English Major Follows Interests to Dublin, Law School

Kali Peterson taking a break from her Masters and her work with UNICEF on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland
Kali Peterson taking a break from her Masters and her work with UNICEF on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

I’ve always spent my summers in somewhat off-beat ways: wandering around the mountains in Northern Spain, for instance, or tending bar at Yolo County’s oldest drinking establishment.  Next summer will be different.  Next summer I will be doing the job I want to do for the rest of my life: I will be practicing law.

I’ve always had an interest in both English and politics, so after focusing on literature as an undergraduate, I decided to investigate my second passion by pursuing a one-year Masters in Political Science at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland   (where, in fact, the namesake of my own alma mater, Bishop Berkeley, had studied!).  My studies at Trinity College focused mostly on international political systems, and, through my courses and through interacting with my small but very diverse Master’s class, I learned a great deal about how to communicate productively with people of many backgrounds, a lesson I was able to expand upon professionally.

While in Dublin, I had the life-changing experience of working for UNICEF Ireland (the United Nations Children’s Fund) as an intern.  Working to strategize and provide the best possible start for the children in the world community opened my eyes to how much needs to be done in the world, and how much can be done by dedicated, innovative people.  I planned fundraisers, which, due to the Irish love of charity and craic (a term the Irish use to describe a good time) were extremely successful.  I learned how to speak to big corporations about world needs in a way that made clear the urgency of their involvement, and I gained experience organizing and rallying volunteers.

Along the way, I took time to travel, to drink pints of Guinness in ancient pubs, and to visit my ancestral homeland.  It was a beautiful year, and it enabled me to really think about how I wanted to use the skills I had developed at Berkeley and at Trinity in the rest of my life.  Back home in California, I am currently working at the Public Defender’s Office where I help to ensure underrepresented and economically disadvantaged people a fair trial.  I am also in the process of applying to law school.  For some time, law school has seemed to me to offer a perfect combination of my passion for politics and prose, for public service and for the deep analysis of texts.  I am not yet sure whether that will take me in a nonprofit, international, or policy direction; perhaps some hybrid of the three.  In any case, I think it will be an awfully big adventure.