Monday, February 23, 2015

A trip home.

When you're at BYU law school, you get this really cool thing called "placement break" where you get a week off of school. Usually this break is for students to go and interview at difference places for internships in the summer, but since I already have my internship for the summer I decided to go home for the week. 
It was my brother Devin's birthday week, so on Sunday we had birthday cake complete with candles with colored flames.
It's Devin's last birthday home before he leaves on his mission.
Proof that I was actually there.
Ezra and I didn't get the Mickey Shirt memo.
On Monday, we went to Knotts Berry Farm.
& I definitely had my share of burgers during the week. Burger #1—Johnny Rockets

Papa and I ordered the same burger. Named after my mission city, "the Houston."
I met up with my high school friends!
& had burger #2 at Fronks

We went to celebrate Devin's birthday at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour. It's become kind of a family favorite.
I ordered the Ice Cream Nachos (again!).
They sang Devin a birthday song to the tune of Indiana Jones.
& gave him a complimentary Ice Cream Sundae, that went to little Sammy.

He was really excited about the candle and cherry, but definitely more excited about the Sundae.

Little Jesse was recognized by the restaurant for finishing their infamous "pigs trough."

My visit was even more special because Devin got to go through the temple. Newport beach has kind of become our family's temple.
Afterwards, we went to Islands where I got burger #3.

Family, thank you for wonderful week home!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A cause/ Soy Chicana. vol. 3

Law school is rigorous.
At the beginning of last semester, my Contracts Professor asked us the question, "why are you here?" as in, why were we in law school... I remember him saying, "some of you would answer because you want to make good money, and you know, that's great, but I would advise you to find something more...A cause." He went on to tell us that this cause had to be something that tugged at our heart strings, something that got us to school in the morning, something that helped us to persevere even when we were tired of reading cases, when we were tired of submitting draft upon draft of our legal briefs; something that gave us the endurance to go on.

I'm getting a joint-degree JD/MPA.
When I explain that i'll be in school for another three years the age old question follows, "so, what do you want to do with that? What kind of law do you want to practice?"
I usually respond with something like:
I want to use my degrees to help further the educational opportunities for underprivileged urban youth.

I knew from about my sophomore year at BYU that I would go on to do the joint-degree program. It was just one of those no question things. I woke up one day knowing that it was exactly what I needed to do. The "why" behind it, well, that has come over time. It's something that is still evolving, but I think I'm headed in the right direction.

When I was a missionary in Baytown, I was working on my grad school applications. I distinctly remember being at the library working on my personal statement. I was sitting at a computer trying to type up some corrections I had made, when I noticed a little boy sitting to the left of me. This boy was working on a project on the life of Emiliano Zapata, and his mother was trying to help him out by telling him in Spanish what to type on the screen. The only problem was, what he was typing was nowhere near what his mother was telling him.

I remember seeing him and thinking, "man, it's too bad I'm a missionary and I only have a limited time to work on my personal statement, so I can't really help this kid out. As soon as I had this thought, it hit me. I AM A MISSIONARY! I was on a mission to forget myself and help others out.

As you can probably guess, I spent the next two hours helping this kid with his homework. While it would be an amazing story if I could tell you that this mother and son duo were converted, our encounter ended with me handing them a pass along card...

After that experience, I was on fire. I thought my life would be made if I could just be a professional tutor and help kids with their homework.

My first job after coming home from the mission was just that. I worked as an after school teacher for a classroom of fourth graders in a school by my house. It was such a happy experience. I know who I want to help, but I'm not sure exactly what my job will entail. Something tells me that I'm not going to law school and MPA school to become a professional tutor.

I do feel though, that the south is calling my name. The South has the fastest growing population of Hispanics. Also, I recently heard this story and felt this warm sensation in my heart and then a week or so later read this story on Politico, and it just kind of solidified the desire for me. Then last week when I was visiting teaching, my VTee recommended that I watch the movie, Lean on Me, & I fell in love. It has become my favorite. The plight of children searching for a good education just warms my soul.

My cause is the cause of my people, my ancestors, and the blood that flows through my veins. Nothing gets my heart going quite like education.

I have faith that when it comes time to graduate, Heavenly Father will show me exactly what it is that I need to do, whom I should serve, and who it is He would have me be.

The plight for a good education is my cause.

I dress up in raza inspired outfits to inspire me during finals week 

                           I get Mexican hot chocolate frappes at the cocoa bean

I order piñata socks in order to qualify for free shipping.

& I decorate my planner with images that remind me of why I'm even doing this whole law school thing.
(the words on the planner are from this Calle 13 song.)

See my Vol. 1 here
& Vol. 2 here

Saturday, January 31, 2015

January birthdays.

Everyone deserves to have a wonderful birthday, whether you turn 9 or 22! :) My Tía told me a while back that when her grandchildren have birthdays she invites them over for a sleepover at her house. I thought it was such a wonderful tradition, that I decided to invite Jay & Isabelle up for Isabelle's birthday. These little girls are like the little sisters I never had. Our families are very close. 

I loved having them over with me! We went to church, made dinner, had brownies with Neapolitan ice cream, watched El Dorado♥ (per the request of the birthday girl) and The Adventures of Milo and Otis (that was a tough one to get through!). The girls happened to be over during MLK weekend and so on Monday before dropping them off, we stopped at the dollar theatre to watch Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day before dropping them off. They loved our little sleepover weekend so much, that Jay was already making plans for her birthday in July. :) 

It was also Tiana's (T.betti) birthday. Tiana and I have been friends since before my mission. We were in Living Legends together and both ended up serving in Texas! Tiana's parents came up on her birthday and brought her a beautiful cake with 22 candles to complete the magic. I'm really happy T.betti was born. She is one of the sweetest people I know, I'm so happy to call her my roommate.
(As we were exiting the door of the dollar theatre, the girls asked if we could take pictures in a photo booth together. They definitely chose the BFF print, two strips came out and Isabelle said, "here, you keep one and we'll have one." :)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

on grades.

Grades came out yesterday.

Grades have always ben a time of suspense, but law school grades, take that suspense & multiply it by the umpteenth power. The Law School grading system is VERY different from undergrad grades. When I was getting ready to start this summer, I emailed my friend Allison to ask her why she thought law school was so "intense?" Allison and I had taken the LSAT at around the same times, but while I went and left on a mission, Allison started law school at BYU. Allison put the whole thing so perfectly—I'm going to share a portion of her email.

"I'd say the most basic reason for why it's intense or hard is because everyone in your class is used to being the best. Every one of the 140-odd students in your class has always been 'the best,' and most people have built their self-esteem and self-identity around being "the best"—in whatever industry or area of study they come from. When you get all of those really driven, really smart, really committed, type-A, perfectionist personalities together, tell them they are going to be ranked against each other, and put them in a very tight-knit daily environment...and then teach them by even smarter, successful, sometimes intimidating individuals who have done incredible aspirational things with their lives, it gets a little 'intense.'"

I wanted to share a neat experience I had yesterday with scripture study yesterday morning. I was reading in the Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi 17 (this is the chapter where Nephi is commanded to build a ship). I read verse one where Nephi talks about his afflictions and how hard things were, but he starts out verse two saying, "and so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us." This is a stark contrast to Laman & Lemuel's thoughts about their eight year trip in the wilderness. In verse 21 they complain, "Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy."

I reflected on these verses and thought, "I'm going to have a Nephi attitude about my grades, no matter what they are!" I have NEVER had a happier semester of school, & I know it's because I resolved to live a balanced life (I talked about that here). I was sitting in Civil Procedure (my favorite class this semester—I'm a lover of rules) when Rebekah-Anne shared a devotional related on grades using the exact same chapter! Heavenly Father, he just inspires us to read exactly what we need to!

I really did feel calm and collected about the whole thing (which is not something I can say about all my classmates). In fact, yesterday morning my writing TA asked me, "Are you ready for today? How are you feeling?" I got really confused and had a slight panic attack thinking I had forgotten some crucial event for the Trial Ad competition I'm competing in. I asked him, "for what?" kind of apprehensive about the response... "For grades," he answered, "Wow, you really don't care, do you?"

I wouldn't say that I didn't care. I just figured 1) I did my best, and 2) Heavenly Father has a purpose for me. Whatever my grades turned out to be, Heavenly Father would take my best, weave it into the details of my life, and make it possible for me to accomplish the things he would have me do.

With that being said, I did well—really well. It wasn't a surprising shock, but it also wasn't like I had known these were going to be my grades. I just kept having that collected calm sensation that the Holy Ghost supplied me with. I won't disclose my exact grades, but I will say that my overall GPA for the semester was in the range of "excellent."

I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't share my grades or ask anyone else about there's. Pride cometh before the fall, you know?

At the end of the day, I attended the J. Reuben Clark Law Society annual fireside at the conference center. Elder Holland was there. :) I was 30 min late because of a bad car crash on the freeway, so I didn't hear much from the speaker. I just loved absorbing the feeling of being there, surrounded by amazingly intelligent individuals and my classmates who have become like family in the very same place where we hear modern day living prophets give us words of loving guidance and counsel.

My blessings are great indeed.

Me, Anna, and Paul in an elevator after the event last night. I joked with Anna and said, "you look like you could be our child!" you know, because of how small she is? & she said, "Lauren, you're brown! I would have come out with more color."