Marbury v. Madison, take 37

9 12 2013

Three finals down, two to go. If only all of our finals could be as much fun as our law final. I’m going to miss this class. Szypszak told us at the beginning of the semester to trust him. He had a plan and he knew where he wanted to take us. Class discussions might not seem relevant, but don’t tune out, he said. It’s all part of the Socratic process. “I know where we’re going.” The last day of class, we watched High Noon and sure enough, Chuck brought us full circle, back to practicing virtue by way of being just and honest, as per Aristotle, especially in our relationships.

“If you can’t be an honest lawyer, just be honest.” – Abraham Lincoln

When Szypszak walked into class the first day with his military crewcut and sparse, two-page syllabus, he intimidated us. It was clear he was going to expect the same level of focus and self-discipline from us that he did from himself.


Charles Szypszak, UNC School of Government

He told us if we liked analysis and that style of thinking, we’d like this class, and that process would come more easily to some than it did to others. I never did better than average on our assignments but my analytical baseline might have been lower to start. Truly, I was happy for every “P” I got in that class knowing how much effort it took for me to deconstruct cases. I’m better at it now than I was to start.

These last three weeks reviewing with Micah, Andrew, and Maria have been fun. (Ask me about the Lemon test, go ahead. Where in the Constitution is a right to privacy stated?) I learned so much from my classmates and our discussions and most of all, from Szypszak’s deliberate selection of these cases to careful guidance of our discussions to tease out the most salient points. I learned a lot. It’s fulfilling to go over Marbury v. Madison now for the 37th time and grasp Justice Marshall’s brilliance at creating judicial review. I understand better what our constitutional freedoms are, how they’ve evolved, and what it looks like when they are being breached.

law book
With more knowledge of our judicial history, I’m optimistic too, however banal that sounds. Once, our courts upheld racial segregation and sterilization of the mentally disabled. So too, very soon I hope, Amendment One will be an anachronism.

Most of all, Charles Szypszak equipped me with a new way of thinking, of analyzing information, teasing out the logic, questioning its application, and trying to understand from what viewpoint another is making a decision.

I’ll probably get a “P” on his final too, but it will still have been way more enjoyable than these next two finals. On-on.

Law for Public Administrators

6 09 2013

oh my god, i passed! this is the most exciting 80 i’ve ever gotten in my life. 

Law for Public Administrators is kicking my butt. Professor Szypszak intimidates the hell out of me. i’m pretty sure he gave me credit for my imprecise reply for “what does penumbra refer to regarding Griswold v. Connecticut,” but i don’t care. 

this is the densest material i’ve read in a long time, and i’m happy to be above water.

next quiz, 100.    

i don’t like change.

9 04 2013

leaving north carolina was difficult. now leaving korea feels the same. i fluctuate between being ready to see friends and family and wondering if i’m making the right decision. the same questions surface.

  • is this the right move? 
  • how can i leave people i care about?
  • have i really given this (place) all i could?

the most difficult part of making a decision is that prior period of indecision.
eddie says the best cure for indecision is to freaking make a decision.

i’ve been on-the-fence about coming back to school this fall and delayed acknowledging until this week.

if i want to live and work overseas again, why enroll in a program that will prepare me for economic development in the US? i think this question is fueled by fear of the unknown.

i don’t know yet what i will want to do after two years in school. it may be community development in a small town like Tarboro, or it may be to move abroad for a year or two again. this program will prepare me for both a career in the US, i reason, and university teaching abroad, if that itch surfaces again.

the truth is i love living overseas. i hope to have the opportunity again.
leaving korea is sad, but i guess it’s best to leave the party early.

so i submitted the UNC acceptance tonight and feel better already for making a decision.

out-of-state tuition is too expensive

18 02 2013

so i did a little recon. US News has a WA school in the top 10 best MPA programs in the country. University of Washington in Seattle has an MPA program ranked #9 by US News. For non-WA residents, the MPA costs ~$64,000. that would be a no go.

duke’s program ranks #16, but the deadline was jan 5, and the cost and competitiveness likely prohibitive.
i looked at Portland State University earlier this year, but see now it’s ranked #46 after UNC. nc state is ranked #53. the MPA@UNC virtual program, at $52K, is toooo d@mn expensive. i can dispense now with applying to UNC-Greensboro and NC Central.

other top programs outside of nc, well, the deadlines have all passed, and idk that i would have been accepted or could have afforded them anyway. so, i can reason now UNC is the best US option for me for pursuing an MPA.

i’ll poke around at some international options and then be able to put this puppy to bed and start planning this year.

going back to school

17 02 2013

huzzah. unc accepted me into their mpa program. i didn’t think i’d get in. maybe grad schools are hurting for tuition.

now i have that buyer’s remorse that always surfaces after getting something i want.
woody allen says it best in Annie Hall:

“i would never want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”

i’m excited! i would like to enjoy the good news before ceding to the eternal self-doubt:

  • is this the best path for me?
  • how can i go back to grad school in nc when i’m enjoying living overseas?
  • wouldn’t it be better to attend a different school for my graduate ed?
  • can i transition this education and US experience into international work farther afoot?

tuition costs are not so bad. unc is ~$20K for the program vs. ~$17K for ncsu, not that ncsu has said “yes”. idk yet how i’ll work to live and go to school full-time. i don’t like the idea of student debt, but unc offered a $4K scholarship this year, which brings costs down to ~$17K.

i wish i made decisions more quickly. i admire people who can be all in and pack up their belongings into a station wagon and follow their true love across the country.

my process is deduction through kvetching.
i weighed international studies vs. mpa, deciding on public admin for the greater emphasis on economic development. lately, i’ve thought mpa vs. tesol, but think pursuing a discipline > pursuing an education degree. i could supplement with a TESOL or CELTA cert down the road to teach overseas. today, i’m wondering about nc vs. out-of-state or out-of-country.  the only in-country option that holds any appeal is being in WA to be near my dad. anywhere else would mean out-of-state tuition and no social network. i want to explore these last two options, WA or overseas, to be able to be content with going back to school at UNC.

for now, i’m excited and grateful.

gender unknown

1 02 2013

the MPA@UNC application embraces the unknown. i love it.


UNC School of Government interview

25 01 2013

i just finished a phone interview with UNC. they work quickly. the application deadline was 1/15. roughly 50% of interviewees are accepted into the MPA program, so i’m no shoo in. but i’m more interested in the MPA program than I was prior to the call.

the interviewers were professional, prepared and gracious. two professors, two students and one graduate hosted. one of the students works part-time as a research assistant at the SoG and part-time at the Triangle J Council of Governments, most recently working in database management. i was glad to hear students have time to sandwich contextual work around their full-time course load. T, W, TH courses leave some time to make a little money the rest of the week. the alumnus said she was about at the same place in her career experience-wise as i am.

i also liked that professor ammons tactfully questioned whether a dual degree made sense. i applied for the MPA / Master of City and Regional Planning, but it might not make sense. three years is a long time to be in school, for age and money one, but also for want of getting this show on the road and doing interesting work.

i’m reenergized this evening about economic development. just like asking students to present what they’ve learned helps them clarify their thoughts, articulating why i want to go to school and work in econdev renewed my mojo.

i can imagine an urban lifestyle for the next two years, learning and working and living like a pauper. it feels fulfilling.