Yesterday, I had the honor and pleasure of speaking at Vanderbilt School of Law.
I gotta admit: I do enjoy speaking to law students, more so than bar associations or at law conferences, because I believe there’s more opportunity to help them see how the deluge of legal briefs they’re reading help shape our country for better and for worse, how even laws with the best of intentions can harm the marginalized, and how they can be intentional about recognizing that.
While being asked questions from the IP department’s chair, he said “You should have an honorary degree by now!” after I answered using the latin phrasing for the procedures I faced. I jokingly suggested that Vanderbilt could be the first to give me one, then we moved on.
At the end, a group of 3 Asian American 1L students came up to me and told me that they’d been following my case since they were in junior high, that they teared up several times in the talk, and went to law school in part because of my activism. They wanted to change the world for their communities like I had for theirs, when they saw someone willing to fight for them. It was extremely moving and I started getting watery eyes myself.
I know I had countless organizations and wonderful people supporting the case along the way, but I often felt isolated, depressed, and broken during the process (especially when misinformation, assumptions, and rumors spread). As the bills started piling up, I wanted to give up so many times. I couldn’t express enough to the students how much those words meant to me – to be seen. I guess in a way, that’s what I had been fighting for all along.