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Who is Ruth Carter and why are Folks Picking Sides?

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12/01/10

That was the case earlier this week when I overheard two women discussing the state of the country. One woman said, after hearing about how a young boy had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and how the family avoided financial disaster, ''I think it's a wonderful idea. That's what's going to turn this country around; folks coming together and making miracles happen with a few dollars here and there''. The little boy's aunt suggested they put his drawings on the internet to see if they could sell them for a few dollars each. Turns out, the family has not only saved their home, but they have also managed to bring awareness to his form of cancer- all because a few thousand people around the world paid $12 dollars to own a piece of this child's art.


That's the theory one law school student has in mind. Concerned, and rightly so, over the rising cost of tuition, Ruth Carter, a self-proclaimed ''law kid'', knew it was time to do things a bit differently. She had budgeted around $50,000 to get her through law school. Three years in, she recently discovered the average debt is close to $89,000. Her idea? Create a program, ensure the math adds up and then throw it out there to see what kind of reaction - and more importantly the response - she gets. You have to admit, it's a big risk. She knew it could likely leave her a bit vulnerable. And did it ever! While she's received a lot of support, there are those out there who are quite vocal in their disapproval, though no one is quite sure why. The model is simple and the best way to explain it is to use her words:

It will run from January 1, 2011 until July 27, 2011 - the last day of the Arizona Bar Exam. Each day can have one sponsor.
I will also be tweeting every day about the life of a law student, so anyone who follows me can vicariously go to law school for a semester.
The cost to sponsor January 1st is only $1, and the price for each subsequent day goes up by $1 (Jan. 2nd = $2, Jan. 3rd = $3, Jul. 27th = $208).

In return, those who do sponsor her become king for a day on her blog. She will promote the sponsor's cause, his business or whatever else, within reason, of course. Frankly, she's covered the bases and ensured it's a win-win for both sides.

The research I've completed includes a few folks who are frustrated because they didn't think of it first and others still are accusing her of being spoiled or entitled. And of course, there are those who support her wholeheartedly. During an impromptu interview this evening, I asked Carter what her family thought about her idea, ''Sponsor a Law Kid'', or SALK as it's trending on Twitter. ''I called home for some sympathy. When I told my Dad that people were leaving angry comments on my website he said, "Good!" He was glad that what I wrote had a strong impact on my readers.'' She also said she's heeding the advice of a friend who told her, ''Figure out whose opinions matter to you, then genuinely do not give a s&$t what anyone else thinks''. She admits it's easier said than done.

Maybe those two women I overheard last week are on to something. After all, part of Oprah's big ''Favorite Things'' episode included a site where people could go and donate a few dollars to help a small business owner in another country get started. There's also a site growing in popularity for teachers here in the U.S. who are short on school supplies for students. Anyone can donate a dollar or a thousand dollars for whatever the teacher needs for her classroom. It's all about doing the best we can with what we have and in Carter's instance, she had the creativity and willingness to move forward in an effort to see her own dreams come full circle. How can anyone disagree with that?

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