Sofia McDaniel

sofia mcdaniel

Even in the middle of a pandemic, ONU Law students are empowered to discover their passions and create their professional identity – all in a place that feels like home, surrounded by faculty who know them by name and care about their successes.

Sofia McDaniel is a great example. In addition to studying for her JD, she has been working on a master’s degree in public health from George Washington University. She transferred to ONU Law after her first year of law school because she was looking for a law school that would support her ambitious concurrent degree plan and provide the academic resources to ensure her success. “I decided to transfer to ONU Law because I was enamored by their commitment to student success, the established history of the law school, the beautiful campus and the small class sizes,” she shares. “ONU Law also has a great faculty profile, with professors from all areas with different professional backgrounds.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, McDaniel has been able to combine her interests in international law, intellectual property and epidemiology, while applying her education to several real-world experiences. Last semester, McDaniel worked on a research project aimed at stopping the spread of polio in Pakistan using international diplomacy. The coronavirus outbreak introduced a new layer to their research as the Taliban began allowing more health workers into the country to aid COVID-19 infected patients, providing an opportunity for polio vaccinations as well. More recently, McDaniel completed research on the topic of strengthening international health regulations in order to better deal with future pandemics. She wrote about this topic for an international law class, and now she has been asked to contribute her research to a textbook on global health security.

Additionally, McDaniel secured a position as a public health legal intern at the Mérieux Foundation, an independent family foundation which helps build infrastructure and laboratories to aid public health initiatives. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the foundation to focus on bolstering testing and supplies for their labs. Throughout her internship, McDaniel was able to apply her legal knowledge of business organizations to review legal contracts and ensure that funds and resources were being used appropriately in the laboratories.

“It’s crazy how many things you can do with a law degree,” McDaniel says. “Science and law are two of man’s greatest pursuits.” McDaniel says she enjoys exploring what is just in her legal studies and what is accurate in her science studies. “It’s such a great intersection,” and she is grateful that ONU Law has allowed her to pursue both passions.