Q & A With English Honors Alumni Darci Frinquelli

We English majors, like other GW undergraduates, are often concerned about our future career prospects and the worth of our degrees. GW alumna Darci Frinquelli helps us realize that we shouldn’t worry so much. After graduating in 2010 with honors in English, Frinquelli enrolled at NYU Law School, where she has applied the knowledge gained from her English coursework both in the classroom and in her social life. Though she’s “not entirely sure” what’s next for her, don’t worry–Frinquelli certainly has plenty of options.  

English Alumna Darci Frinquelli at the 2010 Commencement on the Ellipse

How has your English academic background helped you in law school?

First of all, a huge chunk of law school is simply getting the reading done and due to my time at GW I am certainly used to do doing a lot of reading outside of class. In addition to the reading, we do have a few writing assignments, including a 30-page “substantial writing” paper, and all of them include a great deal of research. I am more accustomed to writing these kinds of papers than classmates who majored in finance or the sciences. After writing a 70-page thesis, I am luckily not too daunted by the prospect of a 30-page paper. 

Lastly, almost every second-year law student works on a law journal and we spend most of our time proofreading articles and fixing footnotes so that they conform to the legal style guide. I have always been a bit of a grammar nerd and I can definitely say that this work is made substantially easier by all of the years I spent writing and editing both for my classes at GW and with the GW Review, which I can objectively say is the greatest literary journal this country has ever seen.

What is the most valuable skill/concept that you’ve learned from your undergraduate studies?

Definitely the ability to bring together a group of disparate works and find a common theme between them. The whole point of every law school course is to make connections between prior cases and the situation at hand. My courses at GW taught me to find parallels and analogies between texts as well as to explore a work’s context to see how the author’s place in history affected his writing. Cases, just like novels, are shaped by the era from which they emerge and are colored by the judges’ private opinions. For instance the Supreme Court determined both Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education by looking to the Constitution, but the Court’s interpretations of that document were greatly affected by the eras in which they were determined.

How else has your English degree helped you since graduating?

I do occasionally talk to people outside of law school and I find that my English degree is pretty useful in my social life and the outside world as well. Even though I don’t often get to read for pleasure anymore, most of my non-English major friends who spent their college years immersed in textbooks which they no longer remember have a way to go before they will catch up with the number of literary classics I have read. This fact is very surprisingly useful for making general conversation, erudite allusions, and successful nights of pub trivia.

But ultimately I like to think that all of the reading I did in college has stayed with me now to make me a more well rounded person. All of those wonderful books I studied at GW have helped me to hone my own value set, see situations from a great deal of perspectives, explore contemporary texts with some background knowledge of the Western canon, and analogize to a Wharton novel when giving relationship advice or watching Downton Abbey.

What’s next for you?

I am not entirely sure–I am largely focusing on environmental law at NYU (American literature has always been my favorite and I blame the Transcendentalists for my choice) but I would also like to be involved with religious liberty work. I will be working at the EPA this summer and then I have another year of school. After that I’ll hopefully be working in environmental law, perhaps with the government or an advocacy group.

Sorry, I can’t resist asking the most cliché English major question: What’s your favorite book?

The Great Gatsby. Almost every sentence in there could be a poem by itself. 

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