09 Nov

For the second year in a row, this year’s graduation of 250 students at WMU took place remotely via Zoom.

The WMU President, Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, delivered the opening address and the Chancellor of the University, Mr Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, delivered the Graduation Address.

37 students graduated with an LLM in International Maritime Law and Postgraduate Diploma in International Maritime Law. This year, the Worshipful Company of World Traders’ Richard Charvet Prizes went to two highly qualified candidates from Russia and Germany.

Sofia Zarubenko from St Petersburg in Russia was one of the recipients. Sofia is 27 years old and was born in Vladivostok, a large seaport in the Russian Far East. When she was 18 years old, she moved to St. Petersburg, which is also a port city, to read Law.

Apparently, spending her whole life close to the sea determined Sofia’s destiny and she ended up working in the field of maritime law. In 2017, she became a legal adviser in OOO SCF Arctic, part of SCF Group and known to play a significant role in worldwide shipping. SCF Group companies specialise in the transportation of crude oil, petroleum products, and liquefied gas in difficult climatic conditions such as the Arctic. The company also operates in offshore oil and gas production. Sofia now holds the role of senior legal adviser of OOO SCF Arctic, a back office. She and her colleagues perform all types of legal work, from agreeing on the terms of various contracts to conducting court cases.

At the same time as studying at the World Maritime University (WMU), Sofia has applied for a ‘Degree of Candidate’ in Legal Sciences at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (MGIMO University). In the Russian Federation there are two more steps after a Master’s degree: Degree of Candidate of Legal Sciences and a Doctorate of Legal Sciences. The former requires scientific experience in publishing and presenting speeches, passing exams, and writing a thesis. Fortunately, Sofia found a supervisor with considerable experience in maritime law and who has assisted her in this sphere. She is working on a thesis devoted to maritime mortgages in the Russian Federation, England, and South Korea, which she is going to finish soon. 

As a result of historical, economic, and political reasons, there was a period when Russian maritime law did not develop much, however, recently there have been significant developments in the field, including the advancement of the science of maritime law. For this reason, Sofia felt really inspired to apply the knowledge she gained on the LLM Programme from the WMU in association with the Lloyd’s Maritime Academy, both in practice at her work and in further studies. She hopes that her work will have practical benefits.

Sofia’s reaction when she received information about the World Traders award was delight: “I am very surprised and honoured to have been chosen as a Richard Charvet Scholarship holder. I am very grateful to everyone taking part in the selection procedure. I am also thankful to WMU and the Worshipful Company of World Traders for providing graduates with such acknowledgement and financial support. I believe it means a lot to every recipient.

“As for me, I would like to use the proceeds of the prize for my further professional development and education in the sphere of maritime law. I have some short-term plans for which I will apply the funds such as finishing my work on the thesis for a ‘Degree of Candidate of Legal Sciences’ at MGIMO University and enlarging my legal library, especially in English language literature, which is known for its high value. In addition, when the situation permits, I would like to visit WMU in Malmo and spend some time in its library which has a unique collection of books. In the long term, it remains possible that one day I will return to WMU for the PhD programme”. 

The reward in the class of Postgraduate Diploma in International Maritime Law were presented to Silke Muschitz, from Hamburg in Germany.

Silke is 35 years old and started her professional career as a seafarer. After two years as an apprentice studying Nautical Sciences in Bremen, she received her Officer of the Watch Licence and started working on large container vessels for Hapag-Lloyd as a 2nd Officer in 2010. After several years as Second Mate and Chief Officer, she was promoted to Captain in 2018 and received her first command on the Chicago Express.

In 2020, she was asked if she would like to join the shore-side team and ever since, she has held the position of Head of the Marine HR department of Hapag-Lloyd and the Deputy Head of Fleet Management.

Silk’s ambitions to take the PgD course in International Maritime Law were very simple. She felt that there was more to shipping than she had been able to learn as a seafarer and that the essence or the basis of shipping is Maritime Law. To choose WMU as her place for study was rather obvious for her. The WMU is supported and linked to the IMO, the international body supporting and promoting shipping and seafarers. It has a high reputation and she wanted to study in such a surrounding, where shipping and its specialities are known first hand.

This was her reaction when she learned about the World of Traders award:

“I am simply overwhelmed and very thankful to have won the Richard Charvet Scholarship! Many thanks for choosing me! Many thanks also to you and to World Traders for this very special Scholarship! It really means a lot to me, and I feel very honoured that I have been chosen by you. I will further invest in my studies and yet more importantly encourage young women to become a seafarer and / or professional in the shipping business”

Lars Sahlin