English alum Aja Brooks

Hometown: Hobbs, New Mexico

Majors and Graduation Year: English and Spanish, 2005

Current Employment: Director, Center for Self-Help and Dispute Resolution, Second Judicial District Court, Albuquerque, NM

What role has the English major played in your career path?

When I think of the ways my English major has been useful to me as an attorney, two obvious skills come to mind: reading and writing. Yet, when I delve deeper into the types of jobs I have chosen within my profession, I find that my major has impacted even those more nuanced decisions. I started off as a public defender representing indigent persons charged with crimes, and then I worked as the pro bono coordinator for a civil legal service organization, recruiting attorneys to help low-income people for free. Currently, I am the director of the Second Judicial District Court’s Center for Self-Help and Dispute Resolution located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We help people who are representing themselves navigate the court process. There is an element of social justice that lies at the core of each of these jobs—an idea that all people deserve access to the legal system. I know that the critical thinking skills I acquired from literary discussion and analysis at Wake Forest led me to select future occupations where I could give back to my community. 

Some may think it’s a stretch or kind of corny. How does talking about Pride and Prejudice in a class on British Fiction promote social justice? For me, unearthing a novel’s themes or analyzing the stanzas of a poem line by line helped me understand that each author had a certain message to convey about our humanity. By delving into these texts, I came to appreciate the author’s perspective and my classmates’ interpretations of this perspective. Being an English major is more than just reading and writing. It has enabled me to craft my own sense of self and world view and has taught me the true meaning of Pro Humanitate.