Catherine has a JD from Stanford Law School and is currently a PhD Candidate in the History Department at Stanford, where she studies human rights movements in the Arab world. Her studies at Stanford are supported by a five-year fellowship, and she has won research awards and scholarships from the American Society of International Law, the law firm Chadbourne and Park, the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation, and the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies. She has an MA in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo where she was awarded a full fellowship for her degree. After law school, Catherine worked as a judicial clerk on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. After graduating from college and being accepted to public policy MA programs (including The Fletcher School), Catherine decided instead to move to Cairo where she worked for a research center and founded a non-governmental organization that provided service-learning programs for American college students in Egypt. She speaks three languages and has worked on human rights and development projects in Afghanistan, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, and Jordan. She is a member of the State Bar of California. In her free time, she likes to explore ancient cities and try out new recipes.
Our Interview with Catherine
What schools did you attend for undergrad and grad school?
I completed my BA in Political Science at Stanford and then an MA in Middle East Studies at the American University in Cairo. I then returned to Stanford where I graduated from law school and am currently pursuing a PhD.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up and currently live in the mid-Atlantic, though a piece of my heart will always be in Cairo.
What was your career like before grad school and what is it like now?
Before graduate school I ran a small non-profit that organized service-learning educational programs for American college students in Egypt. It was fast-paced and intense, but I loved introducing students to a new country with a different language and culture. Now, as a PhD student, I still enjoy teaching but most of my work is independent research. Academic research is exciting in its own way, but it is a more solitary project and requires a different set of skills. I spend most of my time reading, writing, and looking at primary sources.
What influenced you to go to grad school?
Wonderful professors! I was fortunate to have truly inspiring professors who had the skill and knowledge to effect the type of social change I wanted to create. I always knew I wanted to go back to school, but they helped me determine that the combination of a JD and a PhD would best suit my aspirations.
What was the most challenging part of the application process for you?
Applying to graduate school from outside the United States posed several challenges. Preparing for the LSAT from abroad was difficult. I had little access to prep material and had to travel several hours to sit for the exam. I also felt cut off from advice about the admissions process. I knew few other people applying at the same time and felt isolated throughout the application process.
Tell us one of your favorite memories from graduate school.
One of my favorite memories is spending evenings in a coffee shop during 1L year debating tort law. My study group and I wanted to go beyond finding the ‘economically efficient’ amount of investment to prevent accidents to really understand the ways tort policy can reflect and shape society’s values. Because of the interest sparked by these conversations, I later took a course focused just on tort policy that ended up being one of my favorite classes in law school.
How long have you been with TAOA and what led you to join the team?
This will be my third year with TAOA. I first joined because I love editing essays and helping friends with their applications. I keep returning because it is so much fun getting to know new clients from all over the world and helping them reach their potential.
Would you say you have any specialties when it comes to client work? If so, what are your specialties?
I particularly enjoy helping clients who are applying to law or policy school, as well as those considering a joint degree. Joint degrees can be incredibly intellectually and professionally rewarding, and I can help clients articulate that in their applications.
What are three things you would want The Art of Applying’s clients and subscribers to know about you?
I loved law school. It’s possible! I have lived in six countries and four American states. I lived and worked abroad for four years in between college and law school.