Program.  In recognition of his numerous volunteer legal efforts, Rafferty was chosen as a recipient of the 2012 Super Lawyers Pro Bono Award.

Prior to being named a Fulbright Scholar, Rafferty received a 2012 Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellowship to work with the Philadelphia-based Friends of Farmworkers.  Both organizations have graciously voiced their support for Rafferty’s Fulbright work and have expressed their belief that his project in Ecuador will make him a more experienced advocate for victims of trafficking. Rafferty will begin representing victims of labor trafficking in Pennsylvania upon his return to the U.S. in 2013.

About the Fulbright Program:  Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 310,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.  In the past 65 years, more than 44,000 students from the United States have benefited from the Fulbright experience. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the Department of State.

Almost 1,700 American students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 different fields of study have been offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English, and conduct research in over 140 countries throughout the world beginning this fall.   Of the 1,700 Fulbrighters, 19% are at the Ph.D. degree level, 17% are at the Master’s level, and 65% are at the Bachelor’s degree level.  Students receiving awards for this academic year applied through 600 colleges or universities.

The Fulbright Program also awards grants to American teachers and faculty to conduct research and teach overseas.  In addition, some 3,850 new foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the U.S. annually to study for graduate degrees, conduct research and teach at U.S. universities, colleges and secondary schools.

Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. The Villanova University School of Law provides broad-based legal education and its award-winning clinics and Lawyering Together Program provide free legal aid to those in need. The School is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the American Association of Law Schools. Notable alumni include:  Hon. Edward Rendell (Former Governor, Pa.), Hon. Marjorie Rendell (Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit), Richard Trumka (President, AFL-CIO), Joseph T. Sebastianelli (President and CEO, Thomas Jefferson Health Systems), Jeffrey S. Moorad (Vice Chairman, San Diego Padres) and Michael Holston (Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Hewlett-Packard Company).