When I was e-mailed an offer for a summer legal intern position with the ACLU of Florida, I accepted within 30 minutes of receiving it. After my parents, the first person I wanted to tell was Professor D’Alemberte. Thrilled to hear this, he said, “This is great news. This may be the best internship around.” Well, Professor D’Alemberte, I am only a couple of days in but I think you were right.
As a rising 3L, I feel fortunate to have spent the last two years at FSU law knowing Sandy D’Alemberte and meeting so many other incredible people through him, including his wife Patsy Palmer. In addition to taking his International Human Rights course, I had the privilege of working closely with him this past semester as my faculty advisor while I wrote a paper about returning Nazi-looted art and valuables to Holocaust survivors and their families. Professor D’Alemberte heavily inspired and influenced my passion for human rights and continues to do so.
He was an absolute powerhouse of a human being with the track record to prove it. An ardent advocate for human rights, his career was permeated with evidence of this passion. Whether it was protesting for stricter gun laws, advocating for criminal justice reform including supporting Amendment 4, or founding the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at FSU, Sandy D’Alemberte was a man who cared about the bigger picture — about leaving the world a better place than when he entered it. As a veteran, politician, lawyer, and humanitarian, he had a unique understanding of what it means to be American and a human being. He saw the value in all human life and the need to defend the civil rights and liberties of every individual. Despite his prolific career and robust list of achievements, he was a humble man who, at the root of it all, genuinely just wanted to help others. And he did.
One of the greatest men I have ever known has left this earth — which leaves a certain kind of heartbreak but also a reminder of how lucky I was to experience his mentorship. He struck me as a once in a lifetime kind of person, someone you are meant to meet for reasons beyond just your immediate understanding. As an intern at the ACLU of Florida, I hope to carry on his legacy and make him proud as I follow our shared passion for human rights. I already see a bit of him in the people I have met here and I know his presence will remain throughout my career and life — signature bowtie and all.
Kathryn Mesa, Intern, J.D. Candidate 2020, Florida State University College of Law