Making the Most of Cambridge’s Experience through GREAT Scholarship: Shawn Reo’s LLM Journey

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Cambridge campus, the place where Shawn is taking her LLM. Source: personal documentation.

“As the only this year’s GREAT Scholarship recipient who is taking LLM Law, Shawn makes the most of the opportunity to explore her passion as a student of LLM programme at the prestigious University of Cambridge. She aspires to combine her background in International Law with her Master’s specialization, Commercial Law,  to create a fair and equal transnational business law system.” 

“In this article, she also shares her tips for future GREAT Scholarship applicants to be the most authentic version of themselves,  so the scholarship committee can see the real you–including the unique part of you that other applicants do not have.”

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Shawn’s journey prior to Cambridge’s LLM 

My name is Shawn Francine Alexandra Reo. I grew up in Lippo Karawaci, a small suburban town about 20 minutes east of Jakarta, where I spent my entire primary and secondary years. 

I was fortunate to have received the opportunity and support from the Dutch Ministry to pursue my interest in law at the Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, where I proceeded to spend the next four years seeking experiences to solidify my decision to pursue law. I engaged in ambitious extracurricular pursuits during my undergraduate, notably in the International Student Law Association and Invictus Student Association.

I was also heavily involved in academic research and have worked as a research assistant for several lecturers for projects involving the analysis of US, UK, and EU rules on administrative review, the transatlantic nature of the European Criminal Framework and conducting in-depth research on EU institutions and bodies.

Alongside my studies, I worked as a legal and policy researcher at several ministries and policy institutions in Indonesia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, where I developed the ability to critically evaluate theories and textual information, spot logical inconsistencies and fallacies, as well as form well-argued conclusions. 

These skills further flourished in my mooting activities, honing my oral advocacy by presenting valid legal arguments, and building on my sound knowledge of legislation and case law. This triggered my passion for advocacy, furthered by my role as course representative, where I developed good judgment and humility whilst fostering tactful and perceptive approaches to conflict. 

Additional time spent volunteering at the Indonesia Legal Aid allowed me to better comprehend the depths of diversity and adversity, as well as justice and injustice, in my own community and the world. These experiences, compounded by my natural curiosity, inspired me to undertake more global pursuits through Cambridge’s LLM programme.

The Cambridge LLM experience

The Cambridge LLM is a one-year taught master’s programme whereby students are required to take four courses (or in Cambridge lingo, ‘papers’) in total. The course offerings vary in all areas of law – from International Criminal Law to International Financial Law and even International Labor Law. 

Some students choose a selection of papers from various unrelated legal fields, while others choose to study a particular area or related areas of law. In my case, I decided to explore new areas of law I have not tackled before, such as Corporate Finance and Insolvency Law. 

Pursuing the LLM at the University of Cambridge has allowed me to gain both the theoretical and vocational skills necessary to achieve my goal of promoting justice within the international and commercial sphere within the UK. 

I firmly believe that a legal education at the University of Cambridge, with its core courses and its distinguished and supportive faculty, has equipped me with the additional instruments and resources necessary – allowing me one step closer to becoming a qualified legal professional in the near future. 

Moreover, obtaining a legal education from the University of Cambridge has pushed me beyond my conventional understanding into developing and defending my viewpoints and arguments as well as formally preparing me to help others, effectively seeking and finding justice in the truest and fullest sense of the word.

Punting tours, one of the activities to enjoy in Cambridge. Source: personal documentation

A brief introduction about the GREAT Scholarship 

The GREAT Scholarship is a jointly funded scheme initiated by the UK government’s GREAT Britain Campaign and the British Council with its participating UK higher education institutions. It offers students from across 18 countries the opportunity to pursue further education in the UK. 

I admit that I did not know much about the programme at first glance. However, upon further research, I did my best to fulfill the requirements provided, which included preparing for the IELTS test to meet the English language requirements and gaining additional information on the application process by connecting with past participants and alumni of the GREAT Scholarships.

Molding a fair and equitable law in transborder business : Shawn’s future orientation in developing commercial law

While I have a background in International and European Law, I have decided to pursue a specialization in Commercial Law at the University of Cambridge. This decision stemmed from a number of factors, but mostly my eagerness and compounded curiosity in pursuing an area that I have not explored as of yet, in this case, cross-border business booms and their regulation. 

As businesses increasingly cross borders, the practice of law must equally develop and change. Therefore, there is a big market to handle the complexities of transnational business interactions by formulating reasonable, fair, and equitable laws for all parties. 

However, this is not an easy feat due to both micro and macroeconomic and social pressures from multiple jurisdictions. I simply would like to gain a critical understanding of the process of corporate globalization through in-depth coverage tackled in corporate governance and commercial law. 

I want to explore the differences in laws and governance in countries across the globe and how they respond to economic and social pressures, assessing these approaches in times of economic stability and in crisis, focusing on corporate governance and commercial transactions. 

Ultimately, I would like to develop a comprehensive outlook on how commercial decisions are made by considering their socioeconomic context and creating good laws applicable to all parties.

Shawn aspires to create a law and equal transnational business system. Pursuing LLM in Cambridge is one of her strategies to realize that goal. Source: personal documentation

Tips for future GREAT Scholarship applicants

There are several important tips for future GREAT Scholarship applicants to secure the scholarship:

  • Apply as early as possible. Leave enough time to draft up your application. You would not want to rush into the logistics last minute and be all frazzled. I would recommend giving it a good month to look over the application;
  • Check whether the university of your choice is a participant. If they are, they might have some extra requirements for you to follow. You would not want to find that out last minute;
  • Be honest. The GREAT Scholarship team would like to award the opportunity to real human beings with real feelings, emotions, and experiences. They want to see your inner motivations and aspirations and whether they would be able to support that notion. Be as raw as possible. They would like to get to know you and your motivations, not what so and so says. Only with honesty will your real intentions be shown;
  • Get someone to read your application. Notice how I said ‘someone’ not ‘people’ or ‘a group of people’ to read your application. It is, in my experience, advantageous to get 1 or 2 individuals at most to help conduct grammar checks and provide constructive feedback. However, note that different people have different opinions. These opinions might unintentionally change the actual points you are trying to communicate in the application. So definitely keep it within 1 to 2 people at most;
  • Just apply. You have nothing to lose and only more to gain by doing so. So stop doubting yourself, and start applying. Good luck!

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Editor: Rizkiya Ayu Maulida


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Shawn is an LL.M. Candidate at the University of Cambridge. She has recently completed a degree at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, majoring in International and European Law. A progressive and highly ambitious individual, she is passionate about commercial law and economics and possesses the ability to foster tactful and perceptive approaches to conflict. A global citizen, Shawn has lived in Jakarta, The Hague, Lincoln and Cambridge. Her international background, multilingual abilities and interpersonal skills give her an edge to thrive in the 21st-century global society. At THUAS, she engaged in ambitious extracurricular pursuits, notably in the International Student Law Association and Invictus Student Association. She was also heavily involved in academic research and has worked as a research assistant for several lecturers for projects involving the analysis of US, UK and EU's rules on administrative review, the transatlantic nature of the European Criminal Framework and conducting in-depth research on EU institutions and bodies. In her free time, Shawn enjoys learning new languages, reading literary fiction, and playing badminton. She is currently based in Cambridge.

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