Dedicated to international conflict mediation
A young person intent on becoming an attorney specializing in international law and conflict resolution might want to follow Courtney Dickson’s plan. The first step involves becoming outstanding right away. For Courtney, this began with Girl Scouts in first grade, continuing on to win the Girl Scout Bronze Award, and then the Silver Award and volunteering “tirelessly,” as her scout leader explained, for groups like the Jefferson Community Service Organization. She then organized not one but four events in a senior care home, providing entertainment and activities that were different from their standard fare yet appropriate for the needs of seniors at the facility, one of which simply involved their enjoyment of attention from young people. Courtney planned for hours, created a budget, solicited donations to defray costs, recruited a dozen volunteers, trained them, scheduled them, assembled and prepared supplies and decorations, promoted the events, and ran them. In 2013, she joined an elite group of young women to win the Girl Scout Gold Award (equivalent to the Eagle Scout level in Boy Scouts).
A second part of the plan might be to gain international experience by becoming an ambassador while still in high school. Known for her service projects and as a member of her school’s Spanish Club, Courtney was chosen for an international student exchange experience as part of Pleasanton-Tulancingo Sister City Association. She hosted an exchange student in her home and then lived with a host family in Mexico, enjoying the exchange so much, she returned to Tulancingo a year later for a visit.
Homing in on essential skills needed by lawyers, Courtney tried out for and won a spot on her high school team, “We the People: The Citizens and The Consitution,” to debate Constitutional issues. She and her team won the regional and state competitions and in the spring of 2013 placed second at the national level. By this time, she had already been selected for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Justice Academy, a paid internship with the DA’s office that resulted in a summer job in the Livermore City Attorney’s office.
Awarded for outstanding service, a young ambassador, and a skilled debater with legal experience, Courtney was ready for pre-law. She chose San Diego State University, focusing on political science and the ISCOR program based on international security and conflict resolution. She joined the ISCOR Student Society and became a member of Model United Nations. She impressed one of her professors with her team skills in a project to cut three percent from the SDSU budget. Courtney soon worked as a teaching assistant for an upper division ISCOR class on contemporary and global systems.
After making the Dean’s List for three semesters, she also became a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Golden Key International Honor Society. She was named the Executive Vice-President of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and held the title of Administrative Officer at Scholars without Borders Honor Society.
Courtney had a sense early on that the world could run more smoothly and that she wanted to be a part of the process, but that commitment deepened one day when she was in high school. Her family was very close to another family in her neighborhood, and the son was like a brother to Courtney. Sadly, he was killed in the line of duty in Iraq, and his loss was deeply felt in the whole community. Courtney sees foreign conflict mediation as a way to keep such tragedies from continuing and aims to do her part.
The HSI experience furthered her plans to develop a broader and more personal knowledge of international affairs, and through it, she and her fellow participants, Yah Parwon, Aisha Parveen, and Dana Tumbaga co-founded PowerWeavers, a non-governmental non-profit organization currently based in Liberia. PowerWeavers envisions a world where young women have the tools to be independent and feel empowered through informational resources, such as courses in leadership, sexual health, and other life skills, along with economic opportunities. Their initial thrust will supply training and materials for projects like traditional soap-making, thereby strengthening their ability to make informed and independent decisions about their lives. Courtney was named Chief Media Officer of PowerWeavers and looks forward to helping expand this organization to become an international force for female empowerment, gender equality, and women’s rights for girls and young mothers all over the world.