The Other Road: Diala Debbas, From English to Law

Courtesy of Belester Benitez

Courtesy of Belester Benitez

Diala Debbas is a fourth-year Anteater originally from Jordan. She lives in Huntington Beach and will graduate in 10 days with her English major. After a journey spanning two different continents and two possible career paths, Debbas will continue her education by pursuing a career in law.

Belester Benitez: “Why did you choose to be an English major?”

Diala Debbas: “Basically, when I decided that I wanted to do law school, I talked to a counselor. She told me that English is very important because you have to write a lot, you have to speak fluently and you have to argue. So when I talked to her she told me that English would be the best for me, and even though it was hard for me because my first language is Arabic, I decided to get into the English major because I wanted to be better. I wanted to write better and speak better, because I wanted to use that in law school.”

BB: “What is your favorite part of being an English major?”

DD: “Well actually, when I started I did not know exactly how to form a complete argument. And being a fourth-year, especially because I’m getting all A’s now, I think it’s different. When I started I wasn’t like that, I was all over the place but now I can write a fuller, strong argument and strong paper. So I love that about being an English major.”

BB: “When did you decide that you wanted to be a lawyer?”

DD: “When I was at community college. First, I wanted to be a dentist and I worked as a dental assistant for two years. And I didn’t feel like I was in the right place, so when I was at OCC, one of the classes that I took was a business law class and I just fell in love with it and I decided from that moment that I wanted to do law, and specialize in business law.”

BB: “How do you think your English degree can help you with a career in law?”

DD: “I think that I made the right choice when I decided to be an English major because you know, English is the language that people use to communicate, and with this degree you can learn to be a lawyer because lawyers need to write, they need to speak in front of judges, in front of people, they have to learn how the language works, and this is what we learn in English. We have to use the language that we know to form an argument, to form sentences that can help us describe what we want. So I think without being an English major I wouldn’t be able to be a good lawyer.”

BB: “Where do you see yourself five years from now?”

DD: “Well, I already applied to law school and I’m going to start in August. I haven’t made my final decision but it’s either going to be a law school in Orange County or San Diego. In three years, I’ll graduate from law school and probably by the fifth year I’ll be working, and be successful.”

BB: “What are you most excited about as graduation nears?”

DD: “I came to the United States in 2008 and when I came to UCI I really formed good relationships with people, with friends that helped me with my journey through English, and everything in my life. So UCI offered so much for me especially because I did not have connections with people, I did not have so many friends. Through UCI, I met very fantastic people and when I graduate from it, I’m sure I’ll miss it but I think I’m going to start a new chapter in my life, and that’s what I’m excited about. And I think without the help of professors at UCI and my friends I would not be this way.”

BB: “What would you tell people who are afraid to pursue their dreams or their passion?”

DD: “I think they shouldn’t be afraid because I was in a very hard situation. I came here with my family and I was in a different country, different culture, different language. It was very hard to get into a school and learn the language that I did not speak before when I was 17 or 18 years old. So that was very hard. I think people are sometimes in a better situation; they speak English and have very good connections so they should not be afraid of pursuing anything they want. And I believe that if you want to do something you’ll do it, in whatever way it comes, you’ll just do it if you work hard. I think they should not be afraid of pursuing anything.

“It was very hard for me to pursue an English degree, it’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I think that the whole experience of learning something you don’t know or you are not an expert in is a great experience. You don’t want to learn something easy or that you already know. You always want to be open to new things and you want to open your mind to new experiences so you can reach your dream. That’s what I would say.”