More Than Just an Engineer, I am a Big Kid Now!

by ursavoice

Harnik Shukla

J.D. Candidate, 2012, UCI Law


    In a recent Social Justice Thursdays lecture, Professor Chacon said that her law school classmates had a significant impact on her life. Reflecting on her statement, I realized how much my law school classmates have helped me grow over the last three years.

     Some of my closest friends in law school are women, and I have learned a lot from them over the last three years. Recently, after watching a TV episode, my roommates declared, “All guys are idiots.” I didn’t have much of a comeback because it was probably true. Thankfully, women have a great capacity for forgiveness. For example, Katie allows me to hit five “mean” shots every time we play tennis. Naturally, I tried exporting this rule outside of tennis. I asked Jessica if I could get away with saying five mean things per day. All I can say is that I am really lucky she is still my friend. They are also supportive and caring. I cannot imagine surviving the first semester of law school without Jean or Christina. Before I learned how to take care of myself, Jean made sure that I was eating more than just soup. And I could always count on Christina to be there, like the time she picked me up after my best friend left me stranded at Fashion Island. I also admire their strength and hard work. Yimeng is the epitome of perseverance, raising her young daughter concurrently with law school. The women in my class are my role models, and I am a better person because of their friendship.

     The most important impact in my life, however, is because of Ruby*, Adam, Jenny, and Sam. Before law school, I did not have any gay or lesbian friends. Like most kids in high school, I must have used the phrase “that’s so gay” several times a day without thinking much about it. In college, as with most other issues, I was generally indifferent. Then through a series of serendipitous circumstances or destiny, I ended up here at UCI Law (I know my law school experience would have been very different elsewhere). When I first met my gay and lesbian classmates, I thought they were really cool. They quickly became a big part of my life and are now some of my favorite people in law school. I did not even realize their impact on my views until last year. I was driving with Ruby in Mississippi for the winter break pro bono project. We were both really tired, and I could not find a good radio station. Frustrated, I said something along the lines of, “All these stations are so gay.” I might have not thought much about what I had said if this had happened before law school or in front of someone else. But I had changed, and I realized this because I was embarrassed and disappointed that I had hurt my friend. Ruby was kind enough to forgive me, and I have since made it my responsibility to stop anyone else from using that phrase. I cannot be indifferent anymore when the two people that I absolutely adore are hoping to officially marry next year. If it were up to a vote, I would be the first one to line up and then ICE would probably deport me for voting.

     Thus, three years with my classmates and I am more than just an engineer.


*Name has been changed to respect privacy