University of Pittsburgh School of Law alumna Dr. Fatima Waziri-Azi (JD ’11) has been named the 2022 recipient of the Sheth International Young Alumni Achievement Award. The Sheth International Young Alumni Achievement Award acknowledges a University of Pittsburgh alumnus who entered Pitt on a student visa, earned a degree in the last fifteen years, and contributed to the international community through professional achievement.
Since graduating from Pitt Law, Waziri-Azi’s work in her home country of Nigeria has been dedicated to safeguarding the human rights of the marginalized, especially women and girls, and advocating for disadvantaged urban poor and rural communities in Nigeria by undertaking sustainable institutional reforms focused on people-centered access to justice.
“Dr. Waziri-Azi has had a remarkable impact in her work as Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons in Nigeria,” said Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg University Professor and Academic Director, Center for International Legal Education, Ronald A. Brand. “As she demonstrated during her SJD studies, she is intelligent, dedicated, and not afraid of taking on difficult tasks.”
In part, Waziri-Azi was drawn to Pitt Law because of Professor Emeritus of Law John Burkoff’s expertise in criminal justice and legal ethics. Working with him, she wrote a dissertation on strengthening anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria, her home country. In 2011, she became the first to defend her doctoral dissertation in Pitt’s then-newly established Doctor of Juridical Science Program. But the warmth and respect she felt during that first meeting also influenced her decision to choose Pitt.
“Frankly, I can’t imagine finding another young Pitt alumna whose recent contributions to the international community through her professional achievements and whose impact on her community and nation are more impressive than those of Fatima Waziri-Azi. I couldn’t be prouder of her or more impressed with the work she has been doing since she received her degree from Pitt Law School. Not only is she an amazing person, but she is, not incidentally, brave as well. As she wrote in an email in early January, “Please always remember me in your prayers, human trafficking is second in transnational organized crime and the third largest criminal enterprise globally. I am fighting some very dangerous people.” I’m not only proud of her and admire her, but I pray for her as well,” writes Professor Emeritus Burkoff.
Each year the University of Pittsburgh recognizes faculty members and young alumni for their contributions worldwide. These prestigious awards would not exist without the support of Dr. Jagdish N. Sheth, Mrs. Madhu Sheth, the Sheth Family Foundation, and their ongoing generosity and commitment to global education.
The Sheth International Achievement Awards will be presented at a ceremony from 3:30-5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in the William Pitt Union Lower Lounge. To attend this free, public, in-person event, register here.