Originally published in UToday on May 6, 2015
Law grad leaves impressive record of academic, extracurricular excellence
Daphne Rodzinyak's education included journal editing and student advocacy
By Roy Clancy
Ask graduating student Daphne Rodzinyak what makes her proudest about her time at law school and she pauses for a moment before replying: “I’d say just finishing the three years and not burning out, to be honest.”
A quick glance at Rodzinyak’s accomplishments since coming to the University of Calgary in 2012 makes that comment easier to understand.
During third year alone, in addition to serving as president of the Society of Law Students, she was co-editor-in-chief of the Alberta Law Review and interned for WestlawNext Canada.
The 24-year-old, who plans to focus on environmental and energy law, spent last summer working for the Alberta Utilities Commission. The summer before that, looking for experience abroad, she held two part-time jobs she created herself through networking — at a law firm in Dresden, Germany and as a legal intern for the UNESCO Research Chair at the law faculty of the Technische Universität Dresden.
Along the way, she co-founded the International Energy University Project and served as co-chair of the Environmental Law Society.
Juggling significant extracurricular and academic demands a challenge
“It’s definitely a challenge to co-ordinate extracurricular demands with academics but it is rewarding and exciting, so I make it work,” Rodzinyak says. “I learned how to deal with different personalities and it strengthened leadership skills in that sense.”
That’s a quality to which Dean of Law Ian Holloway is quick to attest.
“I’ve been a dean for a long time, and in my experience, what separates the truly great students from the others is the extent to which they lead by example,” he says.
“Daphne was a perfect illustration of this. She was a powerful advocate for the students and she didn’t hesitate to let me know when her views were different from mine.”
Rodzinyak says one of the highlights of law school was the Kawaskimhon Moot held at the University of New Brunswick in March. The moot, or negotiation, involved 15 Canadian law schools “using traditional aboriginal talking circles to contest the legal position of aboriginal clients with the objective of obtaining consensus,” says moot coach David Laidlaw, Research Fellow at the Canadian Institute of Resources Law.
The moot involved months of research, preparation and presentations, followed by a “grueling weekend” of talking circles and negotiations at which Laidlaw says Rodzinyak proved especially perceptive and persuasive.
“I expect great things from her,” he says, a sentiment echoed by Dean Ian Holloway.
Quiet leader; ideal lawyer
“Daphne is a quiet leader,” Holloway says. “She’s tough and resilient and she sees the big picture. All these characteristics make her an ideal law student — and will make her an ideal lawyer, no matter what her ultimate career choices.”
Rodzinyak will graduate May 7, but won’t attend the convocation ceremony, opting for a vacation in Europe before she begins articling with Calgary law firm Lawson Lundell LLP, where she hopes to specialize in regulatory law. “I’m really interested in energy security and how to ensure there is enough energy to support our modern society,” she says. “In the legal world, that translates into regulatory law.”
She’s also looking forward to having more time to play the cello, a passion since the age of seven that included a stint with the University of Calgary Orchestra.
Looking back at “a great three years,” Rodzinyak describes it as a “rewarding experience” where the “small classes at the law faculty allow you to get to know everyone really well. The collegial spirit among students and faculty provides a support system built-in with your education,” she says.
“The friends I’ve made over the last three years have been very worthwhile.”