Law alumnus' story drives him toward serving justice

April 28, 2022

Headshot of Thai Chhay

Few understand the risks of not standing up for humanitarian issues more than Thai Chhay JD ’18, whose experiences as a refugee, military veteran and family’s survival of genocide shaped his journey to becoming an attorney in the newly formed Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) in Connecticut.

“I was born in the middle of the jungle. My family miraculously found a United Nations refugee camp and came to America in 1980,” said Chhay. “My experience as a refugee from Cambodia has taught me that justice and humanitarianism should be universal concerns, perhaps the greatest values, in any society.”

Chhay decided to attend Quinnipiac’s School of Law after transitioning out of the military in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Having earned the Dean's Fellows Scholarship, Chhay dove deeper into the meaning of law and the core foundation upon which it rests. He then used his knowledge to serve as a deputy assistant state’s attorney and as an assistant attorney general for Connecticut.

“My experiences in the military taught me a lot about the nexus between rule of law and instability and violence in the world. I deployed to Iraq in 2010 and saw how instability and extremism can shape a society and culture,” said Chhay. “I believe there are only two great forces in the world — family and war.  Since then, I have seen that America, like any other society, is also susceptible to the forces of instability and extremism. I believe that rule of law with a focus on family and universal humanitarian law might be the only way to counter it.”

Chhay said that Quinnipiac’s School of Law prepared him with the written and oral skills an attorney needs to be successful and a solid understanding of the interpersonal skills that are essential in his chosen profession.

“I know I am using my education and my broad life experience to address fundamental societal and constitutional concerns in America. I hope one day to use my education to leave a lasting impact on culture and society,” he said.

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