The HLS 300 Project: Vocational Goals

Last year, in advance of the bicentennial, we invited students, staff and faculty to reflect on who we are and what we believe in as a school community.  With a focus on vocation-building, we asked three questions: (1) As we look to the past, who should we admire? (2) As we look to the future, what challenges are important? (3) As we look at the present, what are we being called to do?

We received dozens of submissions of: first, Harvard Law alumni, living and historic, with important legal vocations; second, important public challenges that merit the attention of our generation of lawyers; and third, exciting vocational goals of current Harvard Law students. To spur our collective reflection on who we are and where we want to go as a vocational community, below are submissions in response to the third question, “what are your vocational goals?”:

Vocational Goal #1: Apply advances in information technology and data science to make healthcare more efficient

(Submitted by Hugh McSwain ’18)

Modern healthcare in the US intersects medicine, business and law. I came to HLS to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities available for students who want to pursue entrepreneurship and non-traditional legal careers.

My experiences at HLS—including the Health Law and Policy Clinic, the Entrepreneurship Project, and course work—have expanded my knowledge base and skillset by allowing me to participate in advising local start ups, to advocate for changes within the healthcare system, and to learn from venture capital attorneys and investors.

I am proud to say I am an HLS student, and I fully believe HLS provides me with skills and resources to succeed in health IT/digital health entrepreneurship.

Vocational Goal #2: Protecting at least one child — and hopefully many more.

(Submitted by Ha Ryong Jung ’18)

Recognizing that children have specific rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, I aspire to understand the variety of frameworks used around the world to protect children and to find the most effective combination of these systems to deliver the much-needed protection for this overlooked population.

Child-sensitive measures should exist whenever children come into contact with the justice system, and core principles of the child’s best interest and non-discrimination should be upheld. I hope to contribute to these efforts in working for and with children.

Vocational Goal #3: Using developmental science to more effectively and compassionately respond to and advocate for system-involved youth

(Submitted by Emily Graham ’18)

Neuro- and developmental science research tells us that the brains of young adults continue to develop well into the mid-twenties, indicating that young people are both less culpable and more amenable to rehabilitation than older individuals convicted of crimes. Yet in virtually every jurisdiction in the United States, young people are sentenced to the same harsh mandatory minimums as older individuals.

I want to use these scientific advances to advocate for second chances, whether by promoting “youth discounts” in sentencing among legislatures, by advocating for rehabilitation-centric sentences as a direct representative, or by challenging current practices under the 8th Amendment through strategic litigation.

Vocational Goal #4: Bridging the civil-military divide

(Submitted by George Hageman ’17)

We are all lucky to be at Harvard, and with that privilege comes responsibility. I worry that we, America’s future decision-makers, have lost touch with one group in particular: the military. While we study, other young men and women fight and die on our behalf. Increasingly, the people who send troops into harm’s way have never been there themselves.

Since joining the United States Navy last Memorial Day, I’ve received two salutes: the first from my father, and the second from a homeless veteran. Therein lies the problem: military service is a family business rather than a shared burden, and those who serve are all too often left behind. I want to do my part, however small, to bridge that growing divide and bring us just a little closer together.

Nate Szyman and Pete Davis are members of the Class of 2018 and co-directors of The HLS 200, a campaign of the Third Century Project, an initiative aimed at imagining how Harvard Law can better live out its stated mission of “educating leaders who contribute to the advancement of justice and well-being of society.”

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