CNN Heroes Award Recipient Selected from Fordham Law Student NominationsDecember 20, 2007
Fordham Law students Laura Garr and Kush Shukla successfully nominated human rights lawyer Pablo Fajardo for a CNN Heroes Award in the "Fighting for Justice" category. Fajardo was presented the award at a televised ceremony on December 6th.
As fellows with Fordham Law's Leitner Center for International Law and Justice's summer internship program, the two students worked with Fajardo, lead attorney in an ongoing environmental lawsuit in Ecuador.
The students only recently found out they had both nominated Fajardo for the same award.
"I nominated Pablo Fajardo to gain international support for his cause in Ecuador and to encourage others to take on similar issues," Shukla said.
Fajardo was a manual laborer with the Texaco oil fields. After witnessing the environmental and health damages associated with oil contamination, he founded a human rights organization. While working his way through law school, Fajardo has continued to fight for a cleaner environment. He now defends the rights of more than thirty thousand individuals affected by the contamination of their ancestral lands in the once pristine Ecuadorian rainforest.
"Pablo's story truly is the epitome of how dedication and a huge heart can make such a large difference in the lives of so many without a voice," said Garr. "He has been successful in vigorously and effectively representing his plaintiffs because he has lived most of his life in the affected region and knows firsthand the problems of those he is representing."
CNN launched the Heroes Award series in May of 2007 to recognize individuals who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to serving others. Eighteen finalists were selected from more than 7,000 viewer nominations and were then reviewed by a panel of celebrities, humanitarians, and world leaders, who selected one award recipient for each of six categories.
For more information, visit: <a href="http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2007/cnn.heroes/>
The students worked with Fajardo through grants provided by the Leitner Center Internship Fund, a program that aims to prepare future lawyers to address human rights abuses over the course of their careers. With the generous donations of James '82 and Sandra Leitner, students are funded to participate in international human rights-related summer internships. For more information on the Leitner Center, visit <a href="http://leitnercenter.org>.