Three years ago, I was a law scholar far away. Not in California, Florida – or even the far-off island of Hawaii. I was a law scholar far from the United States, in my home country of Iran, within the Middle-East.

After years of consideration, however, my dream of studying in New York City eventually pushed me to abandon all the comforts of home to get where I am today: International Law.

The journey of my new home

The travel ban was the first pressure I had faced before entering the United States. The executive order made the administrative process longer than I was expecting. In fact, issuing a United States student visa took more than two and a half months. As a result, I missed the acceptance date into the Fordham Law LLM program.

Fortunately, St. John’s School of Law was my second choice for pursuing my degree. The program offered a variety of benefits that persuaded me to focus on a LLM in Transnational Legal Practice.

Upon arrival, I immediately noticed the welcoming atmosphere and peaceful neighborhoods within Queens. Perhaps it was the blue sky or the tropical, humid climate of summertime that made the campus of St. John’s feel like my second home; my second home to think, study, sleep, eat and run daily.

To make it better, I resided with an Asian family, who offered me tons of hospitality. It was my (other) first adventure throughout my student life in the United States – living with a family in which we had no common words to communicate.

In August, I enjoyed fall nights doing yoga with my newly-made global buddies from other continents. But, all the pleasures of those days at St. John’s didn’t last too long, as I finally was able to head to Fordham University School of Law to continue my LLM. This time, it was in International Law and Justice. Fordham was not only a different school but also a different environment. The school was in the core of Manhattan, a city with a diverse culture. So, my journal as an international student continued.

New York is the city for anyone who seeks to change their prewritten destiny, like me. I am someone who was born during the battles for oil – someone who, if he chose to stand “inside” the conflict zone, could not walk towards any of his dreams, like I am doing today.


Working with the United Nations during the travel ban

In 2017, however, a travel ban went into effect for six countries – including Iran, my home country. During that time, the ban prevented many Iranian NGOs from sending their delegates to the United States. Because of this, I was approached by the United Nations to work as a representative – one of my lifetime desires. The United Nations recognized that I was an Iranian law scholar living in New York and brought me on board.

I began my assignments by auditing hundreds of sessions throughout the previous year. It opened my eyes to how the world functions not only through a legal lens, but also how the political umbrella of economically powerful nations operate. Chatting with tens of international officials helped me understand how vulnerable the rule of law in international organizations could be.

This experience was beyond my wildest dreams. Where else could I gain this amount of professional legal experience? Where else could I be part of these significant international law events – and tell my story to so many smiling facing? New York: the city that opens its arms to everyone.

New York is the city for anyone who seeks to change their prewritten destiny, like me. I am someone who was born during the battles for oil – someone who, if he chose to stand “inside” the conflict zone, could not walk towards any of his dreams, like I am doing today.

But, finally, I am here.

My religious journey that began from an Islamic law school in Iran to a Catholic one, St. John’s and Fordham Jesuit community, now continues at my latest school: Cardozo Law at Yeshiva University. To me, it’s the law school with generous deans and a variety of scholarships. Cardozo has been an excellent path towards reaching the summits of my legal profession through its endless opportunities, such as events to help me fine-tune my speaking skills in front of well-known professors. Cardozo Law has helped me along the path of a J.S.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science) by facilitating all my requirements, by answering all my concerns and by spreading all the positive energies.

Now it’s my turn to mimic the helpful atmosphere I experienced in the three-mentioned schools. I do this now by learning as much as I can, giving lectures in all the opportunities and contributing papers and articles about the achievements of an international student – trying to change his future. But who knows? Perhaps I can find a way to promote the vital connection between law and policy in international relations along the way.


Seyed Mohsen Rowhani has a continuous master’s degree in Islamic Studies and Private Law from Imam Sadiq University. He started his education at St. John’s Law School with an LLM in Transnational Legal Practice. And, he graduated from Fordham Law School with an LLM in International Law. Currently, he is a J.S.D. candidate in International Trade Law at Cardozo Law School. He also serves in the Economic and Social Council of United Nations as an N.G.O. representative with a special consultant status.