Volunteerism with Human Rights Group Sparks Return to Law School

Bill Rice earned a politics and history degree at Lebanon Valley College and now is pursuing law school.

Bill Rice ’06 entered LVC not overly interested in politics. Now, 13 years later, he’s volunteering with international human rights groups, attending Georgetown University Law school, and planning a career in public interest law.

“I was a pretty apolitical type of person as a freshman at LVC,” Rice said. “Then after taking some political science, history, and religion classes, I really became passionate about the world around me, both locally and globally. I joined and became active in various student-groups related to political science, activism, and politics. Ever since then I've been hooked to these types of things—really with just a strong focus on how best to help other people however one can.”

Rice, who became a double major in political science and historical communications at LVC, is starting his second year at Georgetown and gaining practical experience in poverty law and international human rights. He is also completing an externship with the Virginia Poverty Law Center, where he focuses on housing-related issues. At the same time, he works part-time as a grants writer for Yazda, a non-profit governmental organization to help support the Yazidi people, an ethnic Kurdish-minority group indigenous to Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, and others who suffer from the humanitarian crises in those countries.

He first learned about Yazidi-related issues during an internship with the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq's office in Washington, D.C. while pursuing his master's degree in international peace and conflict resolution at American University. 

“I've really been inspired by the nonprofit work of Yazda and Amal Clooney [a Lebanese attorney specializing in international law and human rights and wife to actor George Clooney] in trying to bring justice to the Yazidi people and other minority groups who were victims of genocide and other terrible crimes,” he said. 

After receiving his master’s degree, Rice worked as a communications associate with the Association of the United States Army and as a government contractor on various projects at the Department of Agriculture and the United States Agency for International Development.

“During this time I also did a lot of volunteer and activism work,” Rice said. “I worked on various political campaigns in Virginia. After the release of the Trump administration's travel ban, I volunteered with the Dulles Justice Coalition to assist immigration attorneys providing legal assistance to those negatively affected by it.” 

All of these experiences piqued Rice’s curiosity about legal issues and spurred his decision to attend law school.

“Public interest law really interested me,” he said. “I liked the idea of using the law to benefit underserved communities and people and to stand up and support human rights.”

Rice believes that LVC prepared him well for the professional world, not only by educating him about important concepts and ideas, but also by teaching practical skills and knowledge. 

“My English and social sciences experience really trained me in how to think outside the box, how to think creatively ,and how to think on my feet in high-pressure situations,” Rice said. “Those are some of the most valuable types of skills that have benefited me and that I have seen in others in the workforce. I’d like to thank LVC and all the awesome professors who shaped me into the person I am.”