Interview with Professor Marina Angel of Temple University

Professor Marina Angel

Professor Emerita of Law Marina Angel, chatted with this Greek-American journalist about being recognized by the Greek-American community for her work to improve social justice for women and minorities.

“I was surprised and very honored to be recognized by my own community,” Professor Angel said, about her recognition at the Hellenic News of America 30th anniversary GALA. “The video that they played was made by the American Bar Association when I got their highest award. It’s terrific. The video also goes into my Greek background as well.”

This four-minute video prepared by the ABA for the Margaret Brent Award presentation of Professor Marina Angel may be seen by clicking here.

On her Greek heritage, she said, “My mother was born in Constantinople and fled in 1922 with the massacres. My father was born in the Southern Peloponnese in a small town near Ancient Olympia. You can describe my mother as a political, religious refugee and my father as an economic refugee. My father, unlike many Greek immigrants, wasn’t interested in making money. He wanted education and put himself through Columbia Dental School and graduated in 1923.”

Professor Angel is drawn to teaching at the graduate school level due to the diversity of the students at Temple University. “Many of them were the first in their families to attend college and graduate school. They were diverse economically, racially and religiously. It was really interesting to have that mix class,” she said.

Her proudest career moments include earning awards for her contributions on race and women’s rights, and teaching in the classroom. “Some of those moments involved teaching abroad. I’ve taught in Japan at Temple’s University Tokyo campus three times, and it was wonderful having a mixed class of Japanese and American students,” she said.

Another proud moment for Professor Angel involved her interviewing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg. “I loved it. It was really fun,” she admitted. “I’ve known Justice Ginsburg since 1971. There were very few women law teachers at the time. Given how few law professors there were at the time, we knew each other and it has been an ongoing relationship.”

On the impact of technology on the legal profession and Academia, she said, “A lot of more filings in court can be done by computer. One of the problems in the classroom is that students often surf the web during class. They don’t dare do that with me because I am covering so much material. I’ve really never had a problem with it. Other teachers who would go more slowly and would be more boring would have a problem with this. In term of the actual legal profession, the courts have now computerized all their records, so lawyers can file briefs online.”
For aspiring law students, she said, “Be very careful about applying to law school. You have to really, really want it. Law school is a lot of work, and it has gotten harder and harder to find jobs. There are too many lawyers out there. Be prepared to study very hard, and spend your vacations and summers doing work. Volunteering in law firms looks good on resumes and it gives you actual practice experience.”
Regarding the Greek-American community in the United States, Professor Angel said, “It is a community that has done well. It is somewhat unfortunate that the only thing that ties us together is the Church.”
The legal scholar defined the word success as being “happy with your job and your life.” “Don’t pick a job that you are not really interested in and are unhappy with,” she concluded. “When I was a kid, most people worked in a job and spent their time complaining about their jobs. I’ve always had a job that I liked.”
To learn more about the illustrious career of Professor Emerita Marina Angel, visit the official Temple University website.

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