Friday, December 3, 2010

Why I Do What I Do

If you want to learn more about why I am in law school, check out this essay that I recently wrote for an application for a scholarship offered by the Jesuit community at my school.

"In the United States and across the globe, there is an astounding disparity between the rich and the poor. This disparity affects all aspects of life, especially access to justice. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am convinced that every human being is created in God’s image and is immeasurably valuable. The legal profession beckons me to steer my career path toward money, prestige, success, and other entitlements. However, I long to model my career path after my hero and savior, Jesus Christ, who knew the truth about the value of the human soul and gave up all of his entitlements to serve the world. As an attorney, it is my desire, and my joy, to give up the usual notion of success in pursuit of truly serving others by providing legal services to individuals who have historically been denied access to justice. Allow me to highlight a few milestones that illustrate concrete ways that I have positively realized this vision for my life.

High school trip to Brazil, where it all began at an incredible little center that ministers to street children.
But, that's another story for another time.

Two years into my college education, I spent a summer in Sierra Leone, West Africa. I lived with a Sierra Leonean family in the country’s capital for seven weeks while volunteering as an intern with the all African staff of the Evangelical Fellowship of Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leoneans I lived and worked with generously taught me their culture and took me along on various trips to different parts of the country where I experienced life in West African villages. I had taken many classes at USC related to poverty and the developing world. My summer in Sierra Leone took my education out of the classroom and into real life as I interacted with the complexities of poverty, war, disease, malnutrition, and development through the eyes of the Sierra Leoneans that I befriended. The experience was truly life changing.

At the end of college, I decided to join Teach for America to continue in my pursuit of social justice. As a middle school Science teacher, I learned about the educational inequality plaguing cities across the United States. By the end of the year, I was well aware of the need for quality teachers in urban and rural communities, but I was also deeply aware of the need for broader societal change. I began to seriously consider studying law.

I joined AmeriCorps to work at an after-school program for homeless children in Los Angeles’ skid row. This job further equipped me for a career in public interest law by exposing me to the myriad social issues that affected my students’ families. I also learned a lot about the difficulties of service professions. I interacted daily with children who had severe behavioral issues and adults with drug addictions and mental health problems. Walking the filthy streets of skid row, avoiding cockroaches and rats was a part of my work day. These conditions stripped public interest law of any glorified ideas of bringing sweeping change to a community. I am well aware that working as a public interest attorney is difficult work. However, my job was also sprinkled with daily reminders of the importance and impact of this work. I remember a mom’s appreciative hug for my investment in her child’s academic and spiritual life. I enjoyed frequent conversations with various individuals living on the streets as I walked to and from my car. Most of all, I was encouraged by my conviction that God cared deeply about the work that I was doing and that He was working alongside me for social change.

It is an incredible privilege to be in the process of earning my JD from Loyola Law School. I have enjoyed applying my growing legal skills to public interest law. I volunteered as a summer law clerk with Public Counsel’s Adoptions Project. For the first time, I was able to combine my legal education with my passion for social justice as I represented parents adopting children out of the foster care system. I am currently enrolled in Loyola’s Youth Justice Education Clinic where I advocate for three clients’ special education needs.

My belief in the intrinsic worth of every individual leads me to conclude that the lack of legal services among those who have been historically marginalized by society is a tragedy. My Christian faith has called me to a career in public interest law and a life of serving valuable individuals who lack access to justice."

THE END! Thanks for making it to the end and learning more about why I do what I do.


  1. Eloquent and inspiring. I love it.

  2. Awww Christie this is beautiful =) They should feature your story in your school newspaper!

  3. Love it Christie. Encouraging, convicting, and beautiful. I am so thankful to be able to read in one essay how you have allowed God to really be the center in defining your career path.

  4. Cool, Christie! So neat to read this. And how awesome that you have that pic from high school!

  5. Well said! It's nice you have this to look back on during the rough days.


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