June 17, 2022

UCalgary Political Science Congratulates: Laura Somers

Winner of the 2021–22 the Silver Medallion for the International Relations Program!
pink flowers

Medallions presented at convocation are among the most prestigious of University awards. These awards reflect the highest academic distinction earned by a student in a particular discipline.

Silver Medallions: Each department (or equivalent unit) awards one silver medallion to the student graduating with the highest distinction in scholarship in their program.


Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a graduate of the University of Calgary where I obtained a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with Distinction. During my studies, I served as Vice-President of Model United Nations and competed internationally, bringing home awards from Washington D.C., Ottawa, and Vancouver. I was also a member of the Arts and Science Honours Academy, where I supplemented my degree with classes from a variety of academic disciplines.

L. Somers in grad gown

Outside of school, I am a courthouse volunteer with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary. Through this position, I help marginalized populations navigate the legal system. Having the opportunity to observe trials at the Calgary Courts Centre sparked my passion for criminal law. I am also an office administrator for my local community association, where I organize events to bring my neighbourhood together.

In my free time, I enjoy playing the piano, watching true crime documentaries, and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

As the Silver Medallion winner, you must have had some favourite courses or areas of study?

Within International Relations, I specialized in international institutions and governance for my thematic cluster, Europe for my regional cluster, and Spanish for my language focus. As an aspiring lawyer, I was deeply interested in international human rights law and had the opportunity to apply my passion by researching issues with real-world implications. In ASHA 321 Representation, I completed a research project on the downfalls of human rights initiatives in Africa. In POLI 487 International Organizations, I explored the political implications of NATO’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, and in POLI 483 International Law, I learned about the legal ramifications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

My studies culminated in a semester-long research project for my INTR 597 Independent Study course. In my thesis titled "The Human Cost of Holding States Accountable: The Implications of the Extradition Case of Julian Assange for the International Human Rights Regime", I explore the legal frameworks surrounding the extradition of political activist Julian Assange and the human rights violations committed against him.

After your degree, are there any plans that you would like to share?

I am excited to be attending the University of Alberta this fall to complete my Juris Doctor degree. I hope to apply what I have learned throughout my academic and extracurricular experiences to practice criminal law in the future. My dream is to one day become a judge for the Provincial Court of Alberta in the criminal division.

Any advice for students entering the program?

Strive for balance! University provides a wonderful opportunity to make life-long friends and memories. I learned the most outside of the classroom through discussions with my professors, extracurricular activities, and independent research. Make the most out of your degree and specialize in an area that ignites your passion. Your contributions to the field of International Relations are needed now more than ever, and you will find your place in the world in time. Have fun, do what makes you happy, and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. You got this!

Congratulations to Laura Somers on you 2021–22 Silver Medallion in the International Relations Program!

To find out more about our paper prizes and past prize winners, please visit the Political Science website.