Lyddy O’Brien is a Georgia native and a first year law student at the University of Georgia. Outside of school, she loves to create art, make friendships and fight the patriarchy. She is our #WCW because she is a dedicated global human rights advocate.
1. What's your story? What makes you unique?
My parents taught me empathy and respect for all people. They taught me to be a creative thinker, and that O’Briens always keep their promises. I try to look at everything in life from different perspectives, and I believe absolutely in the power of people to make a difference in the world. My experience in the legal field is only beginning, but already I am realizing that there is too much to be done, and there is no time for cynicism. If you want something done, you should get out there and start working.
2. What motivates you?
Growing up, it never occurred to me that I could not be anyone I wanted to. It never occurred to me that someone would judge me differently because I am a woman. Now, after seeing that, even though I have had many privileges in life, people will patronize and try to limit me because I don’t have a Y chromosome. I am motivated to be not only the best person I can be, but the best woman I can be. The women who have come before me motivate me to learn, fight and grow strong, and I am motivated to be a positive female role model for other women who will come after me.
I will proudly say I am a feminist, because I believe that a person should not have less opportunity in this world because of the sex they were assigned at birth, or because of the gender they identify as. It’s insane that some people don’t understand that, and their ignorance is my motivation for proving them wrong.
3. Who is a hero of yours?
I have so many, but the two that come to mind first are Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Angela Davis; fearless ladies who use their intelligence and passion in two very different ways, all in the interest of justice.
4. Give us a road map of your career. How did you get to where you are today?
In undergrad at UGA I studied anthropology and international affairs, and that is where I first learned about human rights and international law. After realizing how passionate I was about the state of human rights globally, I decided that getting a legal education would be the best way to prepare me to be not only an advocate, but someone with the skills and authority to make a difference.
5. What's your future plan? Your goals?
I hope to work either in the field of international human rights law as a representative of the people whose rights have been violated, or as a public interest attorney in the United States. Outside of work, I’m hoping to become a more self-aware, compassionate and brave person.
6. If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?
Do not stress yourself out by comparing yourself to others. Everyone has their own path to carve out, and feeling bad about someone else’s path will only distract you from making your own. There is no one right way to live life, so just do what feels right for you.
7. What is something you feel strongly about (a cause, belief, etc.)?
The thing I am most passionate about is education for everyone. Lately it seems there has been an assault on information and rational thought, and, because of that, people are breeding ignorance. Ignorance causes fear, fear causes hatred, hatred causes violence, and violence causes only more fear. We need to break the cycle, and focus on education. Education, not just in a traditional classroom, but education about our own neighbors. I believe the saying that there is no one you cannot love if only you know their story.
If we are all more aware, more knowledgeable about other people, I think there would be fewer misunderstandings and better treatment of all.
8. What's one of the coolest things you've ever done?
The two most dare-devil like things I ever did were traveling to South Africa and swim with great white sharks in Gansbaai, and bungee jumping over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.