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A lawyer in the making
A lawyer in the making

CALL SABA AHMED '04 precocious. She completed high school equivalency at age 15 and at 19 finished Portland State with a double major in electrical engineering and physics.

She married at 20 and will complete her law degree at Lewis & Clark College next spring. At 23 years old, the Portland resident is a manager for Intel Corp., which she joined in her third year at PSU, and where she continues to work part time.

As if work, school, and marriage are not enough, Ahmed was in her native Pakistan in December with a group of American attorneys and law students to monitor elections in that troubled country. She was a few blocks away on the day opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.

"I was so scared," admits Ahmed, who also was shocked at how "people are so used to bombings and suicide attacks."

Ahmed started life as a member of an upper-middle-class family with high expectations of its children. Her father was a mathematics professor, her mother a chemist. Ahmed says that she, her two sisters, and brother were given two career options: medicine or engineering. Law, she explains, doesn't carry the cachet it does in America, and it is not a profession Pakistani women usually enter.

But in her final two years at PSU, Ahmed met two Portland patent lawyers. "They motivated me to go to law school," she says, after they talked about the flexibility and family-friendly time commitment of that specialty. Ahmed settled on that path in her senior year, but chose to continue working for Intel and take a break from school.

Today, she enjoys law school and is working as an extern for Oregon Supreme Court Justice Virginia Linder, which she calls "very exciting." Ahmed is glad she visited Pakistan, where she had hoped to live in the future, but returned sobered about its prospects.

"Portland is a great city," she says, "and I am very fortunate to be here."

By Cliff Collins