Monday, February 11, 2008

Feeling Grateful

(or "How I Learned to Stop Bitching (so much) About Law School")

A friend just emailed me this story from the New York Times about "Education City" in Qatar. Five American universities have brought their programs and professors to the Middle East, and apparently more are on the way. So far Education City consists of Cornell’s medical school, Virginia Commonwealth University's art and design program, Carnegie Mellon's computer and business programs, Texas A&M's engineering program (petroleum engineer being the largest),; and Georgetown's foreign service school. Northwestern University's journalism program will be added soon. The programs at Education City are not just "affiliated with" with their American universities, they are an actual branch of the school in the Middle East. Professors have moved down to Qatar and the classes are mostly the same. It's become the Ivy League of the region with students enrolling in whichever school they get into, even though different programs will necessitate a complete change in career plans.

It's a great article, and you should go read all of it, but what struck me the most was a section on the second page titled "Opportunities for Women." To quote some of the article: "Education City represents broad opportunities for women, in a nation where many families do not allow their daughters to travel overseas for higher education or to mix casually with men. Cornell stresses, proudly, that it was Qatar’s first coeducational institution of higher learning. The female students are very much aware of their new opportunities... 'I don’t want my father’s money or my husband’s money,' said Maryam al-Ibrahim, a 21-year-old second-year student at Virginia Commonwealth. 'I want to work for a private company and be myself, and I would like to become someone important here.' Mais Taha, a Texas A&M petroleum-engineering student, glows as she talks about her classes, including Reservoir Fluids — hydrocarbons, she explains sweetly — and Drilling."

I may not ever "glow" while talking about constitutional law, but I am grateful for the opportunity to attend law school - and much more than that, I'm grateful that it doesn't often occur to me to be grateful. I may worry about pursuing partnership track as a lawyer with children, but growing up it never occurred to me that I couldn't have the same educational aspirations as the boys in my elementary school class. Lawyer, doctor, and scientist were all realistic answers for the "what do you want to be when you grow up?" question. I'm lucky that when I decided, halfway through my junior year in college, that I felt like going to law school, the only thing standing in my way was the LSAT. I'm going to try to keep that in mind as I slog my way through the 100+ pages I'm behind in con law.


  1. I agree. We should be grateful for the opportunities we have as women in America. I am horrified at some of the stories I read in the news about women who are arrested and strip searched because they sat with an unrelated man in Starbucks. Or women who can't leave the house to go to the doctor without their husband. I can't imagine having to get my husband to sign a permission slip so I could have surgery or leave the country.

  2. On my worst days in school, that thought -- that I was amazingly, unbelievably historically and geographically fortunate just for the opportunity to go to school -- is what kept me going. Even when my mother went to college, it was still expected for women to go into traditionally female professions. We are blessed.

    But the reading and finals? They still bite. :)

  3. I went through a slump last year and I actually remember thinking how lucky I was that I get to read 500 pages a week and pay 25k a year to attend law school. and it made me feel better for an entire week!

    Even in THIS country, not everyone is in the situation to think about or dream about law school- for whatever reasons.

    thanks for the reminder- i'll try to soak up as much education as possible today :)

  4. Thanks for the perspective. I know we definitely take that for granted as Americans.

  5. Thanks so much for the reminder. I've struggled in law school, and thinking about how much other people still need helps. I just linked to your post at Ms. JD--something upbeat to send people into the weekend. Thanks again!