Students Doug Keillor and Natassia Rozario Receive Fulbright Grants

The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually, 1,600 of these grants awarded to U.S. students and 4,000 to foreign students. This year, American University Washington College of Law students Doug Keillor and Natassia Rozario were chosen to participate in the prestigious Fulbright Student Program.

Doug Keillor

Doug Keillor came to American University Washington College of Law looking to become immersed in International Human Rights.

Since beginning law school, Keillor has worked with the Human Rights Brief, International Law Journal, International Human Rights Clinic, and participated in the UN CAT Project.

Keillor says one of his most valuable experiences occurred in the summer of his 1L year when he earned the opportunity to extern with Save the Children in Bolivia. He worked for nine weeks alongside an alumnus at the organization to research the juvenile justice system.

“My externship experience in Bolivia was basically the genesis for my Fulbright project,” said Keillor. “I came back to WCL wanting to do something more with that experience. So, I began seeking out opportunities to do juvenile justice work within the international human rights context.”

Keillor was encouraged by members of the faculty to apply for a Fulbright.

As a Fulbright scholar, Keillor will live in Mexico City from September to June, and will immerse himself in the Mexican juvenile justice system. Through his project, The Scope and Causes of Excessive Juvenile Pretrial Detention, Keillor hopes to uncover how long periods of pretrial detention affect juveniles in the justice system. He will work side-by-side with partner organizations, the Open Society and Reintegra, a Mexican NGO working on juvenile justice reform.

“Some organizations have started to do more work looking at pretrial detention as a human rights abuse,” Keillor said. “If adults are in pretrial for a long time there is a greater chance of torture. Nobody has really looked at how this is affecting juveniles in the justice system. “

“For my project, I’ve taken the foundational work that has been done with adult pretrial detention, and focused on juveniles. Pretrial detention is harder on juveniles, and it’s also a lot more difficult to uncover what is happening with them. There are smaller numbers of juveniles in the justice system, and they’re often divided between an adult and a juvenile system.”

During his time in Mexico, Keillor will conduct interviews and research with judges, attorneys, and prison officials, and will canvass nearly 100 juveniles in detention in the state of Morelos.

He hopes to set the stage to build research-based reforms in both Mexico and in other countries.

“I would like to see this project act as a basis for advocacy in reforms of the juvenile justice system—specifically for Reintegra and the Open Society,” Keillor said. “My hope is for this project to become a template for how to uncover the abuses in the juvenile justice system in other countries, specifically in Latin America. I’m really interested in taking this model and this experience, and going to other countries in Latin America to garner more attention for juvenile justice abuses."

Natassia Rozario

Personal events in Natassia Rozario’s life sparked her interest in health and human rights.

When Rozario compared the level of care she received as a patient in the U.S. health care system to that received by family members in India and around the world, she began to question the inequities within the international system.

As an undergraduate and graduate student, Rozario examined social justice and ethical issues of health policy, as well as the international aspects of health and human rights issues. As a law student, she feels she has become fluent in the international and domestic legal tools necessary to advocate for the right to health. She served as editor of the Health Law and Policy Brief, and recently authored a white paper on tobacco and co-authored a white paper on access to medicines for the inaugural conference on "Global Health, Gender, and Human Rights" held at the law school in conjunction with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

“Last summer I had the opportunity to work in India with Anand Grover, special rapporteur on the right to health,” added Rozario. “While there, I took a trip to Ahmedabad. I had worked there as a Clinton Service Fellow with a grassroots organization, Saath, to lobby the local government to build a primary health center for a slum community. The trip back reminded me of the importance of working at the grassroots level.”

Rozario decided to apply to the Fulbright program and was selected as a scholar.

“I’m thankful for the direction and support I received from the directors of the UNROW clinic and professors like Lindsay Wiley and Lia Epperson at WCL,” said Rozario. “My experiences in clinic and conversations with members of the faculty truly helped frame my project.”

For her Fulbright project, Rozario will study impact litigation in India in the context of right to health. She will specifically look at how grassroots movements can be used to strengthen public interest litigation in India to advance the right to health.

For nine months beginning in September, Rozario will live in Dehli, India, and will work closely with Jindal Global Law School, and with The Lawyers Collective, an organization in India which promotes human rights, especially issues relating to women's rights.

Through focus groups and interviews, Rozario will talk with lawyers, grassroots activists, plaintiffs, and health experts to get an idea of whether grassroots initiatives draw attention to health rights violations, increase access to the courts, help frame legal arguments, and strengthen enforcement of decisions.

“This project is not just an academic exercise,” Rozario said. “I hope that I am able not only to publish some academic articles, but also to develop a manual from this research so that my work becomes a resource for others.”