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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: October 2023 | Voting & Elections

Engaging with Purpose

Christine Dauchez

Engaging with Purpose Debenport

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The child of immigrant parents, I've spent most of my life striving to get to the top by working hard and constantly improving. The road was clear, but I never stopped to question whether I was on the right path. I was always busy, yet never fully engaged.

In my freshman year of college, a dilettante with an insatiable curiosity, I rejoiced at the activities fair and during shopping period, voraciously sampling from a tantalizing buffet of academic courses and extracurricular clubs. I eventually became a European history major, but vividly remember two of my elective courses.

One was a Japanese calligraphy class taught by a master of the art who communicated through a translator. On the first day, wielding a horsetail brush as big as himself, the sensei majestically drew swirling lines in unctuous black ink on a sheet of rice paper spread across the floor. Without uttering a word, he transmitted to us the centuries-old culture embedded in the single character on the page.

The other course was a survey of the history of landscape architecture. From the dimly lit auditorium, the professor took us on a curated tour from the Villa d’Este to Versailles. I marveled at these transformed spaces and the blurred boundaries between indoors and outdoors, house and garden, human and nature. This course inspired me to write my senior thesis on the public parks of Paris, part of Haussmann’s broader reconstruction of Paris under Napoleon III.

I went straight from college to law school to law firm, never veering from the path laid out for me, though I continued to dabble where I could, taking a course in film and law and participating in a law school exchange program with the Sorbonne. I threw myself into the study and practice of law searching in weighty casebooks and voluminous contracts for some deeper meaning.

After 30 years of practicing law, I took on a new role last year as a Knowledge & Innovation Attorney at a technology and life sciences law firm. I also recently joined the board of a non-profit theatre. Neither a techie nor a thespian, I am going off-course and choosing my own path, rekindling the thrill of discovery and the spark of connection. I find joy in the present and am excited about the future. I am engaged.