Shelley Cavalieri


I graduated from UVA in May of 2000 with an Echols interdisciplinary degree in bioethics.  During my time at the University, I focused this major by taking a number of chemistry, biology, and physics courses to form the scientific basis of my studies.  I also directed most of my independent research and writing to questions of justice and distribution; my primary area of interest as an undergraduate was equity in access to medical care, particularly as made available to individuals along traditional axes of oppression, including race, gender, and age.  I was fortunate to take many graduate courses and seminars in philosophy, religious studies, law, and epidemiology, and remain appreciative today for the rigor that these courses brought to my undergraduate career.  These experiences prepared me for success in my subsequent graduate work.

Immediately upon graduation I accepted an eighteen-month assignment with Pellegrino della Terra, a small program of the Italian Methodist Church.  In Palermo, Italy, I worked with Nigerian women who had been trafficked into prostitution, providing social services and translation to my clients.  My studies of distributive justice were the best lens I had to analyze the harms that my clients experienced on a daily basis.  I also spent a summer in Thailand, interviewing individuals engaged in service provision for trafficked women and prostitutes; my time in Thailand had a more explicit health-related focus because of the prevalence of HIV infection in southeast Asia.

I began law school at Boalt Hall School of Law (UC Berkeley) in 2003.  During my time there, I have focused primarily on refugee and immigration issues, as well as broader issues of human rights.  To that end, I am currently taking a year's leave of absence during the middle of my third year to move to Guatemala, where I will study changes in land access as caused by land reform, in addition to the impact of access to land on the choices of individuals and families to migrate. Although my work is no longer explicitly health related, issues of distributive justice animate all discussions of public policy-- who has access to which resources is the key question facing any policy wonk.  My bioethics studies continue to shape the way I engage with the world even now.