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Kurdistan scholar to receive advanced degree from College of Law

May 02, 2012

After Bedar Fars Aziz graduated first in his law class at Salahaddin University in Hewler, the capital of the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, his government offered to pay for him to obtain an advanced law degree at any university in the world. In exchange, Aziz someday would come home to work as a law professor.

Armed with a scholarship from the Kurdistan Regional Government, Aziz chose the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) program. Knowing almost no English, Aziz and his wife moved to Arizona six months before his courses began to immerse themselves in the new language.

Aziz said he chose the customized LL.M. program at ASU because it gave him the opportunity to concentrate his studies in subjects that interested him. He focused on government and administration law in the hope of being able to make a difference when he returns to Kurdistan.

“If my government was free from corruption and more transparent, it would change everything,” Aziz said. “It is our right to become a free and independent country, and I want to help do that.”

The 23-year-old Aziz will receive his LL.M. during the College of Law’s convocation, beginning at 1:30 p.m., May 3, in Gammage Auditorium, on ASU’s Tempe campus.

Professors in Kurdistan teach strictly by the book, Aziz said, and don’t focus on more recent developments in the law. He hopes to incorporate some of what he has learned from his College of Law professors into his own teaching style.

“I want my students to know how the law is right now, not just how it used to be,” Aziz said. “This will help them to make bigger changes.”

After graduation, Aziz will return to Kurdistan for the summer. He will then spend the next year with his wife, who graduated second in her class at Salahaddin University and is also sponsored by the Kurdistan government, while she pursues her LL.M. at Penn State. The couple plans to return to Kurdistan for good after she graduates, and they will both work as law professors at Salahaddin University.

“This is the first time that I don’t want to graduate,” Aziz said. “I want to have more of these classes, more of this education. I want more.”

Written by Meghan McCarthy