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Ugandan Diaspora Inspirational Series | Catherine Nampewo’s Journey From Namagunga, Boston College to US State Attorney

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Posted November 20, 2013 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Education ~ 9,624 views

     

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Here is another story in our new Ugandan Diaspora Inspirational series featuring Catherine Nampewo’s journey from Uganda to America and how she pursued her dream to become Massachusetts State Attorney. 

I was not always certain that I wanted a career in law. When I was younger, I mentioned it as something I wanted to do when I grew up because it seemed like the right thing to say. My classmates either wanted to be a lawyer, doctor, architect, or engineer, and I figured I wanted the same for myself. As I progressed in my student career though, I noticed that I enjoyed subjects like history, economics, philosophy, and literature more than biology, physics and chemistry. I was also drawn to the critical thinking skills that legal training promised and the platform it offered to do different things with my career, like writing policy, advising companies, working in a law firm. The possibilities were endless.

I was born and raised in Uganda, and left December 2006 at 21 years old for the U.S. I went to St. Theresa Namagunga Primary School and later Mt. St. Mary’s Namagunga Secondary School. In 2005, I joined the law program at Makerere University. One and a half years later, however, I left mid-program for the U.S. Having already had a taste of a legal education and found it to my liking, I decided to pursue the same career in the U.S.

Unlike Uganda where the law degree is a bachelor degree, it is a post graduate degree in the U.S. So I received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Eastern Connecticut State University, before joining Boston College Law School. I graduated from law school earlier this year in May, and joined Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, an international law firm based in Boston, Massachusetts

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The most influential people in my life are my parents. They worked hard to ensure my siblings and I received a solid education from childhood, and that we had the resources we needed to succeed in school. Even after moving to the U.S., my parents ensured a smooth transition into a fairly alien culture. When I expressed an interest in law school in the U.S., my dad sought out one of his Ugandan friends, a practicing attorney in Connecticut, so he could talk to me about his experiences. My parents also listened and offered advice to me during the tough times of law school, including some late night phone calls fueled by anxiety over challenges in school.

The biggest challenge I faced in pursuing a legal career in the U.S was adjusting to the differences in legal education between Uganda and America. As a junior law student at Makerere, I was mainly focused on getting good grades and did not have to worry about a job. At Boston College Law School, however, there was more emphasis on preparing oneself strategically from day one for a job after graduation.

Since there is such cutthroat competition for legal jobs in the U.S., I learned early as a law student that I would have to balance several things if I had any hope of being employed after graduation. I would have to get good grades, and try to get onto a law review (i.e., a publication by law students analyzing interesting legal questions) or participate in a moot court competition. I would also have to build a network of relationships by going to events put on by employers in Boston, follow up with people that I met, and perhaps even meet for a coffee. This networking aspect was particularly intimidating for me because it meant that I had to get out my comfort zone.

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I try not to let the fact that I am a recent immigrant from Uganda define what I can or cannot do in this country, and in my legal career. To the extent that it has factored into my career, I have used it to highlight the diversity of experience that I would bring to the table. I would therefore, advise anyone who has similar interests to absolutely do it. There is a scarcity of diverse lawyers in America, indeed of lawyers of African descent. This scarcity, combined with increasing expansion of law firms into the developing world, including Africa, has opened up tremendous opportunities for lawyers with diverse backgrounds.

It also does not hurt to talk to those Ugandan or other African immigrants in the field for advice on how to navigate a legal career in the U.S. To those recent immigrants that want to enter other professions, it is critical to protect those dreams and pursue them. All too often, immigrants discourage each other from certain professions that are considered difficult for immigrants to succeed. Have a little faith in yourself to get to where you want to get.

The above story was carried in Catherine Nampewo very words a new US State Attorney in the State of Massachusetts. She together with Perusi Namulwa passed their Massachusetts Bar Exams to become Attorneys at Law. See related story — http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2013/11/15/ugandan-diaspora-success-stories-perusi-namulwa-to-become-a-massachusetts-state-attorney/


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

11 Comments


  1.  

    Your focus and determination are quite an inspiration to many of us. I am proud of your great achievement and I know very many people, especially young ladies will try to emulate you. Thank you for your willingness to advise anyone desiring to pursue the legal profession. Godspeed on your journey as an attorney.




  2.  
    Catherine

    I smiled as i read this,Am not just proud of you,am elated for you Cathy!!You go shine on girl…The sky is the limit..




  3.  
    JOY

    THANKS FOR MAKING US PROUD CATHY




  4.  
    Joseph Kamugisha

    Congratulations, Catherine! Let the Sky Be Your Limit!




  5.  

    Finally we have our very own from Namagunga. I was way a head of you in years but am an avid old girl of Namagunga and i love my school roots. I took the same education though different career path with you and nothing better than that route. Whenever, I see an OG soar, I feel like I am flying with them. And many have done us proud. Thank you for encouraging and making us all proud. NOGA should know their girl is soaring like an eagle. God bless you more!

    Fiona Makumbi




  6.  
    Helen

    Huge achievement! The sky is the limit for you. Wish you all the success in your career!




  7.  
    Helen

    That’s my brilliant sister! You Go Girl.




  8.  
    Aloysius Tamale

    What a thrilling, inspiring and true story that briefly tells it all, reminds me of the heartbreaking call you made at 3:00 am in the morning! So proud of you Catherine and I wish you success in everything that is yet to come.




  9.  
    Diana Wanaha

    Congratulations Catherine. The sky is surely the limit.





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