Yale Law School

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Pedaling for a Purpose—Amanda Lawrence ’02

For most people, a bike ride is just a quick way to get from place to place. But for Amanda Lawrence ’02, her ride through Pakistan was a journey toward a whole new life. A five-time collegiate national cycling champion by her third year of law school, Lawrence accepted an invitation to ride with the U.S. team in Pakistan on its tour of Islamabad. The tour, with thirteen other countries participating, raised money for the Kaghan Memorial Trust (KMT), a group building a school in the earthquake-damaged region of Pakistan. As Lawrence rode through the Himalayan mountains, she fell in love with the country. “The beauty of northern Pakistan literally took my breath away,” she said.

But alongside this beauty, Lawrence found awful devastation. Hit by an earthquake in 2005, rural Pakistan was still trying to get back on its feet. People lived without running water or electricity and traveled on dirt paths. As she rode, Lawrence felt a new passion come into her life. She said, “On that bike ride I had this moment when I looked out over the Kaghan Valley and just knew I would be back.”

Back in the states, Lawrence held a more conventional desk job. When she received an email from the director of the Kaghan Memorial Trust, she replied, offering to drop everything and help set up the school in Pakistan.

Lawrence devoted her time and energy to creating one of the most exciting and progressive schools ever to exist in Pakistan. The Kaghan Memorial School, which opened in 2007, has its own campus, offering English-language education, textbooks, and supplies…for free. “The mission of the school is quite…extraordinary in that it seeks to bring the highest quality education to one of the poorest regions in [Pakistan],” she said. Half of the students are girls, and the school will eventually pay for students’ education all the way through college.

Lawrence is back in America once again, but she is still active with the KMT. She has organized book drives that sent materials to Pakistan and has set up the United States nonprofit version of the KMT with help from the nonprofit clinic at Yale Law School.

“Yale Law School encouraged me to explore what I felt passionate about—to question rules and boundaries,” she said. “I would also say that it gave me…a confidence and a courage to never stop trying to achieve what it is I wanted done. My background and studies from Yale enabled me to engage in intelligent discussions…but my Yale Law School experience in a diverse classroom of passionate people enabled me to really listen and to understand—rather than judge—other viewpoints.”

Lawrence is biding her time until she returns to Pakistan. “I consider this a life-long project of mine—not something that I did for months and put behind me,” she said.

“The school and the people that I met and lived with in Pakistan are with me forever.”