26-year-old Syrian-American Suzan Boulad is no armchair activist. In March 2013, she spent time living in a village near Idlib, Syria, experiencing life during wartime with frightening, daily bombardments by President Assad’s forces. “The bombs sounded like they [were] literally about to fall on top of us,” Ms. Boulad recalls.
During that time, she befriended an organization called The Free Lawyers of Aleppo whose mandate is to create a new, principled legal system after the deadly war. After volunteering with the organization, Ms. Boulad knew that she found her calling. “I saw the most value in [law] as a tool. It felt like if there is no rule of law, then you can’t advocate for women’s rights, you can’t advocate for minority rights,” she says. “They convinced me that that was the foundation of a stable and solid country going forward, and that’s what I wanted to work on.”
Ms. Boulad is now in her third year studying law at the University of Minnesota, and has continued her activism, organizing rallies in the Twin Cities calling for Syrian refugee support.