December 13, 2009
After he completed his program of basic studies at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, Claudio Berther decided he wanted to study abroad. For one year, he and about 40 other students have joined the student body at UGA. Berther studies law, and he knew UGA has a highly-regarded law school. He also uses a wheelchair, and he heard that the United States is one of the most accessible places in the world for wheelchair users. Berther has met numerous people at UGA, and he is actively involved in a community of other people with disabilities. He has been traveling to New York and Washington, D.C. and making contacts all over the university. After he finishes his degree, he plans to work for an international organization like the United Nations or work in a law firm specializing in disability law.
Master of Laws
University highlights, achievements and awards:
I completed the termination of the Licentiate I, which concludes the basic studies at my home institution, the University of Zurich, Switzerland. I am also proud to have been selected for the only study-abroad program at UGA that was available to law students from the University of Zurich.
Danis, Switzerland (close Davos and St. Moritz)
I chose to attend UGA because...
Because I have had cerebral palsy since birth, and I use a wheelchair, it was pretty clear to me that my foreign exchange was going to take place in the United States. In addition, I heard from so many disabled people how forward-thinking the United States is in matters of disabilities and how everything is accessible. This turned out to be true, and the accessibility offers a never-experienced independence that I am enjoying very much.
My favorite things to do on campus are...
...swimming at the Ramsey Center and enjoying life at Starbucks or Walker’s Café right across from the Arch.
When I have free time, I like...
...to travel, so I took the chance to see the two amazing cities of New York and Washington D.C. while I have been here in the United States. Life-long memories were formed on those trips from the awesome time I spent in these great cities.
The craziest thing I've done is...
...come to Athens completely on my own, trying to find my electric scooter and my lost suitcases after a 10 hour flight!
My favorite place to study is...
...the Law Library, because it is a quiet place and you are never alone in there. It does not matter if it is first thing in the morning or the middle of the night. There is always a nice working atmosphere there.
My favorite professor is...
As neutral Swiss citizen, I would never prefer one to another in public. Honestly, I appreciate all professors I’ve had! However, Marybeth Callison, my public speaking professor, has a profound knowledge and pleasure of the subject and is able to give constructive critiques after every speech. She also involves the class in her teaching. My improved skills will be very useful no matter which field of law I end up practicing, and these skills also serve me well on private occasions.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
...Lewis Hamilton. I have a great passion for Formula One racing, and I admire his commitment to the sport. He won the World Championship in his second year of racing at the young age of 23—my age—and spending an afternoon with him would surely provide an unforgettable time.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
...create something like the Americans with Disabilities Act for Switzerland. This effort would force all companies and public places to be more accessible and bring other disability-related matters to a higher level. There would be so many people benefiting from it. With my studies of law, I hope to be able to influence changes in that direction.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
...the time I saw the UGA football team play. I was impressed seeing 92,000+ people in Stanford Stadium even before the football game began! However, I was really surprised to see people tailgating at 8:30 a.m. and seeing that the excitement was not only limited to campus, but spread out over the whole city of Athens! Seeing that pride and being part of the Bulldog Nation was an unforgettable experience for me.