"IT feels good to be world champion," says Shantez Rahji Stewart, 26, a soon-to-be attorney-at-law and one of the key members of the winning team from Norman Manley Law School, which last month won the Frankfurt International Investment Arbitration Moot Court Competition.
Stewart, alongside team members Caprice McFarlane, Munroe Wisdom, Kenyatta Powell and Mark Hope, defeated the University of Versailles, France, in the finals of the competition, which was held on March 16, to bring the trophy to Jamaica.
The competition was held in Frankfurt, Germany.
"It feels good to have won against schools which are more known in the international arena," the excited first-year student of the Council of Legal Education says.
Stewart says it was "teamwork" which played a major role in the success of the team at the competition.
"I feel vindicated and it is a testament to the importance of teamwork, dedication and hard work. The team was a strong cohesive group that bonded together to bring success not only to our school, but to Jamaica and the Caribbean," he tells Career & Education.
He says most notably, the team competed against students who are pursuing the LLM (master of laws) in international investment law and arbitration, "and we had absolutely no exposure to the subject area prior to the trials for the competition".
Stewart tells Career & Education that preparing for the challenge in Frankfurt was not an easy task.
"It was very difficult and time consuming," he says, explaining that none of the team members had been exposed to the investment arbitration area of law and it required learning the area completely in order to be able to adequately present before experts and jugdes in the field.
But their coaches Professor Stephen Vasciannie, principal of the law school, Jermaine Case, Dorcas White and Celia Middleton, ensured that they were drilled, and that their skills were tested.
" We had to borrow books and do extensive research online in order to get information," he says.
Stewart, a native of St Catherine, and one of the 2003 graduates of St George's College, has long been making his mark in academics. He completed his LLB (bachelor of laws) programme at the Cave Hill, Barbados campus, and was appointed class valedictorian in 2011.
In Barbados, he was also awarded the Anthony & Joe Bland Academic Scholarship. He was a nominee in the Prime Minister Youth Awards in 2008 for excellence in leadership and was a finalist (oral round) of the International Negotiation on Access to Medicine in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2010.
In addition to these, he once served as chairman of the Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students; between 2008 and 2009 he served as the vice- president of the UWI Guild of Students, Mona; student representative in the UWI Mona Disciplinary Committee and UWI Mona Academic Board; chairman of the UWI Student Council Research and Response Committee; and external affairs chairman of the UWI Student Council.
What's his motivation?
"My primary motivation is my family, more specifically my mother and little cousins," Stewart tells Career & Education.
"I have a duty to create a path that they too can follow, and to act as motivator and role model in instilling the importance of hard work and dedication as a vital element of achieving success," he adds.
Next up in his planning is to pursue his LLM and specialise in the area of commercial law, banking and financial regulation.
"To date I have been blessed to be given an offer by my dream school in England, the London School of Economics, to fulfil my desire in this regard," he says.