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Peterson St. Philippe: 1L at Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport, FL [By Rebecca Unzicker] As a young boy growing up in Haiti, Peterson St. Philippe wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and in his country. Already a young witness to two coups d’état by the age of 12, St. Philippe yearned for stability for his country. Having been left in Haiti at age one-and-a-half when his mother left to pursue a better future, St. Philippe did not speak English when his mother returned for him and his older sister in 1996, 11 years later.

“It was a total culture shock for me at first,

St. Philippe was the first in his family to

“Before I do anything now, I always think

but I quickly learned the American culture and

complete high school, and he graduated with

about what the consequences might be

grew to like it,” St. Philippe said. “I thought it

honors, going on to earn a Bachelor of Science

later,” he said. “The study of law made me

was amazing that every person in this country

in sports management with honors from

into a more aware person and is equipping

could go to school and learn a trade without

Florida State University. Now a contributing

me with the tools necessary to be a better

paying a dime. I wanted to learn the ins and

writer to the student newspaper, The Brief,

citizen. I think that alone is worth the price of

outs of what makes this country run so much

St. Philippe says studying law has shaped his

admission.”

better than others, and the best way I could

view of the world.

think to do that was to go to law school.” Now a first-year student at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida, St. Philippe, 23, enrolled in law school with the dream of learning the laws of the United States and transplanting them to Haiti. Wanting the family he left behind in Haiti to experience the good life in this country, he wanted to take the best of this country to Haiti. “One of the ways that I knew how to do that was to learn the laws and understand how and why they work,” St. Philippe said. “I am here because that underlying interest still rests deep inside, and maybe one day I’ll get a chance to accomplish some of it, if not all.” Wanting to transplant the laws of the United States to Haiti seems ambitious for a 12-yearold boy, but St. Philippe believed he could cure the lawlessness in his home country. Stating that there is no stability or security in Haiti, St. Philippe said he wants every young person in that country to have a free education. “I would love to see the day when every house has running water,” he added. “I don’t think those things are too much to ask for, and I believe the answers to these problems are found starting at the top, the government.”

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Q. Who is your role model? A. My mother, hands down. She works hard and does a great job providing for our family. As a single mother, she has earned my respect, and everyday I strive to work as hard as she does. Q. What do you do for fun? A. I really enjoy playing sports. Soccer would have to be my favorite. I don’t get to do a lot of that while at Stetson because not too many people play. I also enjoy basketball, which is what I play the most while at Stetson. It’s a great way to relieve some of the stress associated with law school. Q. What CD is in your CD player right now? A. I listen to a lot of Haitian music, so my favorite Haitian band Nu-Look is in my CD player. Q. What is the last magazine you read? A. If it’s considered a magazine, The Sports Business Journal. I got hooked on it during undergrad. Q. What is your favorite TV show? A. I am practically glued to the TV every Monday and Wednesday when 24 and Lost come on. Q. What is something most people don’t know about you? A. I am a big Mozart fan. He makes me want to learn how to play the piano. I haven’t gotten around to it, but I plan on it soon after law school.

St. Philippe often returns to Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, FL, to speak to Haitian immigrants and tell his story. He hopes to serve as an example of what individuals can do with the opportunities available to them. If he can influence just one person, he is happy, St. Philippe said. “When I shared my dreams with some people, they often told me that I would not be able to even get into law school, let alone become a lawyer, so it is very refreshing to know that I’ve already proved them wrong and will continue to prove them wrong,” St. Philippe said. “I am proud of all that I have accomplished taking into account the obstacles that I had to go through.” On the Net Stetson University College of Law www.law.stetson.edu Haiti en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiti Blanche Ely High School www.broward.k12.fl.us/elyhigh

Peterson St. Philippe : 1L at Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport, FL  

St. Philippe, A Young Boy Growing Up In Haiti. He Is A First Year Student At Stetson University College Of Law. He Decided To Join Law Schoo...