Center for Psychological Studies & Shepard Broad Law Center
Lending a Helping Hand Around the World
Elaine Papas, M.S., J.D., arrived in New York City on September 10, 2001, ready to start work as an international affairs lawyer. The next morning, she woke up to a different world.
Others might have run home. But Papas, with law and psychology degrees from Nova Southeastern University, immediately turned her attention to helping others.
“None of us knew what was coming next. It was surreal,” said Papas, who first offered counseling services for those in the area, then helped “wherever necessary,” as the city started healing.
Now president of NSU’s Manhattan Alumni Chapter, she continues to roll with the punches and use her strengths wherever they are needed.
Papas traveled the United States after high school. “I fell in love with South Florida,” she said. She easily settled into the Florida lifestyle and started her own business, an international import and export company.
“It became very successful,” she said. “I had it for 11 years. When you are in your 20s, you think you know everything and can do everything. It’s a good thing,” she said, recalling the energy and enthusiasm she brought to her early business.
After landing contracts with Disney and Continental Airlines, though, she realized she wanted more. So, Papas went back to college, well after her contemporaries had graduated.
A degree in liberal arts from Barry University was followed by three more: a master’s in psychology from NSU (1994), a master’s in human resources from St. Thomas University (1995), and a law degree from NSU (2000). She also holds from Pepperdine University a certificate in cross-cultural dispute resolution – a valuable qualification for this attorney whose business takes her around the world. “The world is trying to unite while trying to retain individual personalities and cultures,” Papas said.
It was her desire to work in international business that led her to New York City. She has since worked with star clients, such as Donald Trump, to create their new companies. She also assists those eager to get into rising countries, such as Dubai, and works with governments and established entities in their international growth.
“A lawyer is an advocate,” she said. “It feels so good to help people. It’s better than winning the lottery.