#52: Mid-life Law Student Laura McKenzie

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

Given that some law students, struggling to find jobs after graduation, are now suing their alma maters, I was surprised to discover via Facebook that a high school classmate of mine had chosen to take the law school plungeat age 40.

During the interview, I quickly learned that law for Laura McKenzie is not something she’s pursuing for her own financial security; rather, law for her is a decades-old calling tied inextricably to her faith. Hold the lawyer jokes. Check the cynicism. Even as a life-long skeptic, I found McKenzie’s utterly earnest desire to become a “practitioner of hope” extremely compelling.

About Laura McKenzie: Before embarking on law school, McKenzie earned a B.A. in Religion from Barnard College, an M.A. in Religion from the Trinity Episcopal School of Ministry, worked as a legal assistant, and spent more than ten years as a stay-at-home mom. She is now in her second year of studies at Belmont University College of Law in Nashville, Tennessee.

#51: Professional Slackliner Mich Kemeter

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

About a year ago, Mich Kemeter performed the feat captured in this photograph: he crossed a slackline suspended 3,000 feet above the Taft Point gully in Yosemite National Park—without a safety harness. And as remarkable as that seems, the fact is, he does this kind of thing a lot.

In this interview, I attempted to ask the obvious— why??? how???—and Kemeter graciously tried to answer. But my biggest take-away is this: there are so many different kinds of intelligence in this world. Kemeter performs these kinds of feats when, and only when, he knows he can do it. How exactly he acquired such extraordinary levels of mental and physical mastery is a mystery to me, but I came away from even our very short chat wholly convinced that there’s nothing reckless in what Kemeter does. He just knows what he’s doing in a way that most of us never will.

About Mich Kemeter: Austrian-born Michael “Mich” Kemeter is 24-years-old. He has a diploma in weapons engineering, and he was an internationally-ranked pistol shooter before turning his attentions to slacklining, BASE jumping, and climbing in 2007. In the space of five short years, he has achieved five world records.

Photo by Alexandre Buisse, used with permission from Mich Kemeter.

#50: Election Judges Richard Fann and Teresa Edwards

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

Elections that are free and fair don’t just happen by themselves. Across the country, legions of people across thousands of precincts are employed to set up and manage the voting process. In this interview, I caught up with two such people hours before the big day. First, I spoke with Richard Fann, who has served as an election judge for two decades; then I talked to Teresa Edwards, who is brand new to polling stations—both as a worker and a voter.

About Richard Fann: Richard Fann is a radio frequency engineer from Shiloh, Illinois. He served in the United States Air Force for four years before taking his engineering skills to the civilian world. Over the past 25 years, he has worked for a number of companies, including Motorola, St. Louis Electronics, and WPCS International. He is currently the President of Multibrand Engineering and Wireless. On every election day for the past twenty years, Fann has taken a vacation day from work to serve as an election judge.

About Teresa Edwards: Teresa Edwards is a recent high school graduate from Baltimore, Maryland. A few weeks ago, she returned to Baltimore after a year in Utah, and she is currently looking for a waitressing job. (Please tweet her if you know of one.) On November 6, 2012, Edwards will be working as an election judge for the first time; she will also be casting her very first ballot.