ASU Law international grad strives to grow as a human rights advocate


Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.

After undergoing a five-year legal education in Albania, Albi Cela was still eager to learn more and continue to better himself as a person and as a future lawyer and human rights advocate.

“That is why I decided to apply for the ASU International Rule of Law and Security program,” said Cela, a fall 2020 Master of Laws (LLM) candidate at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. He was introduced to the IRLS program, developed in cooperation with the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Washington, D.C., in 2018 during a visit to ASU’s location there.

“I immediately fell in love with the program and what it offered,” Cela said. “I went back to Albania, I started the application, I got accepted and here I am today almost graduating after an amazing one-year experience. Of course, all this was made possible by the IRLS Jones Day Foundation Fellowship, which funded my studies. I will always be grateful for that.”

Question: Why did you choose this program and ASU Law?

Answer: Many ask me this and the answer is always the same: The IRLS program and ASU complete me and what I want to achieve in life — to be a better person, who fights for what is right in a decent and professional manner.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: The courses and the professors were amazing. It would be difficult to differentiate them from one another. But I must say that classes with Ambassador Clint Williamson were a unique experience. The most important lesson I got out of the experience he shared with us is: “Always do what is right.” And to those who will be here in D.C. for the spring 2021 semester, I really recommend you take his class, and above all enjoy your time while here. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My favorite spot on campus is the studying area. I spent a lot of time there studying and thinking what I wanted to do once graduated. I really want to help my country, Albania, become a better place. For now, I believe I can help more if I stay here in the U.S. and get ready to go back and make a real change.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise?

A: I always strived to be fair and just in every situation. I believe that is that reason I decided to study law and be part of the IRLS program. This program taught me how important rule of law, good governance and human rights are for the democratization of fragile countries. My country, Albania, is one, and I want to use the IRLS experience to help make a change there, from wherever I am.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I will never forget a line I read from "Just Mercy," a book written Bryan Stevenson, founder of Equal Justice Initiative: “The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice." That is what I would try to tackle — providing justice for those who have been denied.

media contact
media contact: 
Julie Tenney
julie.tenney@asu.edu