Sidra Vitale (Class of 2007)
When I was seventeen, my grandfather told me I'd go into public service. You have to help, he told me, because you can. You have to protect people.
He was right. It just took me a while to make it my vocation, by deciding to go into law. I've always wanted to help, whether it's reading for the blind, teaching, or serving as an election inspector for my precinct on Election Day.
But law school has swung open the door to let me really do some good. During my second year, my participation in the Environmental Advocacy Project gave me the opportunity to help two marginalized neighborhoods strengthen their legal cases -- and their calls to political action. One neighborhood's children are living and breathing the aftermath of the collision between parks, playgrounds and homes, and industrial development, chemicals, and spilled oil. The other, a minority community just trying to make state and local authorities keep promises made long ago.
Much of my work during law school has been environmentally oriented, and I would not have it any other way. I volunteered for the American Wind Energy Association the summer of 2006, researching the energy needs of different states, and targeting areas where wind can help replace dependency on oil and natural gas. This last year, I have interned with the Environmental Protection Division of the Attorney General's office through the school's Administrative Law Clinic -- working on problems from pesticide misuse, to poisoning of children with lead paint, to carbon emissions and global warming.
One of the accomplishments I'm most proud of is partnering with the Center for Law and Social Responsibility to host a screening and discussion of the global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth", here at the school, to educate and inform the student body on such a critical topic.
I view environmental problems as among the greatest challenges facing all of us today, and I can't resist a challenge, or a chance to stand up for those with no voice of their own, or who lack the know-how to make their voices heard.I am looking forward to continuing my 'regular' volunteerism: reading for the blind, and serving on Election Day. I have taken emergency response training from FEMA and joined the Boston Medical Reserve, so I can better help out my neighborhood in the event of an emergency. But what I am looking forward to the most as I leave law school, is tackling complex problems, especially environmental ones, head on. Because you have to help. You have to protect people. Because you can.