*the title of this blog post was inspired by Europe’s song The Final Countdown, which taunted our DukeEngage team last month as we dramatically failed to break out of an escape room*
As DukeEngage-Miami comes to a close, I’ve been trying to reflect on the past two months. I went into this program with no expectations whatsoever. I’m still finding it difficult to put the entire experience into perspective, but this is what I’ve gathered thus far:
Lawyers work insane hours and, if you’re not a trial lawyer, most of that time is spent on paperwork. If you’re in the public service sector, your job is much more rewarding but your salary — less so. When you’re thousands of dollars in debt for a law degree — which by the way is a grueling three years, for even those who love it — transferring out of the field is hardly an option. Law school is not a path for the undecided. In all, I’ve learned a great deal about what I don’t want. I’m not ready to commit to a career yet, so I’d like to keep my options open.
Thanks to Duke’s stellar financial aid, my past two summers were spent in Italy and Australia — two countries very distinct from the U.S. Prior to arriving here, I heard how culturally rich and distinct Miami was from the rest of the country. However, I was underwhelmed by the differences between my hometown and Miami. Aside from brief trips to Little Havana and Little Haiti, I felt very disconnected from greater Miami. As a non-Spanish speaker residing in Coral Gables, my exposure was limited. Spending hours behind a computer screen didn’t help that process, either.
While my peers are diverse in their studies and backgrounds, they’re all extremely dedicated and passionate. They bring fresh perspectives into every conversation. Class year, major, and extracurricular involvement typically determine who I spend most of my time with on campus, but with Duke summer programs I’ve been able to branch out and learn from others. I’ve met some amazing people who will, no doubt, go on to do great things. I’m thankful for our many group bonding experiences this summer; on that note, game nights are a very underrated activity.
I’ve decided against a career in law, but I’ve loved working with everyone at Dade Legal Aid. They always did their best to expose us to different aspects of the organization. Our supervisors prioritized our visits to court — hoping to encourage us to become lawyers — and never hesitated to answer our questions. Moreover, their commitment to the organization’s mission is inspiring. I commend their efforts and want to find my niche just as they have. I can’t say I’ve found my calling this summer, but I’ve come a littler closer to figuring out what I want out of life.