Ms. JD

Ms. JD Public Interest Summer Scholarship Winner: Christina Calloway

Ms. JD is pleased to feature our second winner of Ms. JD's Public Interest Summer Scholarship, Christina Calloway.  Here is her winner essay submission:

“You’re getting old. You should get married soon before you are too old to have children.” At 26 years old and finishing my second year of law school, my grandmother said these words to me. Once I processed the words the woman that I love dearly had said to me, I realized that my grandmother and I have very different expectations about the role of a woman and how the career she chooses affects her personal life. My grandmother has lived through 80 years of changes in this country, including the historic election of the first African-American president and having an African-American First Lady, yet she still believes women should be married and actively pursuing a family at my age. I am one generation removed from the idea advanced by men, and sometimes women, that a woman’s role in society is as a wife and mother.

Although I accept the great significance of a woman in this capacity, for the women that have fought for my right to choose to be anything, I refuse to accept the stereotype of a woman as only one thing. My mother represents another generation: progressive, ambitious, and strong. Basically, she could care less about the fact that I am not married and that I have yet to make her a grandmother. My mother is extremely proud of my decision to take a journey that many do not have to courage to pursue. She loves the idea that I will be a part of a group of women that have that courage to become an attorney. The woman who told me those words above raised her and she had followed them. Her “career” expectations were to get married, have children, and have a stable family life and at the age of 21 that is exactly what she achieved. By the age of 26, the same age I am now, my mother was divorced, had two children, and no education past high school. I believe she understood at that age that her daughters would achieve more than she had by being educated beyond high school and she pushed that idea my entire life. In her 30s, my mother followed the tone of her generation, progressive, ambitious, and strong, and pursued higher education. She is the example that propelled my ambitions and dreams, whatever they may be.

My career expectations differ from those of previous generations, even different from those of my mother’s, because I do not want to be one thing. I want it all! I attend a legal institution where the halls are lined with pictures of women who have changed the face of the legal profession and the classrooms are stimulated by women who continue to instruct future attorneys to do the same. I am inspired every day to be the best woman that I can be whether as an African-American, student, future attorney or a future wife and mother. My career expectations are a culmination of each and every battle that women for many generations have had the courage to fight. My career expectations are to pursue every opportunity that is of interest to me and that I am passionate about. I do not have to choose to be one thing or the other because I must fit neatly into the role of what a woman is “supposed” to be. If an opportunity is not available to me, I am of the generation who has the ability to demand a change and this would not be unexpected. My career expectations are different because I am able to explore the things that I am passionate about without feeling that I am on a timetable to be something that a former generation wants me to follow.

I want to become an attorney passionate about the arts and the sanctity of the arts in our culture. I want to be a writer that is able to inspire through my words. As well, I would like to become a wife and a mother one day, on my own terms. Like my grandmother and mother before, I understand the importance of that part of a woman’s role in society; I just have the opportunity to not let it define me. Previous generations were definable and I am inspired by the fact that my career expectations are not defined; my choices are my own to make and are primarily influenced by those who made such choices for themselves in trying times such as Charlotte E. Ray, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, The Honorable Leah Ward Sears, First Lady Michelle Obama, and, most of all, my mother. Their sacrifices (along with many others) have shaped my career expectations to be high beyond measure. Meeting my own expectations based on my standards is what makes my career expectations different from previous generations. I realize the only way to break the stereotypes is to change the ability of society to classify me in only one dimension. At 26 years old, my 81-year-old grandmother said to me, “you’re getting old. You should get married soon before you are too old to have children.” In that moment, I thought about all that I have accomplished by being a young, African-American law student and all I have yet to accomplish in my life. After processing my grandmother’s words, I replied, “Maybe one day, Grandma, but not today.” I smiled at her knowing where she was coming from and, from that place, where I was going.

Christina Calloway's Biography:

Christina Calloway is currently a rising 3L at Howard University School of Law.  She is currently working at Georgia Lawyers for the Arts in Atlanta, Georgia.  Last summer, Christina worked with the Fulton County Solicitor's Office in the Atlanta Community Court.  At Howard University School of Law, she is an active member of the Intellectual Property Students Association and the Sports and Entertainment Law Students Association serving as the latter organization's representative during her 1L year.  She has also served as the secretary of Epsilon Sigma Iota Sorority, Inc., a prestigious legal sorority dedicated to the advancement and leadership of women in law school and the profession.  In 2008, she was the recipient of the Black Women in Entertainment Law Foundation Scholarship.  She graduated from Georgia Southern University obtaining her B.A. in English (2005) and Masters in Public Administration (2006).

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