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Valerie Kelly '84, Assistant attorney general, Arkansas

Civil Engineering

Why I chose civil engineering

I was interested in eventually having a career in politics and public service, and I loved math and science and wanted to use them to solve real-world problems. After graduation, I worked as a civil engineer in the design branch at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Little Rock, Arkansas, for seven years. However, given my initial interest in politics, I never lost my desire to go to law school. In 1994, I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Currently I am an assistant attorney general at the Arkansas Attorney General's Office in Little Rock. In this position I represent the State of Arkansas in cases where a criminal defendant appeals his or her conviction.

Engineering skills help legal profession

I believe that my engineering degree has helped me in my law career. In the legal profession, one must have strong writing skills, be able to think logically, and be detail-oriented. Having majored in engineering at Princeton, I had these skills at the ready when it was time to attend law school. In 2001 I served on the Arkansas Attorney General's Legislative Team and was the primary drafter of comprehensive computer-crime legislation, a task that was greatly helped by my engineering background. Although it has been 20 years since I graduated from Princeton, and I have had one complete career change, I am still glad that I majored in civil engineering. As initially planned, I am pursuing a career in public service, and I've had the opportunity to work as a volunteer in several political campaigns.

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