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Goddess mug shot The Goddess Speaks

Sylvia Wang

Tuesday, August 3, 2004


2 negatives help her
find the right path


Many terms are used to urge us to face adversity: "Make lemonade."

"Brush your shoulders off."

"Try, try again."

When you're stuck in a situation that seems hopeless, you cannot help but come up with ways to make the situation better. My current circumstances: a fresh graduate from one of the nation's best academic institutions, with a degree from one of the most lauded business schools around -- yet all I have to show for it is a mediocre GPA and a plethora of less than stellar part-time jobs.

It is a stunning blow to the ego, and not undeserved. My undergraduate career -- a hazy four years of socializing, occasionally interrupted by midterms, finals and the occasional class lecture -- has caught up to me. So here I am on a self-induced summer vacation because I have no solid job offers.

Adverse situation No. 1

I hardly view the outcome of my college life as a tragedy. On the contrary, I believe my life's calling is far from corporate America, which certainly has no place for someone who averaged C's in every business class. Those executives would likely prefer employing a monkey to do their taxes than me. And I can't blame them.

Despite pushing my grades into their pitiful downward spiral, my disinterest has opened other options: With my free time I can travel, learn to cook, write a novel or anything else on past New Year's resolutions lists. So I've made a decision: I'm going to law school.

My friends have agreed that this is the best course of action, especially because I am rather picky about details. Even better, my parents have agreed that pursuing a law degree has a higher chance of success than receiving a job offer from a Fortune 500 company. But while it's always nice to hear myself say, "I'm going to be an attorney," an unanswerable question has begun to surface: What kind of law am I going to practice?

Adverse situation No. 2

It's a valid question because law encompasses many fields. And as I ponder my career paths, while waiting anxiously for any signs of life from prospective law schools, I've begun reminiscing about my undergraduate experiences in hope of reaching an epiphany. Perhaps I can draw inspiration from a certain situation, something that would clarify my true calling.

I remember a phone conversation with a friend, Cheryl, a little more than a year ago. We had been close, but after our junior year her behavior become erratic: She missed classes and tests, and ended up failing a few courses. On random occasions she would call to complain about how her new boyfriend was emotionally and mentally abusive. Eventually, it escalated to physical abuse.

She had no visible scars, and the police would not help her due to this lack of evidence. She needed to be bruised, cut or worse. A study of domestic-abuse statistics showed that only 17 states kept data on reported offenses, yet these were limited to instances of rape, murder and serious bodily injury. These findings beg the question, What happens to women without scars? Where do they seek help?

It is appalling what some women must suffer in silence, or to know that someone close to you is part of that statistic.

I have not spoken to Cheryl since, and neither has anyone else I know. But I will use her experience as a basis for my work: I believe there needs to be representation for women who suffer the emotional trauma of domestic violence, and not necessarily the physical aspects. They deserve as much attention as any other battery victim, for to deny them justice would only feed the problem, not curb it.

In the end, my decision to become a lawyer draws on two negatives: my pathetic business school grades and my friend's tragic experience. And while two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, no one ever said two wrongs can't make things better.

Lemonade, indeed.


Sylvia Wang is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California.



The Goddess Speaks is a feature column by and
about women. If you have something to say, write
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