Written by Helena Kaufman
In 2001, Jane Gatwiri Rukaria, a lawyer and human rights worker in her native Kenya, did what many immigrants do. She left a familiar place, family, friends and an established identity to start life in a new country.
She drew strength and confidence from her own mother’s life. “I was one of three daughters raised outside the conventional family style expected of a woman in Kenya,” says Rukaria. “The importance of education and standing up for what mattered was clear to me early on in life.”
Rukaria got a lucky break professionally. Most of her courses in Law at Nairobi University were recognized. Excellent references and prior work experience as a litigation lawyer and partner in a Mombassa law firm also helped.
“My university years were good.” Stepping back to school at UBC got Rukaria the help she needed to understand local legal and hiring practices, networking and more about how to go about establishing herself in a new culture. Once she got her articles, she opened her own office and specializes in immigration and refugee protection law. She also offers her clients other services, in English and Swahili.
For Jane Rukaria, professional life, work in the community and in her church are all integrated and must align with her values and direction. “I read constantly. I listen to people. I ask myself: “What improvements can I make as a person and how will this impact positively on my community?”