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EDUCATION CONNECTION

Western law grad fights for the rights of children

By Marites Sison
Special to The Toronto Sun


Tania Delbellbelluz always knew she wanted to make a living by helping people. What she didn't know after graduating from high school, however, was how to go about doing that.
"I wanted to make a difference," says Tania Delbellbelluz, a University of Western Ontario graduate who works at the Children's Aid Society of Durham.


Not wanting to be pigeonholed into a decision she might later regret, Delbellbelluz opted to figure things out by first getting a general arts degree at the University of Western Ontario (UWO), in her hometown of London, Ont.

It's a decision she's glad she made. Along the way, she got interested in sociology, and later, in law.

"Sociology had courses like women and law, juvenile delinquency, and so on. Those were applicable to law," she says. "I decided to go that route. I was always interested in debate and discussion and I also wanted to make a difference."

In 1999, Delbellbelluz graduated with a bachelor of arts in sociology and a bachelor of laws. After graduation she tried her hand at general commercial litigation.

"It was a great place to start," she recalls. "I was in the court room a lot. I handled anything from commercial real estate, to civil litigation. But I wanted to do something else."

This year, she moved to a job where she feels she belongs. As counsel to the Children's Aid Society of Durham (representing the law firm Hartrick and Associates), she is in court nearly every day, fighting for the rights of children and the youth.

"It's a very rewarding job," she says, sitting down for an interview at a cafe in her neighborhood at Queen's Quay, after a hard day's work. "It's also highly stressful and very busy. But I love it."

The job involves working with social workers and families, making sure that children are protected against abuse and neglect.

Delbellbelluz credits the education she got from UWO for her success in shaping the career that she now has.

"I think the most useful aspect of the education that I got was learning how to think in a particular way. Learning how to analyze things," she says. "The hands-on experience I got working as an intern for a law clinic in the university was also very helpful in the litigation process."

She also has fond memories of her professors and classmates in law school.

"The law program was small, about 130 students. It was almost like a high school atmosphere," she recalls. "We all became very close. People weren't competitive; everyone worked together. There was team spirit."

The professors, she adds, "were always very approachable; they attended our social events. They were also willing to work one-on-one with you."

Her relationships with both classmates and professors continue. She says she still hangs out with old classmates even though they have chosen different routes. She still calls some professors for advice.

Asked what she thinks are some distinguishing marks of a UWO grad, Delbellbelluz says, "We're outgoing. We're also eager to help each other out. We venture out confident in what we have learned."

Other distinguished Western alumni include Sheila Copps, Minister of Heritage; James Bartleman, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario; Thalia Assuras, CBS national Washington correspondent for the morning broadcast and primary anchor of the Saturday edition of CBS Evening News, among many others.

Delbellbelluz says her only regret during her university years is that she didn't live in residence. "It would have been a great opportunity to meet more people," she says.

Nonetheless, she says she had an active social life, what with the many organized events and clubs available in which to participate. "Frosh week there is a big event," she says, adding that "there are sports clubs for every imaginable sport."

If you want to go out and party -- the place to be is Richmond Row, Delbellbelluz says. She recommends hanging out at The Ceep, Barney's Patio and Barking Frog.

The campus, covering 155 hectares of land on the north branch of the Thames River, is "beautiful," gushes Delbellbelluz, who advises students to take advantage of the location.

She also advises that students still unsure about what they want to do could try following the route she took by taking general arts courses first.

"Pick out the ones you enjoy and take it from there," she says.

(Marites Sison (msison@rogers.com) is a Toronto-based freelancer)



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