Choice and Capability

By Camie Carlock

Ms. Carlock graduated in 2013 from Washington and Lee University, where she majored in Politics and minored in Poverty & Human Capability Studies. After working in Washington, D.C. for two years with the National Association of Attorneys General, she returned to Texas for law school. She is currently in her first year at The University of Texas School of Law.

“So tell me about this Shepherd Poverty Program. What exactly is that?”

"I began to ask myself what kind of student and citizen I wanted to become," writes Carlock. Pictured here as Shepherd Intern at N Street Village (2011).

“I began to ask myself what kind of student and citizen I wanted to become,” writes Carlock. Pictured here as Shepherd Intern at N Street Village (2011).


After reviewing my resume, attorneys most often ask this question during summer job interviews. I’m always eager to answer because I’m given one more opportunity to share my eye-opening experiences with the Shepherd Program. The only problem is figuring out how to sum up every way in which the program enriched my college experience and shaped my character.

As a first-year at W&L, I quickly learned that the poverty 101 teacher was one of the professors you had to take before graduating. I honestly didn’t know much about the Shepherd Program at the time. In my efforts to gain admission to a competitive university like W&L, I went above and beyond my high school’s community service requirements. I figured the Shepherd Program could be an interesting way to continue that “feel good” way of giving back, so I signed up for the Introduction to Poverty Course. Little did I know my entire college experience would change after four weeks of thought-provoking discussions and service-learning during the spring term of my first year. As our class reconsidered the ways we each view an unfortunately large portion of our population, I began to ask myself what kind of student and citizen I wanted to become.

"While I developed a variety of ways to assess poverty during these twelve-week courses, I could not have asked for greater teachers than the homeless women at N Street Village during my eight-week long Shepherd Alliance Internship," writes Ms. Carlock (W&L 2013).

“While I developed a variety of ways to assess poverty during these twelve-week courses, I could not have asked for greater teachers than the homeless women at N Street Village.” writes Carlock.


Over the next three years, I took poverty-related courses in Economics, Psychology, Politics, and a seminar in the W&L Law School. While I developed a variety of ways to assess poverty during these twelve-week courses, I could not have asked for greater teachers than the homeless women at N Street Village during my eight-week long Shepherd Alliance Internship. These Washington, D.C. women helped me understand that homelessness is not a choice. Much to my surprise, many of these kind women had stable upbringings and careers. But unfortunately, many of them were laid off during the 2008 economic downturn or could not support themselves after husbands passed away. These women who intimidated me on my first day showed me that there are many factors in our lives that we cannot control. But if we have the ability to help someone, whether it be through volunteer work or listening to individuals share their stories, we cannot disregard that ability over which we do have control.

As I continue to navigate law school and explore my career options, I look forward to participating in student pro bono opportunities and applying to UT Law’s Domestic Violence Clinic next year. I credit the Shepherd Program as one of the greatest influences in my decision to apply to law school. Beginning during my first-year, the Shepherd Program taught me the importance of fostering others’ capabilities. Since graduating, I have realized that this program not only fostered my capabilities but also those of bright, enthusiastic students across the country. Professor Beckley, The Shepherd Program and its faculty at Washington and Lee and the women of N Street Village encouraged me to consider the needs of others and the choices I make that can contribute to fostering their capabilities. I am eager to both observe and collaborate with future Shepherd Program students on the ways in which we address the abilities over which we have control.

I don’t yet know what kind of law I will practice, but I do know that the way I practice it and my pro bono work in my community will be informed by my Shepherd Program experience.

#NStreetVillage #UniversityofTexasDomesticViolenceClinic

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