So apparently when I was 8 years old I said “when I grow up I want to be a lawyer.” Who planted this seed of information in my mind is still unknown to me. But, nonetheless I have some how managed to pursue the path to a legal career. May 2013 I will have completed my law degree and within a few short months from then I will be a licensed attorney ready to practice. And my dream will have become a reality.
BUT is that all there is to it? Is it really just about picking something because it sounds good. I know my reason for wanting to be a lawyer as an 8 year old girl is not the same reason why I want to be a lawyer today. I wanted to be a lawyer back then because I talked alot, and someone told me people that talk alot become lawyers. Reality is that MOST Lawyers actually do more reading, writing, and quiet thinking than anything else…sad but true.
Most family members, friends of my parents, and others that know me as an Ethiopian American Girl ask “OH So you want to be an immigration lawyer?” My answer to that question is NO. Although I am the daughter of immigrant parents, and have family members that deal with immigration issues on a regular basis, I have no real passion for that subject area. (I support the immigration laws that allow for a path to legal residency for immigrants that may have entered here illegally and need a path to legal residency because they are productive citizens in society, But do I want to litigate in this area…not exactly). (maybe one day my mind will change).
The common misconception is that the children of immigrants who become lawyers want to specialize in immigration law. Well I’m here to clear the common misconception, NO not interested thanks for asking. I see how one would think that was the case though. I’m so immersed in my culture, i love being Ethiopian and helping Ethiopian people. BUT, I want to work to improve health care systems, improve the education system here in the United States, help reduce the number of people that are arrested and prosecuted unjustly, defend the defenseless, reduce poverty, increase opportunities, address the issues that most people ignore. I want to address issues that not only affect immigrants but issues that affect all residents and citizens of the United States.
That’s my reality.
Another Reality is that growing up we (Ethiopian Americans) are constantly fed the idea that we should become a Doctor, a Lawyer, or an Engineer. Those were the only three careers we were really actively encouraged to pursue. Well, I tried all three before I decided what I REALLY WANTED TO do was be a lawyer. I finally chose the path to a legal career not because my family suggested it to me, I ultimately became passionate in the area upon my own experiences and exposure while in the NAACP at the University of Maryland College Park (TERPS !!!). BUT, my original plan upon entering undergrad was to go into the engineering program. Then i decided I wanted to be a doctor, and embarked on the world of biology, chemistry, physics, genetics (YES ALL OF THE ABOVE). THEN I realized- I”M JUST NOT THAT INTO THIS! So i took a step back, majored in psychology, worked for a year, and prayed. Then i realized all I really want to do is go to law school- So I did. Not because someone told me to , but because that was the right thing for me to do.
I think Ethiopian American parents need to do a better job at encouraging their children to study and pursue careers in subject areas that the children are interested in. Yes, I just so happened to choose a career that was suggested to me, but ultimately i chose it because I actually WANTED to. Parents- Encourage your kids to study whatever they want. If your child wants to study art history, and become an art historian: Encourage him/her to do that and be the best art historian that ever existed. Don’t put shame on them for choosing a subject area that you may be unfamiliar with. Ultimately, money does not buy happiness. You have to pursue a career that will make you happy, only then will your child be successful.
Ethiopian American Children- Do what makes you happy and be the best at it. Don’t let all the chatter within the community influence you one way or another, follow your heart, pray, and work hard.