Class of 2018
LLM in U.S. Law & Policy student
Hometown: Bamako, Mali
Major: Business Law
Abigail Fofana is an asylee from Mali where she worked for the U.S. Embassy. She moved to New Jersey in 2012 after 35 unidentified men stoned her while she was driving in a US Embassy vehicle in Mali. The act was a consequence of unclarified reasons. "By the grace of God, I came through it uninjured and I am so grateful. Little did I know, this was the beginning of an incredible journey."
At first, Fofana's journey stateside was just a visit and part of a four-month hiatus that the embassy granted her because of the attack. But, during her visit, she couldn't sleep - kept awake at night with the nightmare of her trauma.
While stateside, she watched the human rights crisis in Mali escalate and knew that she become endangered if she returned to her home because of her Christian faith and career. Fortuitously, she met a lawyer who donated her services pro bono to fight for Fofana's right to asylum in the United States.
The generosity of her lawyer restored Fofana's faith in humanity. "I think emotionally I just needed to believe that humanity still exists after being attacked by my own country. When you are rejected from your own country, there is a point where you don't even know who you are."
Her lawyer's act of generosity inspired Fofana to start her own nonprofit, Servant Ministries. "I want to be that person to give hope, love and unconditional relief. I don't care what your color is, where you are from or what your beliefs are. I just want to be there for you because you are part of humankind."
Servant Ministries clothes and feeds people experiencing homelessness and performs rescue missions for victims of human trafficking.
"Every Sunday we feed hundreds of people who are in need here." After opening Servant Ministries, Fofana realized that becoming an accredited lawyer would enable her to be more of service o her community.
Already armed with a law degree in Mali, Abigail needed 24 credit hours at an accredited law school and to pass the California bar to practice law for Servants Ministries. Abigail said that McGeorge's LLM Program in U.S. Law seemed like a surefire way for her to ground herself in the intricacies of U.S. law and prepare for the bar.
She is appreciative of the support and the education that she's received at McGeorge. "I love how available and supportive the professors are. One of the things that I like about the program is that it is preparing you to live as a lawyer and to engage with the world by developing an analytical and a critical mind. The work is challenging, but it is good. I love it."
As she reflects on her past, present, and future, Abigail is not complacent. "When you face so many challenges you have two choices - one is to settle and to be miserable and the other is to fight."