Prestigious journal to publish paper by SIA alum Ashton Zylstra '13

- By Ankitha Rajendaran

The prominent peer reviewed journal “Questions of Russian and International Law” has decided to publish research papers by two of the students from the Penn State community. Ashton Zysltra, an alumna of Penn State's School of International Affairs, is one of the students and submitted her paper on the legal aspects of the Arctic Greenpeace incident.

Enthrallment with Russian Law
Originally from Seattle, WA, Zylstra attended Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA, to complete her undergraduate degree. However, her connection to Penn State goes way back. “My Uncle is a professor at Penn State, so I've spent several summers in State College. After graduating from Santa Clara and moving to the east coast, Penn State was a great next stop.”
She chose the Russian Law Seminar to fulfill her second language requirement for the School of International Affairs degree. However, she decided to take the seminar mainly because her academic adviser, Dr. William Butler, was teaching the Russian law class.
When the Arctic Sunrise event took place a couple of weeks into the semester, she could not resist the temptation to dig deeper into the developing case. “The topic was an interesting one because it continued to develop while I was writing the paper,” she said.
According to Professor Butler, “she chose a very challenging topic and did well with it, which is reflected in the fact that it was accepted to be published in a prestigious journal. It is always a pleasure to see the School of International Affairs students take an interest in international law”
Zylstra said her favorite part about Russian Law is the development of law in Russian history and culture. “I had studied some of the course material previously and a lot of the topics we discussed in class were both fresh and interesting, especially thinking about it comparatively” she said. What fascinates Zylstra most about Russian law is its development; she finds the transition to and from Soviet law captivating and the fact that no matter what topic was discussed during the class, one would always end up asking "Why?"
Her experience in Dr. Butler's course, along with other law courses, has stimulated her desire to pursue a degree in law. “I would love to become a politician someday, but for now, my goal is to work as an aide on the Hill or as a policy adviser,” she added.
Penn State law student Jason Samuel, who also submitted his research papers to the Seminar in Russian law has been accepted for publication in the journal as well. While both papers focused on Russian law, Samuel's narrative focused on the Russo American Extradition Treaty.