Moot Court Performs Well at National Championship

Members of Holy Cross Moot Court team
From L to R: Renu Mukherjee ’19, assistant coach Neil Petersen ’04, Ryan Parslow ’19, coach John O’Donnell ’04

The Holy Cross Moot Court team performed well on the national stage earlier this year, earning several honors while competing in the American Moot Court National Championship Team in January at the Florida A&M University College of Law.

Moot court competitions feature students arguing for and against positions on certain legal issues. This year’s national tournament included cases on affirmative action, freedom of speech, and academic freedom.  Teams, composed of two students each, will then argue for each side in different rounds. They also field questions from judges which can expose weaknesses in or limits to their arguments.

The Holy Cross senior team of Ryan Parslow and Renu Mukherjee finished fifth at the competition, placing them in the top one-percent of teams in the nation. Sophomores Willem McGee and Natalie DeCoste also performed well, finishing seventeenth and earning a spot among the top five-percent of national teams. In addition, the other Holy Cross teams boosted the College’s collective rank with strong performances.

“Having top ranks in moot court is satisfying because our students deserve to be recognized for their skill, effort, and dedication,” said coach John O’Donnell ’04. “Watching these students engage with a problem, struggle with it, and agonize with it instills an unspeakable sense of pride.”

Mukherjee ’19, has been a member of moot court since her freshmen year, and it has led her to discover interests in constitutional law and political philosophy. Mukherjee, a Political Science major, is now looking to earn a master’s degree in Political Philosophy, as well as attend law school.

“Competing in the tournament felt surreal, as it does every time I get up to argue for Moot,” said Mukherjee. “Ryan and I put in a lot of hours of work this year, and while we felt prepared, we never expected to make it as far as we did.”

Parslow ’19 discussed how Moot Court has helped him develop critical skills to a future career in law such as critically analyzing information, writing clearly, and feeling more comfortable with oral presentations.

“Moot Court has impacted my academic experience and professional goals tremendously,” said Parslow. “I wanted to be a lawyer before entering Holy Cross, and Moot Court affirmed my desire to do so because of the ability to represent a client and formulate an argument on their behalf.

McGee ’21 and DeCoste ’21, both Political Science majors, each described how much Moot Court has played a role in their Holy Cross experiences. They are considering applying to law school after graduation.

“Joining Moot has defined so much of my experience here on the Hill, even in just my first two years,” said McGee. “Moot has exposed me to a group of passionate and talented individuals who have become some of my closest friends and mentors. Moot has bolstered my personal, academic, and professional development by immersing me in this challenging environment and constantly pushing me to grow.”

“Being surrounded by some of the brightest minds Holy Cross has to offer has pushed me to work harder and excel both in Moot and in my other classes,” said Decoste. “Being able to benefit from experiential learning has reaffirmed my desire to practice law, if not made that desire stronger.”

Corey ’18 Reflects on Impact of Ignite Fund Experience

Student stands in middle of busy European market

This reflection piece was written by Patricia Corey ’18, currently a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Latvia. She received an Ignite Fund grant in 2018 to travel to Russia as part of a research project titled, “The Moscow Metro System and its Hidden Figures.” Learn more about the Ignite Fund and apply before the April 12 deadline! Read more about Patty’s experience in the Fulbright program in this recent blog post at ProFellow!

In the summer of 2018, I received an international travel grant through the Ignite Fund to pursue my research project entitled, “The Moscow Metro System and its Hidden Figures” by flying to Moscow, Russia for two weeks. It was essential to go to Moscow to analyze and photograph twenty-five metro stations that have been created recently under the Putin administration. Since the Ignite Fund funded all of my travel expenses, I not only was able to photograph these beautifully artistic and unique stations, I also had the opportunity to stay with a Russian host mother yet again, mirroring my semester and Maymester abroad. Now that I am six months into my Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant in Liepāja, Latvia, my short time abroad this past summer with the help of the Ignite Fund proves helpful to both my Russian and Latvian language development and communication skills with various people.

Since I stayed with a Russian host mother in June, I was able to brush up my Russian skills before moving to Latvia. Even though it is not essential to know Russian in Latvia to communicate, I felt that the fact that I know Russian well gives me an advantage. Firstly, I am able to learn Latvian easier since Russian and Latvian grammar systems are similar. Secondly, I am able to communicate with Russian-speaking wait staff or colleagues without a translator. For example, just the other week I used my Russian exclusively at Grobiņa High School (11 km outside Liepāja) to communicate with the lead principal of the school. Without my developed Russian language skills, we would have needed a translator, most likely a student, to assist us. To me, speaking Russian in Liepāja seems like a survival language that I only use when either Latvian or English will not suffice. However, in these moments of communicating in sometimes stressful and professional situations, I am thankful for the opportunity to have been able to continue my Russian language skills even after graduation with the help of the Ignite Fund.

Additionally, since my research project combined political, historical, and artistic elements, I have been able to use my metro photographs as inspiration for lesson plans to help me teach English in an interesting, adventurous, and creative way. My project inspired me to always use art as a medium to spark new ideas and imagination, which has led me to also use Latvian, Russian, and French art depicting landscape scenes to help students create their own stories in English. In conclusion, the Ignite Fund’s generosity has helped me complete my research, further my Russian language and Latvian skills, and as given me creative ideas for lessons as a teacher in the U.S. Fulbright Program. This experience has prepared me, in part to communicate and teach well here in Liepāja, Latvia.