Army paratrooper lands at Law School

first_imgHarvard Law Today profiles students in the incoming class who held leadership positions in the armed forces and later decided to pursue law. The four chosen were Steven Kerns, J.D. ’20, U.S. Army; Jenna Reed, LL.M. ’18, U.S. Marine Corps; Nathan Jester, J.D. ’20, U.S. Marine Corps; and Isabel Marin, J.D. ’20, U.S. Marine Corps. Kerns is profiled here; to read the remaining profiles, visit Harvard Law Today’s website.Steven Kerns was a high school dropout, a self-described “rebel without a cause” from Long Beach, Calif., when he joined the U.S. Army as a teenager looking for adventure, with vague notions of changing the world. As soon as he deployed to Afghanistan and entered the war zone in May 2007, his romanticism was knocked out of him.A soldier with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team — Kerns chose to become a paratrooper to overcome his fear of heights — he was assigned to the notoriously dangerous Kunar and Nuristan provinces. On Nov. 9, 2007, two squads out on foot patrol were caught in a vicious ambush and came under assault from rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. Kerns’ base was also brutally attacked, forcing him and his fellow soldiers to fight for their lives.When the attack on the base was finally repelled, Kerns and his comrades there were ordered to stay put; the risks of trying to help the squads under ambush were too high. “I knew my friends were being killed,” Kerns said. As he later wrote in his personal essay to Harvard Law School (HLS), “Their voices haunted our radios.”Although Sgt. Kyle J. White received the Medal of Honor for saving lives during the ambush, five men from Chosen Company and a Marine adviser were killed. Chosen Company had spent more than a year together in Vicenza, Italy, so each death was a piercing loss, Kerns said. But the death of 23-year-old Cpl. Sean K.A. Langevin, whose wife was due to give birth to their daughter Zoe a few days later, had a huge impact on Kerns. It was the impetus for his journey into “post-traumatic growth,” he says.“Although I’ve never met Zoe, this little girl has inspired me to do everything I can in my power to be a better person,” said Kerns, “so that one day when I do meet her, I can tell her, ‘I knew your dad, and he is a better man than me.’”Over the following months, the base endured constant attacks. When Kerns finally left and landed at Bagram Air Base in relative safety, he felt a wave of unimaginable relief. But it was fleeting. Minutes later, he learned that nine men from 2nd Platoon in Chosen Company had been killed in the Battle of Wanat, often described as the deadliest battle in the war. “We lost nine guys just four days before we left for home,” including Kerns’ best friend from basic training, Cpl. Gunnar Zwilling. “I entered the deepest numb of my life. I was out of touch with my emotions for a long time,” Kerns said.Kerns, a sergeant, fulfilled the rest of his military commitment at Fort Irwin National Training Center in California. Three days after leaving the Army, armed with newfound resolve, he started classes at Long Beach Community College, where he soared academically and began to put his quiet promise to Zoe into action. “Leading people toward a better world required me to trade in my rifle for books and replace the unfocused ambition of my youth for the dedication of my life,” he wrote in his HLS essay.Kerns decided to spearhead an effort to build a memorial bench honoring Sgt. Israel Garcia, who had been killed at Wanat and who, like Kerns, had attended Long Beach Poly High School. Despite initial resistance from the school, Kerns organized a diverse group that included artists, musicians, government officials, and veterans to raise money to build the bench. “This experience allowed me to begin leaving the war behind me as I knew that I could lead people to positive change in our society,” he wrote.After community college, Kerns enrolled at California State University in Long Beach, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in environmental science and policy, and receiving the Outstanding Graduate Award in his major. As an intern for a California congressman, Kerns assisted local veterans with their VA claims, and he also worked at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. As part of a National Science Foundation program, he designed and executed a six-week experiment in the Costa Rica rainforest, where the devastation of deforestation fueled his interest in environmental preservation. After college, he spent a year as an AmeriCorps CivicSpark Water Action Fellow in Chino Hills, Calif., where he helped design plans for storm water runoff and strategic drought resistance.With an eye on a career in environmental law and policy, he was accepted to several very good law schools. But he was reluctant to apply to HLS — with an LSAT score of 163, he was sure he’d be rejected. His girlfriend insisted that he apply, and not long after an interview with the HLS admissions office, the former high school dropout got a phone call he had never expected. When he learned he’d been admitted the class of 2020, Kerns said, “I got this wave of relief. I knew I was one step closer to making good on that promise to Zoe.”Having served among soldiers he considers heroes, including those who lost their lives, Kerns downplays his own military contribution.“But I’m so happy to have been in that arena with those people. Just being part of that whole thing fundamentally changed my life. I think it’s true for so many of the Chosen soldiers I was with, that the platitudes you get told in basic [training, for a moment came true, and we lived what warrior culture espoused,” he said. “It imprints you, and I’m deeply grateful for that. We paid a heavy price, one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. You could offer me $1 billion to wipe my mind and I wouldn’t.”Kerns said he’s come full cycle from youthful romanticism to its loss amid the horror of war to finding a new sense of purpose. “I replaced my teenaged idealism with the dedication of adult life,” he said.Today, Kerns wants to focus on environmental law and its intersection with national security. “What’s the point of my friends sacrificing if we’re destroying the planet?” he said. “I have that desire to protect our country and make my friends’ sacrifice worth it.” Once he is a second-year, he also plans to do pro bono legal work for military veterans through the HLS Veterans Law and Disability Clinic.Kerns said he’s met a few HLS students who have told him they’d never known a soldier, which confirms his belief that putting a human face on the military is something America needs right now.“If you don’t have humanization of the military, then you get a bunch of policy decisions I don’t support,” he said. “If the blood of an American soldier is cheap in this country, then the blood of an Afghan is cheaper, and cheaper still is the blood of a person killed by a drone strike in-country that doesn’t make the news.“When blood is cheap, then perpetual war is easy, and if that’s the case, then who or what are we serving for?”last_img read more

USC takes down Stanford in convincing fashion

first_imgUSC coach Kevin O’Neill waited almost two years to break the streak, but as the old adage goes, all streaks are made to be broken.The Trojans (15-12, 7-7), who hadn’t beaten back-to-back road opponents since former coach Tim Floyd’s squad defeated the Oregon schools on Jan. 24 and Jan. 26 2008, took down the Stanford Cardinal 69-53 on Saturday night at Maples Pavilion, completing their two-game sweep of the Bay Area schools.Coupled with Thursday night’s win over California 78-75, USC snapped their eight-game streak of road futility with the help of junior forward Nikola Vucevic’s double-double (19 points and 14 rebounds) and a rare burst of offensive consistency from senior Alex Stepheson, who scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field.For the second straight night, USC played hard for the entire 40 minutes on the defensive end, limiting Stanford (13-13, 6-9) to 33 percent shooting and 17 percent from beyond the three-point arc.After trailing 12-8 four minutes into the first half, the Trojans went on a 22-4 run over a nine-minute span and led at halftime 40-31.Stanford’s junior forward Josh Owens, who finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, cut the gap to seven with a quick basket to the start the second half, but a 10-0 run sparked by a Stepheson dunk and Vucevic three-point shot pushed the lead up to 17, and the Trojans never looked back.For the second straight game, senior guard Donte Smith started in place of freshman guard Maurice Jones.The move paid off Saturday night too, as Smith and Jones provided scoring balance for USC’s offense, scoring 13 and 10 respectively.In a losing effort, the Cardinal were led by Owens and freshman forward Josh Huestis’ play off the bench. Huestis put in a career-high 11 points in 19 minutes of action.The win for USC not only ended their woes away from home, but put them in a tie for fourth place in the Pac-10 standings with Oregon, while Stanford dropped to eighth in the conference.While dreams of dancing in March are still long shots for both teams, the top six teams from the conference get a bye in the first round of next month’s conference tournament at Staples Center.USC returns home next week to face No. 13 Arizona (23-4, 12-2) at the Galen Center.After their thrilling 87-86 win over Washington on Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats sit alone atop the conference heading into their 7:30 p.m. contest with the Trojans on Thursday night.last_img read more

By Magda Haugen WFWP Germany On Saturday March 3

By Magda Haugen WFWP Germany On Saturday March 3

first_imgBy Magda Haugen, WFWP GermanyOn Saturday, March 30, 2019, Women’s Federation Germany held its national meeting in the Family Federation building in Frankfurt am Main. There were more than 40 participants from all over Germany and from other countries as well. Numerous members, friends from other organizations and some new guests found their way to us! The Frankfurt Org.Team with Tea Sun provided beautiful decorations in the room and also for drinks, snacks, fruit, and cake. Stefan Kunde provided professional technical support, so that all PowerPoint presentations and speakers functioned optimally. We were filmed and photographed by Benjamin Rauschert, who also deserves a big thank you, because he “spontaneously” made sure that we even appeared in the EUME “News from around our region.”The 1st presentation by Nicole La Hogue (2nd chair of the Women’s Federation Germany) was a report on her recent stay in New York at the UN, from early to mid-March, at the CSW 63 (Commission on the Status of Women). She showed us through pictures how many important subjects regarding “Family and Social Security” were covered in various lectures and events around the UN. More than 1,000 women from all over the world participated very actively in the Commission.Nicole reported on encounters with important influential personalities, women from various networks and very current topics and questions. Many serious women from all over the world are wondering how a culture of peace be can developed!After this presentation, Bettina Kircher (Consultant Conflict and Development Management) reported about her work with peacekeeping missions around the world! With the Red Cross, UNO Blue Helmets, the Farc in Colombia, or between rivaling ethnic groups in the Congo, she was able to experience different problems that exist for women and children. She discussed how dramatically gender roles in conflict regions can change.By reporting on a variety of frontlines and crisis situations, she explained that most of the victims of wars are not soldiers, but the civilian population, especially the women. We were shown how women in wars play roles as fighters and soldiers in equal positions of power as men, but also how they can very easily become victims, such as sex slaves and suicide bombers. In rich Europe, we often find it difficult to understand what it means to live or to survive as a woman in these crisis regions. Above all, the transition from “male” positions of power back to subordinate positions in village life, with a family, as a wife and mother, is not easy. Bettina was able to show us very impressively through her field report how hard it is, for example, to resocialize child soldiers, to bring them back to their mothers in their village, and to do reconciliation work as a woman in crisis regions. Her experience in de-escalation, conflict and development management on many front lines has enabled her to lecture nationwide as well as at the Hamburger Bundeswehr University and in police trainings. She also signaled the importance of education, positive experiences in the family, and non-violent communication, as building blocks for a stable mental development. After all, early experiences of violence have a very significant and stressful effect on children, who then become victims first and then often become perpetrators themselves. Using the example of her own personal inner work for reconciliation and forgiveness, she pointed out that the beginning of peace is in one’s own heart: “Peace starts with me” is also her personal mantra and connection to the Women’s Federation, with whom she feels warmly attached. It was a lecture that really touched me and obviously many others in the room as well!Next spoke Carolyn Handschin, (WFWPI-UN Office, WFWP-Europe- Pres.), who had come specially from Switzerland to present us her work with the UN International and in Europe. She discussed how successful the work of the International Women’s Federation has become, how much esteem is now being placed on the worldwide deployment of women in the Women’s Federation, and above all about the founder, Dr. HakJaHan Moon. Carolyn reported on her recent work with the UN in New York, as well as various UN events in Europe, for example in Geneva and Vienna.Using the example of Waris Dirie (a model and author from Somalia) who recently accepted the SunHak Peace Prize from the founder, Dr. HakJaHan Moon, Carolyn showed how such important initiatives worldwide can help to prevent cruelty to girls!Fighting together for the dignity of women and girls has united many strong, internationally-recognized women with the Women’s Federation for World Peace and its founder. Again, there was a lot of applause and great interest.After the lunch break there was an introduction to energy work by Monika Waldenmaier. She led us first in a breathing exercise for inner relaxation, so that we became calm, felt our heart, and allowed our energy flow to reopen. Then she touched us all through the testimony of how her own past and her later work as a healer and energy therapist were related! Her description of her hard childhood, her experiences with illness, her near-death experiences as well as her work as a healer, alternative practitioner, and energy therapist was very authentic.She was able to share with us very vividly because of her deep experiences as a trainer in these professions, by lecturing and in her own practice. Through her presentation she deepened our knowledge of our inner powers and pointed out what robs energy and what gives energy! She also explained very clearly how we can access energy sources.This “bundle of energy” called Monika inspired us very much and in the subsequent division into working groups many participants wanted to deepen their understanding of this topic “energy work” even more. The working groups “Conflict Management” with Bettina and “Women in the UN” with Carolyn were also very well attended and everyone worked intensively on the respective topics (and did not want to stop…). The brainstorming regarding “Future projects” with Nicole La Hogue was also well received!In the concluding assembly, the spokespersons of the respective groups presented a summary, so that everyone could benefit from the results. Rita Seewald also reported on the “Bagandou” initiative, which is regularly financially supported by the Women’s Federation Germany. The collected donations will be divided for the newly founded WFWP in Cameroon (initiative of Gudrun Mobo) and for enlargement of the “Bagandou projects” – Education for Central Africa (Matthias Monzebe). The latest project that we want to support as Women’s Federation: microcredit for women!Before the coffee break there was also a gift for the “birthday girl” Monika Waldenmaier, including birthday cake. At the end there were also presents for the other speakers. Much applause and many thanks to all who helped and contributed to the success of this conference, in front of and behind the scenes!Also from me at this point many thanks to all who participated, it was a great pleasure to prepare this conference and to experience it with all of you!Reflections“I was very happy to come and was not disappointed. It was a very nice reception and reunion. Each lecture was good and in some way instructive, valuable and expanded horizons. Monika was very impressive with many useful tips and endless experiences that can be very helpful! ”“The reports provided a good insight into the work of the Women’s Federation in the UN and this is much more concrete for me now! ”“Intelligent and well-founded knowledge and authentic heart in the lectures. Everything was organized well. I felt like everyone is part of me, and will participate more in the future. In the future, possibly be more diplomatic in time management … ”“The guest lecture by Bettina Kircher was exciting and nice – it was great to hear from someone who has experience on the front lines. There were valuable insights into energy work by Monika as well. Altogether a very nice and interesting day with a very good organization.”“I felt very well, there were such good presentations. I’m inspired and go home fueled with energy. Maybe we should offer something like this for other women.”“From Bettina’s lecture I remembered the term “Abunzi” from Rwanda: that means the special ability of women to have a reconciling heart in mediation.”.last_img read more