Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Foti Vito

A strong commitment to assisting his fellow students, a belief in inclusion and a commitment to human rights has earned third-year Faculty of Law student Foti Vito (JD 2024) the University of Toronto's Ludwik & Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize (Emerging Leader).

Established in 1995, the Ludwik & Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize is part of the University of Toronto’s Pinnacle Awards Program, which recognizes exceptional contributions by administrative staff, librarians, faculty members, and students. The Emerging Leader Award is presented to a student or staff member who has consistently made positive and lasting contributions in the areas of scholarship, service to others, and/or action against discrimination. It comes with a $1,500 award.

Vito’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion were apparent during his undergraduate years at Trinity College where, as a member of the Non-Resident Student Affairs Committee, he led student governance reform efforts to eliminate the residence requirement for the Head of College student leadership position, a significant barrier that prevented lower-income students from fully participating in student life.

At the Faculty of Law, Vito serves as a mentor in the First Generation Network, helping students who are the first in their families to attend law school to navigate a new system. His support of peers is renowned, whether that means helping them fill out financial aid forms for attending a conference or creating a list of international legal internships to help make these opportunities more accessible for students.

Vito has also dedicated much of his legal education to pro bono work, assisting low-income and marginalized clients as a caseworker at Downtown Legal Services and the 519 Trans ID Clinic. As a Fellow for the Ontario Justice Education Network, Vito developed legal education workshops for marginalized high school students across Toronto.

His commitment to fostering diversity within the legal profession is further exemplified by his role on the Board of Directors for the Albanian Canadian Lawyers Association, where he leads the organization’s student portfolio and expanded their presence to Quebec and Alberta.

As a student in the International Human Rights Program at the Faculty of Law, Vito contributes to legal clinic projects addressing transnational business and human rights issues. He completed a legal internship at the United Nations in The Hague, where he supported a team of prosecutors in preparing a large investigative dossier on international crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. As a participant in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, his engagement in critical legal research and oral advocacy aims to prevent and reduce statelessness globally.

“Both on a personal level and in bringing his legal expertise to bear, Foti is a strong advocate for human rights, diversity and inclusion,” said Dean and University Professor Jutta Brunnée, James Marshall Tory Dean’s Chair. “His passion and dedication stand out and we are proud to count him among our extraordinary students.”

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Pinnacle Awards Program — Awards of Excellence

The University of Toronto recognizes exceptional contributions made by its administrative staff, faculty members, and librarians through the Pinnacle Awards Program. These awards aim to highlight the significant role of these individuals in supporting the University’s mission to foster an academic community where every member’s learning and scholarship can flourish across the tri-campus.

The Pinnacle Awards Program comprises three distinct awards: the Chancellor’s Leadership Award, the President’s Excellence Award, and the Ludwik & Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize. The awards are aligned with the University’s broader Awards of Excellence Program through a partnership with the Division of University Advancement.