By Jacqueline Leung • January 04, 2017•Writers in Residence, Careers, Law School, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job, Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life
Happy New Year! Welcome to what I hope will be an exciting year as we move forward and say good-bye to the good and bad moments of 2016.
As for me, 2016 was an interesting year. After traveling a twisty road, I graduated with my law degree in May 2016. Through careful deliberation, I made the difficult choice to postpone taking the bar exam until July 2017 as the State Bar will be switching to the Uniform Bar Exam. I applied for many employment opportunities in nonprofits and state and local governments, was rejected by many, and received several interviews. Undeterred, I continued to apply for positions, both those I felt I did not qualify for and those I met some, yet not all qualifications. The hard work paid off. Currently, I am balancing two positions – I am completing a short-term fellowship in public service while working in a one year position as a Community Organizer for a local nonprofit focused on health care outreach.
When I graduated with my J.D., it meant more than just meeting my goal. Graduating law school meant I could be “Mommy” full time again. Since I was no longer a law student, I did not have to arrange before and after care for my oldest or daycare for my youngest. Evening classes from 5:30PM-onwards is a foreign concept. The idea of ‘free time’ was a difficult adjustment. After four years of balancing law school classes, studying, working, and being a mommy, I was used to a certain routine. It took me time to adjust after graduation, yet I found my grove and am happily balancing a flexible work schedule to be the best parent to my children.
Balancing law school as a parent was difficult in and of itself. When I started law school, I was a single parent to a precocious three-year-old. I dealt with the stress of leaving a relationship with years of domestic violence (physical, verbal, emotional, and spiritual abuse). I went to court twice for child custody during my first two years of law school. The experience nearly broke me. I struggled with the stressors triggered from living as a domestic violence survivor. Eventually, I sought help from counseling through and a daily regime at the gym. At my lowest point, I gave up on the idea of ‘dating’ because I felt unworthy. However, when I was least expecting it, I met my partner, who taught me to learn to love again. My partner has been instrumental in showing me what a healthy relationship looks like and has helped me let go much of the trauma from my past. I continue to learn about myself as I continue to heal. By the time I graduated, I was in a committed relationship to two children, a first grader and a one year old.
In late December, life changed once more. My partner and I welcomed a new addition to our family. From a family of four (2 adults, 2 children), we are now a family of five. This is a new beginning and experience and while I am sleep deprived as I write this post, I would not have it any other way.
As 2017 begins, I look forward to what it brings: learning to be a parent to three children between the ages of newborn to elementary school age, preparing for the bar exam starting NOW, returning to work (eventually), continuing to volunteer as a board of director with several non-profits, startup my nonprofit law firm, continuing the elusive job search, and debating whether I want to return to school in 2018 for a PhD in Health Policy.