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Student Spotlight: Cindy Wakio – 3 Best Oralists Awards and 5 Moot wins

21 year old Cindy Wakio, joined Strathmore Law School in 2014 and it is in the same year, in the month of November, that she participated in her first moot court, where she and her teammates won.

Cindy explains her involvement with Moot Courts as an experience that she has come to love and one that has informed critical decisions for her life after Strathmore. Seeking guidance from Graduate Assistants (GA) Harrison Mbori and Emma Senge who introduced her to the first moot competition, Cindy has experienced great successes in this field.

For my first Moot experience I registered to compete for internals to start with, and I was selected together with a fellow 1st year and a 3rd year student. I barely knew the two, but I knew this was the beginning of new challenges to overcome. We enjoyed a couple of lunches together so that we blend, and it worked. That began my Moot journeys.

The team won that first moot in Arusha opening a world of possibilities for Cindy. Since then, Cindy has participated in 6 Moot Courts, winning best oralists three times, and enjoying five team wins.

After the Arusha Moot, I participated in another Moot where our team won again, and the Dean – Dr. Luis Franceschi took my team mate Roy and I for dinner to congratulate us. That felt so nice. I was suddenly “known” and lecturers expected me to participate in classes, and when I did not they would question why I am quiet. It was funny, because sometimes I actually did not have much to say.

Cindy’s 3rd Moot, for All Africa Competition was her first experience of a loss, as they did not make it to the finals. Coming from a place of enjoying two winnings, and having read much more for this Moot compared to the other two, Cindy experienced a sad period for the first time ever.

She however received numerous encouragements that propelled her to out for the World Moot where she got selected to represent the Strathmore team. She had also secured her judicial attachment in Mombasa County, which she was to attend weeks before the World competition. Due to her attachment, Cindy was advised to drop one of her commitments because she would otherwise not give her all with the second commitment. She opted to drop the world moot and involve herself with the judiciary interning, a sacrifice that won her a free ticket to represent the University for another Moot in the following year.

Cindy’s judicial experience was an eye-opener pushing her to try out for the SIASIC Moot hosted by Strathmore, where she won best prosecution. This was a different kind moot that she participated in, as she did not have the benefit of consulting faculty to help throughout the competition. Winning this moot therefore become a big source of validation to Cindy, as she realized she can participate in a moot on her own. She and the best defender winner for this moot, won a two week internship to ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia), which they attended after their Academic Europe tour. Their supervisor was legal advisor to the Chief Prosecutor ICTY Dr. Brammertz Serge.

Due to a mix up with the signing of a contract to Nuremberg Academy where Cindy and her co-winner were to initially undertake their internship, causing them to intern at ICTY instead, Cindy found herself in another dilemma as she was encouraged to go for the Nuremberg Academy in the following year despite her commitment to attending the world Moot. After convincing the Law School that she can do both moots, Cindy got started with preparing for two moots in 2016.

Some of these competitions I feel it is just God who enables me. We practiced orally for a week straight, for our Switzerland World Moot, where I won best oralists. Being the only African team in the top 5, was fascinating for me. I then went to Nuremberg and joined my all girls African team with no coach, ready to compete for the Nuremberg Academy Moot. Our competitors were really good and we did not feel we stood any chance of winning at any given round, but contrary to those thoughts we would win in each round. We were the best team in the finals and I won my 3rd best Oralists medal.

Summarizing her great wins, Cindy was involved in ICRC, All Kenya, All Africa, SIASIC, Nuremberg Academy and World Moots, winning three best Oralists.

I do not think there is a formula to winning best oralists. I just learnt to communicate, explaining my point of view on a case in such a way that I persuade the person on the other side to side with me. I always see these presentations as opportunities to help another person understand my point of view. This strategy is what has won be best Oralists all three times.

Cindy’s motivation to perform well in each moot, comes from her desire to learn better on the different topics she represents. She is also encouraged by the many opportunities that come after winning the moots.

In the next five to ten years, Cindy hopes to get into litigation, stemming from her great experiences at the Moots. She also feels her involvement with the moots brew a new interest in her towards human rights and humanitarian law, which she hopes will help her join The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights to undertake her Masters study.

Cindy’s best awards throughout her Moot experiences included her opportunities to intern at KAPLAN Law Firm in Kenya and ICTY. Also, her mother displays her, medals and plaques at home, which she shows off to her friends and family when they visit, making Cindy proud.

Whenever the Dean receives invitations for students to participate in certain areas of Law, especially in Humanitarian Law, he suggests my name and I get more opportunities out there.  I also engaged in a monogram with some of my colleagues and the faculty, which we were only allowed to write because of participating in a moot.

I got a 75% scholarship to join Strathmore Law School, though I did not want to study law from the start. But I am so glad I ended up in Strathmore studying Law, because the opportunities attained are tremendous.

Cindy, the 1st born of three children, will be the first Lawyer in her family. She draws her strength from her mother who reminds her that she is stronger than she thinks and smarter than she looks, believing she has something in her that other people do not have but can learn from her.

In her spare time, Cindy sings in the worship team for church while playing the guitar. She also engages in mission work activities.