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

  • 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.”
  • I love that I feel at home on campus. The faculty, administration, staff, and students create an inviting, peaceful environment. Everyone is dedicated to your success. I also get to see rainbows on a weekly basis, don’t need to wear a coat and boots durin”
  • What surprised you most about UH Law? How hard one has to work. You can't roll out of bed and get a B here.”
  • Keep the balance and communication open with your loved ones. You'll hear this 1000 times but it really is important.”
  • I was under the impression that law school was a ruthless numbers game, but I've seen for myself that even lawyers 40+ years out from Richardson will stop each other on the streets in downtown to reminisce about their time in school.”
  • I chose UH because they offer a specialization in Criminal law. The other reason is the fact that I wanted to live in Hawai'i.”
  • I think I would like to end up in the court room as a litigator. But who knows, I learn something new every day. There's no telling what will spark my interest next.”
  • I was working at the Al Lawati law firm which provides legal service to Oman Oil in Oman. I had previously practiced law in Iran since 2001.”
  • Before I started Law School I taught high school English at my alma mater for a few years. After teaching, I worked with the local organization that managed AmeriCorps programs in American Sāmoa.”
  • American Inns of Court provides law students an opportunity to participate in interactive instruction with local judges and lawyers.”