Thea Johnson '03
Position: Fellow, Stanford Law School
I have had so many great experiences since college that relate to my time in the History Department at Harvard. Directly after graduating, I became a trial preparation assistant in the Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. I had written my honors thesis on changes in the rape laws in New York City in the 1970s and one of the chapters was dedicated to a discussion of the creation of the Manhattan Sex Crimes Unit. It was a great topic during my interview! It also gave me a historical perspective on a very modern institution. After my year as a paralegal, I spent two years at the American School of Quito in Ecuador as a middle school history teacher. Having the opportunity to impart my own love of history to a new generation of students was a wonderful experience. After Ecuador, there were three years of law school, followed by a fascinating job as a public defender in New York City. I now find myself doing what I've always wanted to -- mixing law and education. I am a fellow at Stanford Law School, where I teach Legal Research and Writing to first year law students while researching issues of criminal justice reform in Latin America. Both my writing and research skills, which are so critical to my current work, were carefully developed in the History Department. I would not be any kind of writer today if not for my incredible thesis advisor, Thomas Underwood. And I thank the department tutorials for showing me the benefits of finely excavating a historical record for understanding and depth. Those research skills, learned over ten years ago, are more relevant to me now than I could have imagined.