Aya DeLeon

Hometown: Las Piñas, Philippines

Degree(s): I earned my BA in Comparative Literature (concentrating on Asian/Third World Literature) in 2003 and Bachelor of Laws in 2007, both from the University of the Philippines.

Why did you choose UH Law? I chose UH Law because I wanted to experience studying in Hawaiʻi, and I learned that the School has an excellent Environmental Law program. My graduate degree fellowship with the East-West Center is also tied with enrollment at UH.

What were you doing before you started Law School? I was a lawyer with Saligan,a legal resource non-government organization doing development work with women, farmers, fisherfolk, workers, urban poor, and local communities.

Where are you headed after you graduate? I intend to work on environmental issues inrural and indigenous peoples' communities in the Philippines, by strategically strengthening local governance in those areas.

Describe UH Law in three words. Bustling, Involved, Laid-Back

How would you describe your classmates? My classmates are diligent, intelligent, and actively contribute to critical discussions in class. All of them have been very accommodating to me, as an international student getting used to life in Hawaiʻi and at the Law School. My LLM classmates, in particular, are family to me.

What advice would you give to an entering law student? Say yes to as many things as you can, as often as possible.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started? Get a bus pass even if you live on campus, because by the middle of the semester it will be well worth it. Extra-curricular activities are kind of inevitable in a place like Hawaiʻi.

What Law School organizations/activities are you involved in? I am involved with the Environmental Law Society and the Filipino Law Students Association.

Where is your favorite place to study? I study in my room at the dorm, by the vending machines at the 2nd floor of the Law School, and most recently, the Sinclair Library. All of these are warm and cozy spots.

What surprised you most about UH Law? I was most surprised about how small and intimate the School is.

What do you like most about UH Law? I like that, just as I hoped, my experience at UH Law has not be restricted to books and the classroom, but has incorporated being exposed to different sites around this beautiful island and interacting with local communities. I also appreciate how many and varied the activities going on at the School are at any given time.

Students Speak

  • What I like most about UH Law is the open access to our Deans and Professors, the variety of programs and events available to us, and the ability to shape the future of not just our careers, but also our law school.”
  • I chose UH Law because Hawai'i is my home and I plan on staying here to practice. Also, as a Hawaiian, I am interested in Native Hawaiian Rights under the law, thus, the program here allows me to explore this interest in great depth.”
  • What I was most surprised about was the diversity of my 1L class. It’s amazing how many different backgrounds, interests and personalities are represented. ”
  • The UH Law community exemplifies the Hawaiian word “ohana.” Students, faculty, and other staff are very friendly and welcoming. There is no aggressive competition between the students, and the professors are welcoming and accessible.”
  • There is a feeling of being one family. Everyone is working to help us to succeed.”
  • A highlight for me was volunteering to be a bailiff at the Susan B. McKay competition. I saw upperclassman compete orally in front of real lawyers and judges from our community. I was amazed at the professionalism and skill that the competitors showed.”
  • Keep the balance and communication open with your loved ones. You'll hear this 1000 times but it really is important.”
  • Law school teaches me valuable skills while constantly presenting challenges which test and try my abilities.”
  • As a practicing attorney in Environmental Law in Japan, I was drawn to the strength of the Environmental Law Program at UH. I am striving to earn a specialization in Environmental Law.”
  • When I'm not in class, I can most likely be found in the library, it's the best place to study that I know. However if I'm not on campus, I'm usually spending time with friends or family around town, especially trying out the latest restaurants!”