ASU Law JD grad takes international arbitration experience into legal career

November 29, 2021

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.

After earning dual bachelor’s degrees from Arizona State University and working for two years in program management post-graduation, Abbey Hawthorne knew she wanted to return to ASU to pursue her JD from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Photo of Abbey Hawthorne, ASU Law JD graduate fall 2021 For ASU Law JD grad Abbey Hawthorne, being a part of the college's Vis Moot court team provided the most defining moments in her legal studies. She now looks forward to a career in international arbitration. Download Full Image

Focusing on international law, business law and alternative dispute resolution, Hawthorne became an active member of ASU Law’s Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot (Vis Moot) court team – a role she says provided the most defining moments of her legal studies. She was recognized as the top oralist at the University of San Diego Vis International Commercial Arbitration pre-moot event and one of the top 32 oralists globally at the Vis Moot Vienna competition during her final year at ASU Law.

“Though time intensive and challenging, my role on the Vis Moot team helped grow my advocacy and legal research skills in a way that was fun, interesting and will surely pay off in my career,” said Hawthorne, who is graduating this fall and being recognized for her advocacy skills as one of 10 ASU Law students in her class honored with The Order of Barristers.

Hawthorne, who holds bachelor’s degrees in global studies and sociology as well as certificates in international studies, and religion and conflict, says she was able to get the most out of her JD education thanks to the flexibility and opportunities offered at ASU Law.

She was also able to pursue her passions by studying abroad twice during law school: a summer studying European Union law and policy at ASU Law’s partner program in Prato, Italy, and a semester in Melbourne, Australia, working on an independent study paper examining female representation on the federal courts of Australia and the U.S.

“When discussing my non-traditional law school path with ASU Law professors and administration, the answer to my many questions was never ‘no’ – it was: ‘If you’re willing to put in the effort, we can find a way to make that work,’” Hawthorne said.

“I learned a lot – both in terms of academic topics and life wisdom – from too many amazing professors to name them all, but two of my most impactful professors and mentors were Dean (Diana) Bowman and Professor (Art) Hinshaw,” added Hawthorne, crediting Hinshaw for convincing her to go to law school in the first place.

Hawthorne served as a U.S. Department of State Title VIII fellow studying the Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian language and culture. Having completed the fellowship, she has turned her attention to preparing for the bar exam and starting her legal career. 

Julie Tenney

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Shereen Ahmed brightens ASU Gammage stage as Eliza in 'My Fair Lady'

Production runs Dec. 7–12

November 29, 2021

With only a week remaining until this golden-age musical is performed on the ASU Gammage stage, lead actress Shereen Ahmed shares her experiences and road to stardom as Eliza Doolittle in the national touring production of “My Fair Lady.”

Made famous by Hollywood legends Julie Andrews and Audrey Hepburn, “My Fair Lady” takes place in 1910s England and follows the journey of Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who transforms into a member of high London society. Shereen Ahmed as Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady,” which runs at ASU Gammage from Dec. 7–12. Download Full Image

“Every day I find more and more ways that I relate to Eliza. I think first and foremost her ambition and her drive is something that I relate to,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed’s journey to the stage is not like most. The actress graduated from Towson University in Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in sociology and anthropology with a concentration in criminal justice. On a whim, without an agent or any credit to her name, Ahmed went to an open call for the musical.

“There's a scene where Eliza walks into Higgins’ study — this is a place she's not normally invited into — and that very much was the space that I walked into. I was not expecting anything to come from the audition, and then I booked it,” Ahmed said. “I felt like that person that had something to prove because I didn't have anything backing me.”

So, with the same fearlessness and determination as her character, Ahmed was casted as Eliza Doolittle. And as an Egyptian American, Ahmed became the first woman of color to play Eliza in Broadway and West End of London history.

“I didn't know that I was going to be the first woman of color in a major American production to play Eliza,” Ahmed said. “As an Arab woman growing up post-9/11, I was told to hide my identity for so long, and so when I was forced to step into the spotlight in that way, it was asking a lot of me.”

But Ahmed soon realized that this experience wasn’t about her, but about opening the doors for more women of color to be represented in classic American musicals.

“'My Fair Lady' has been a part of American musical theater history for so long and for so many years, and you don't really see people of color in those kinds of shows. Finally being able to actually represent the audiences who are coming to see us is a gift,” Ahmed said.

And as the world of theater reopens for the first time since the start of the pandemic, Ahmed feels nothing but excitement.

“It feels so special,” Ahmed said. “We've been touring for about two months now, but for some people we are their first show since March of 2020 — that’s a really special moment to share with them. The reactions we get are so much deeper than we've ever experienced before.”

Ahmed can’t wait to share the story of Eliza Doolittle with audiences at ASU Gammage, and there are many moments in the show she’s eager for people to see.

“I think the last scene in show, which I'm not going to spoil, is definitely going to lead us into this new era of what golden-age musical theater is and what it's trying to say,” said Ahmed.

“My Fair Lady” will be at ASU Gammage from Dec. 7–12. For tickets and more information, visit

Marketing Assistant, ASU Gammage