UCL News


7 questions with Firoza Dodhi

25 May 2017

This week, meet Firoza Dodhi, an LLB Laws student set to graduate this July.

Firoza Dodhi Firoza shares her ideas around how volunteering can enrich the student experience and explains why she is so inspired by confident women.

What are you studying and when do you graduate?

I am studying for a Bachelor of Laws (LLB Hons) and will graduate in July 2017. 

Why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?

Like any 13-year-old who reads To Kill A Mockingbird for the first time, I was intrigued by a seemingly esoteric notion - justice: that the legal system was accessible, transparent and fair to all that relied upon it. I chose to read laws at UCL because I am inspired by the potential the law affords to contribute to society: making aspects more efficient and improving existing structures.  

I am determined to follow a career that allows me to do so. A legal background has provided me to the ability to critically examine the evolving world that surrounds us, and develop potential solutions to problems that arise. 

I will be completing my LLM in the coming year so that I can gain a broader understanding of where my interests and abilities align. 

What is the most interesting thing you've done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

When I first joined UCL, I was determined to step outside my comfort zone. The opportunities available to sample new sports was incredibly exciting. Joining the Novice Fencing Team in my first year was an incomparable opportunity for me to take a risk and challenge myself. Having coaching from a professional fencer, and working alongside fellow novices as we improved our own skill, was fascinating! 

I was the Publications Officer of the UCL Law Society during 2015-2016. As the Editor-in-Chief, I was responsible for bringing two editions of the student-run Law Review publication The Silk v Brief to print. 

We were sponsored by five global legal practices, featured the writing of students from Harvard University, and interviewed eminent city professionals.

Managing the publication was an incomparable learning experience for me: leading a committee, racing to meet an imminent deadline and maintaining a balance between professionalism and journalistic integrity.

As part of a final year module entitled 'Access to Justice and Community Engagement', I had the opportunity to complete legal casework. I volunteer as a pro-bono advisor, representing clients at Social Security Appeals Tribunals and have been responsible for preparing their cases for hearings. 

In this capacity, I had the chance to: conference with a client, assemble evidence to support their claim, and prepare and deliver submissions to a judicial panel. 

Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?

The most exciting part about Bloomsbury is the stories that each corner tells. Wander into any pub, bookshop or coffeehouse and you will find those that frequent them, ready share their favourite moments. 

The British Library provides an excellent area to study quietly. Not only are there outlets and desk spaces available, but being surrounded by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves certainly creates an incredible atmosphere. 

My favourite part of this space is being able to visit the Treasures Collection after a long day of studying. It's difficult not to be inspired when you are working in such close proximity to irreplaceable artefacts. 

The numerous cafés in the Bloomsbury area double as great study and hangout spots. You can find one on almost every block you pass; I recommend visiting all of these as you get the chance through your degree. A personal favourite for great quiet reading space, friendly staff, and delicious coffee is Half Cup on Judd St. 

Even though most of us spend April and May revising for and completing exams, it is also when Bloomsbury really comes to life! I suggest taking a much-needed 'brain break' and wandering through any of the green spaces around campus. 

While all the gardens are inviting, Tavistock Square is especially magical, as the cherry blossoms begin to bloom. My favourite sight is the multicoloured paper cranes, annually displayed as a manifestation of unity and peace. 

Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London.

1. Museum lates! My personal favourite is the Tate Britain. The last time I visited was during London Fashion Week, and one of the exhibits included a live modelling sequence to celebrate an upcoming show. There's also a viewing level that allows you to catch an unparalleled view of the River Thames and the London skyline. 

2. St Martin-in-the-Fields is not only an incredibly beautiful church, but boasts classical concerts during lunchtime and some evenings. One of my favourite memories was a concert featuring an expert violinist playing Vivaldi and Bach. 

Next door is the Café in the Crypt. The afternoon tea service is especially lovely; it is affordable and the ambience is totally unique.

3. Ask anyone and they will tell you that the best way to really get a sense of London is by walking around. 

One of my favourite walks starts in Bloomsbury, walking past the Houses of Parliament, across Westminster Bridge, and down along South-Bank towards Blackfriars Bridge. Crossing over into the city, and towards Aldgate and east London, promises some beautiful photo opportunities - especially in the late afternoon! 

If you start your walk from east London and trace the route in the opposite direction, I highly suggest joining a street art tour. Often for a nominal price, you get the chance to learn about London's history, and admire the effort and artistic integrity that goes into creating these contemporary masterpieces. 

If you were Provost for the day what one thing would you do?

Have a monthly afternoon dedicated to volunteering - whether within UCL or around the London community. 

The sense of community at UCL was something that drew me to this university initially, and consistently manifests itself around the Bloomsbury campus. I am a firm believer that opportunities allowing us to give back to our community will foster a greater sense of belonging. I am dedicated to promoting youth participation in volunteerism. 

UCL is so fortunate to be situated in central London, which for all of its incredible opportunities clearly delineates the paradox of the privileged from those who are not. Encouraging young people to focus energy on 'giving back' can become a powerful catalyst for change. 

These actions could include: tutoring, engaging with senior citizens and supporting local London events. The UCL Volunteering Society provides incredible opportunities for students. These efforts can be multiplied through a scheduled volunteering period. 

Balancing a single, monthly volunteering period is not an intense burden to students' timetables and can enrich our student experience. 

Through consistent acts of service, we become active contributors in our community and can create meaningful legacies. 

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I love music! My grandparents have been hugely influential in developing my passion and interest in many genres of music. 

I've been playing the flute for more than a decade now! I love learning classical European pieces, and I am beginning to discover the work of classical South-Asian composers. 

In high school, I had the opportunity to learn the alto saxophone and tenor saxophone, and most recently I've begun to (very slowly) learn the guitar! 

Who inspires you and why?

This is my favourite question because there are so many people who I am inspired by! 

The easiest answer has to be my parents. They are two of the most hard-working, resilient and selfless individuals I know. I am constantly inspired by the drive with which they make their dreams, and more often mine, a complete reality. 

I have a very close-knit extended family as well, and learning from their insights and experiences is so valuable.  

I have also had the privilege of being mentored and coached by some of the most brilliant teachers. 

My kindergarten teachers inspired me with their kindness; my seventh-grade teacher inspired me with a single phrase: 'Do not be afraid of your own potential'; my music teacher inspired me to remain committed to my passion; my advisor in high school, a gold medallist Olympian, constantly reminds me that attitude is everything and to never stop short of transforming my ambitions into reality. 

This response would be amiss without revealing that I'm perhaps most inspired by my peers. I have had the opportunity to learn alongside some of the most talented, intelligent and focused individuals throughout my education in Canada, and more recently at UCL Laws. 

Over the past three years, it has never ceased to amaze me that I have had the chance to grow alongside some of the brightest legal minds of the future. I am graduating with a deep sense of empowerment and motivation, created by our shared potential. 

Finally, and most pertinent at this stage of my life, is the confident women who I have been inspired by. These women are deliberate, courageous and unstoppable. 

The women that I don't know personally: running for public office, fighting against injustice, creating space in the business or legal worlds, discovering scientific solutions and cracking glass ceilings every step of the way, truly amaze me! 

The capable women I am fortunate to be surrounded by, defy scepticism and are making their dreams come true. One, a rising actress fearlessly moved to New York and then L.A. to follow her dreams. 

Another, still at university, has founded her own profitable apparel and merchandise line. A third, writes and reads poetry in Manhattan, discovering and sharing her voice. Another still, supporting my journey from across the Atlantic with her wisdom and friendship. 

There are countless others, too many to name, and yet all equally inspirational. It is their kindness, sincerity and authenticity that continues to encourage and inspire my own.