Student Profile: Winnie Gabriel

Winnie Gabriel in the Atrium

Of all the paths that have led students to the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, there are none like Winnie Hugot Gabriel’s. Lawyer, journalist, author: Winnie brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her studies as an LL.M. student.

Winnie joins the LL.M. program as a Fulbright Student from Haiti. She is using her time at Maryland Carey Law to study intellectual property and cyber security law in the hopes of turning what she learns here into a reform of Haiti’s intellectual property and technology regulations.  More broadly, she aims to promote what she calls her three pillars: to help people, to serve her country, and to contribute to its development.

Protecting IP and Technology

Winnie identifies two areas of the law that she would like to improve in Haiti: the intellectual property system and laws surrounding technology. “Haitian people are artists,” Winnie explains, “but we don’t have the necessary intellectual property regulations in place to protect them.”

As a part of her studies, Winnie visited the organization Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. Their model of matching artists with volunteer lawyers appealed to Winnie and she aims to create a similar organization in Haiti. “When I do return to Haiti, I hope to create an association that can do advocacy for intellectual property and technology because, after being in America, I see the connection between the protection of intellectual property rights and development as a nation.”

Winnie is also concerned about the Haitian laws surrounding new technology being behind the times. “We want better regulation of technology to protect the population, provide a safe cyber space, and reap the benefits that come along with the internet. As a young leader, I feel responsible to contribute to Haiti’s technological development. I want to serve my country and build a legacy in Haiti because I know people there need the work that I do.”

A Role Model for Women

In addition to the goal of reforming Haiti’s intellectual property systems, Winnie is driven by her desire to confront women’s issues in Haiti. As a lawyer, journalist, and author, she hopes to do that by promoting women’s rights, being a role model to inspire women and girls, and helping them to unlock their full potential.

Unique for a woman in Haiti, Winnie has a column that appears regularly on the front page of “Le Nouvelliste,” one of the major newspapers in Haiti. As part of her work with the paper, she was assigned to profile people working in the legal field. It was that experience that sparked Winnie’s interest in telling the stories of Haiti’s women. Immersed in the project, she continued to write profiles of a broad selection of women in Haiti and published “Haitian Women: 60 Exceptional Profiles” in 2018.

Reception to the book has been very positive. Winnie explains that, though women make up 52% of the population of Haiti, they are underrepresented in almost every space in society, especially leadership roles, and she wishes for this book to improve the situation. “Sometimes fear of loneliness and several other factors prevent women from realizing their full potential, but, with this book, I hope that women see that it’s okay to go out of your comfort zone and say to themselves, ‘I will succeed, I can do that, I’m not alone.’ I hope that my book will serve as a guide to all women in my country and that the portraits of these outstanding women will inspire them to make a difference and to succeed”

As part of her efforts to encourage the women of Haiti, Winnie returned there during Maryland Carey Law’s winter break to organize events to empower girls. She visited an orphanage for underprivileged girls and distributed a copy of “Haitian Women: 60 Exceptional Profiles” to each of them to encourage them to read and provide them with inspiration. She plans to visit them again on her next trip home.

For her efforts, Winnie has amassed an impressive array of honors. Among them are being named a “Woman of 2015” by Discover Haiti, a “Women of 2018” by Dofen News, and an “Impactful Young Women of 2018” by Ticket Magazine.

Winnie Gabriel posing

In her short time here, Winnie has made a significant impression on her professors. Founding Director of the Women Leadership & Equality Program, Paula Monopoli, exclaims: “Winnie is a multi-talented lawyer, journalist, and author who has greatly enriched our Maryland Carey Law community. She is dedicated to learning about measures to advance gender equality in the legal profession while she’s here and to taking those lessons back to advance women in Haiti. It’s been inspiring to get to know her and see her dedication to this goal.”

Dean of Maryland Carey Law, Donald Tobin, shared Monopoli’s sentiments saying: “We are thrilled that Winnie chose to attend Maryland Carey Law for her Fulbright Student Program. Winnie is currently a student in my Law and Leadership class, so I have seen firsthand how her background, experience, and perspectives enliven the classroom. We are proud to have her as a student at Maryland Carey Law, and I expect to see great things from her in the future.”

Winnie’s commitment to Haiti and its people is undeniable. Seeking an LL.M. is just one more step she is happy to take to further help her country and its people. With the aid of the knowledge, experience, and tools she develops at Maryland Carey Law, this young leader is well equipped to achieve great things back home.

More information about Maryland Carey Law’s LL.M. program can be found here.

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