I have written about my law school journey a number of times on this blog – how I was diagnosed with endometriosis, a chronic reproductive health condition in my 1L year, and the havoc it has wreaked on my law school journey ever since. I had plans to return to campus this fall – I even wrote about my excitement here on Impact. But less than a week into commuting to campus I came home one day and my back and pelvis muscles and gone into a full spasm from driving. I was diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction – a condition that affects your pelvic nerves and muscles which is common among endometriosis patients. Basically, when your body has been in pain for so long, your muscles are constantly bracing for more pain, even when the disease is gone, as mine is. As a result, they clench, or spasm, resulting in pain that can radiate up into your ribcage and down to your knees.
Needless to say, I was not as ready to be back on campus as I had hoped. I reluctantly made the decision to take one more semester off.
If you’ve been following my law school journey here on the BC Law Impact Blog, you know that it hasn’t been an easy one. I was diagnosed with endometriosis – a chronic reproductive health condition that can cause back pain, pelvic pain, fatigue, and infertility among other debilitating symptoms – in my first year of law school. After a failed surgery between my first and second years of law school, and a successful, more intensive one in the winter of 2L, followed by a semester long leave, I am happy to be back on campus.
I spent the spring and the summer doing research for If/When/How on abortion access for teens, watching way too much of the X-Files, and working on my recovery. Getting your life back after a chronic illness sidelines you is a longer, and harder process than I expected, and I’m still working on getting my body and my mind back to where it was before I got sick. In the meantime, I’m taking it slow at school, and reflecting on what I’ve learned in the last few months. Here are some things I’ve learned about myself and law school along the way, and how you can apply them to (hopefully) make your time at BC Law a little easier:
I’m so excited to be hosting a guest blog from 2L Lauren Koster on her public interest experiential learning experience.
For the spring semester of our 1L year, Boston College Law introduced an exciting element of choice: selecting an experiential learning elective to start building the skills it takes to be a lawyer. Some of our classmates opted for a course to practice negotiation or civil litigation. In the course of my choosing, “Leadership, Communication, and Social Justice for the Public Interest Practitioner,” our experiential element was driven entirely by a team project of our own design.
When I started law school, I didn’t think it would go like this. I thought the hardest thing I would have to face would be the workload, and my commute. The only thing I feared was my anxiety taking over, and making it hard for me to get by. I was scared, but excited, at the prospect of three years doing something I had been working so hard and so long to do.
When I started law school I never thought I would miss almost all of my 1L spring to a chronic illness I had only just learned I have. I didn’t think I would have to postpone my finals to accommodate surgery to get better. I couldn’t imagine I would miss almost all of my 2L fall to that same illness, after the first surgery didn’t work. And never, in all my wildest fears did I think I would be taking the spring semester of my 2L year off to have another surgery; my second in less than a year.
But here I am.
On Tuesday night, I lay in bed refreshing the New York Times app and checking Twitter franticly. I voted for Hillary Clinton, and supported her from the first day of the primaries to the last day of the general; in fact I’d hoped that she would be running long before she announced it. When the push notification came into my phone naming Trump as president-elect, I cried.
The results of the election were gutting, for a number of reasons. After a campaign fueled by hatred and fear, Donald Trump’s presidency validated every anxiety I had felt during the general election—that there were more people willing to put the rights of others on the line to salvage their own privilege than there were people willing to work to correct the injustices in this country. We now know that Hillary won the popular vote, and while that is in and of itself reassuring, it does nothing to assuage my concerns about what a Trump presidency will mean for the safety of people of color, women, members of the LGBTQ community, disabled people, Muslims, or immigrants. Almost half the country voted for someone who admitted to sexually assaulting women, who called Mexicans rapists, who promised to ban Muslims, and who mocked a disabled person, and that is a stain on our history that will never come out.
I am thrilled and honored to be hosting this guest blog today from 2L Mousa Al-Mosawy on the impact of this incredibly important election.
My niece, May, is a witty six-year-old girl who just entered the first grade of elementary at the American Community School in Jordan. Even though she lives in the Middle East, May is an American citizen. Usually, I get to see May on Skype or over her summer holiday when she comes to the United States. We talk about everything from her school activities to new Disney releases to questions about my disability and wheelchair. Watching a child grow and communicate, in different ways, is a true wonder. May is curious yet cautious, she opens topics by asking pointed questions and forms an opinion based on the responses. In our last Skype session, my sister, Nour, told me about a conversation she had with May. It went something like this:
In law school, our free time is precious, so how we spend it matters. Wasting time on a show you’re unsure you’ll like is just too risky. Never fear though, because I’m here.
I watch a lot of TV — admittedly too much. Everyone has their vice. Some people like a night out on the town, others treat themselves to a nice bottle of wine and some fancy cheese. I watch TV.
Here are my top suggestions for what to watch, whether you need some comfort, some time away from the law, or some inspiration.
My first year of law school was hard for a number of reasons. I commuted from the North Shore everyday to avoid the debacle of finding an apartment, but this meant a ninety minute trip to school and back every day. To make my 9 am Torts class in the Fall, I would take the commuter rail into the city, and then an hourlong Green Line train ride to Cleveland Circle, where I would either pick up the shuttle or bum a ride from a fellow student heading to campus (thank you Colleen, and thank you Karla, you two saved me).
Imposter syndrome compounded my anxiety and I went from being someone who was hard on herself to someone who was impossible with herself. I was convinced that I wasn’t good enough, that I would fail my finals, and that graduating (or even making it to 2L year) wasn’t a given. I spent most of the year walking the ever-thinning tightrope of telling myself I deserved to be at BC, while not getting so confident that I would slip up and lose focus.
Then my dog died.
It goes without saying that BC Law offers a broad range of challenging classes, taught by wonderful faculty committed to producing lawyers who strive not only to win cases, but to serve their communities as well. And there is no shortage of ways to get your fill of experiential learning here–whether you participate in one of our top rated clinical programs, or are involved in an externship or moot court program, BC Law offers a multitude of ways to learn the law outside of the classroom.
But more and more experiential learning is happening inside the classroom itself.
As a kid I toggled back and forth between lots of answers to “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Lawyer was always on the short list. So was journalism.
I read “All the President’s Men” for an eighth grade book report, and it didn’t take long for me to make Bernstein and Woodward my personal journalism deities. To me, the idea that two reporters could take down a crooked president was (and still is) the epitome of what great journalism can do.