Every time she goes back to Afghanistan, Malalai Farooqi is reminded of the difference between life there and her life in the United States.
Farooqi, a La Verne Law graduate and Afghan American, realizes how lucky she is and how much freedom she has. It’s humbling, she says.
Now, she is giving back.
In February, Farooqi will travel to Afghanistan and put her law education to good use for people in her home country. She will work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs helping with efforts to rebuild the country or in the district attorney’s office prosecuting criminals.
She will stay in Kabul with her uncle, Dr. Azizullah Lodin, who is chairman of the High Office of Oversight & Anti-Corruption for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Dr. Lodin was instrumental in Farooqi’s decision to work in Afghanistan.
“I don’t think I would have been on this path had it not been for him,” Farooqi said. “He’s been involved in Afghanistan politics since I can remember. I’ve always been brought up with the idea that you have to give back.”
Farooqi, who passed the July California Bar Examination, did her undergraduate work at UC Irvine, studying criminal law, political science and philosophy. She earned a scholarship from La Verne and began the program in 2009.
Farooqi was born in Pakistan and her family left during the Cold War, a conflict her father was involved in. She remembers being in a room filled with relatives who told stories about the conflict and its impact on the people. In her home, politics were an important topic of conversation, and such discourse became part of family dinners and events.
A confident and driven woman, Farooqi cites the diverse curriculum at La Verne Law and the support of instructors as factors in her success.
“A lot of my professors have been really instrumental in my success. They really pushed me to pursue my dreams. La Verne has this really amazing faculty,” she said.
La Verne Law also surprised her. She was thrilled two years ago when the college hosted a three-day symposium called “Afghanistan & State Building.”
Farooqi volunteered at the event, calling her mother frequently with updates about what she’d heard. She was proud that La Verne hosted an event that brought together international dignitaries, military officials, attorneys, government leaders and others to work on a common goal: establishing protocols for states emerging from post-conflict turmoil.
The first attorney in a family that includes business professionals, doctors, and engineers, Farooqi is looking forward to applying her knowledge about the rules of law.
Farooqi, who last visited Afghanistan four years ago, speaks Dari fluently and says she feels at home in both countries.
“I’ve had a really wonderful opportunity to be here, to live in this country and I don’t want to just forget about where I came from,” she said.
Afghan Americans can help rebuild Afghanistan, she said. She doesn’t want to pass up a chance to do so, something that has made her parents extremely proud.
“I’m most looking forward to just really helping, really contributing,” she said. “I’m very thankful that I was able to get an education here. I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned.”