Parental support, trip to Europe provide focus for sisters graduating from law school

By Greg Miller

STAR STAFF
gmiller@starhq.com

  
Although they're not making a federal case out of it, sisters Waheba and Lyla Zeidan are still pretty excited about graduating together from Regent University Law School, Virginia Beach, Va.
   Attending law school with Lyla was "great," said Waheba. "We felt like we had a really good support system, because we were able to go through it together, and it was great as far as reducing our expenses and costs. We have always been a very close family, so it was great to have her come to law school with me. And I think as a whole it even brought us closer together."
   "As anyone knows, law school is a stressful experience, and it helps to share that stress with another loved one. We were doubly blessed to both be accepted and to be able to make the financial hardship to go together as well," remarked Lyla, who said their relationships to each other, their and God were strengthened.
   Waheba sees the Lord in family members, especially her parents, Fred and Barbara Zeidan, 615 Parkway Blvd. "I see God in them," she said. "I want to do the best that I can, and I see the Lord leading me, I think, through that path.
   "We love to come home," Lyla said. "We love to be with our family. The hardest decision that we have made in our lives was to go away and to stay away." Although it will be hard to stay in Virginia Beach, "for us to have such a wonderful support system in Tennessee rooting us on is the greatest gift God could have ever given us."
   The Zeidans are proud of their daughters. "I know they deserve the success, because I know how hard they have worked to achieve this," Barbara said. "I, too, felt like the Lord led them to do this together. This is something that they didn't plan. It just happened. It was the Lord's will."
   Both Lyla and Waheba a little quieter and more shy from their earlier years, Barbara said. "They have done so well at Regent. Going away for the first time, they developed the confidence that they needed. They developed their faith. Their faith was strengthened. They got the determination, the upbringing and the education, that they needed. They're so confident of themselves now."
   With their Being Lebanese-American heritage, Lyla and Waheba are especially looking forward to working in the international immigration area.
   Two years ago, Waheba and Lyla participated in a summer study abroad program in Strasbourg, France, concentrating their studies in international law and human rights. "We traveled around and met all kinds of people," Waheba said. "It was great to talk with people and get different viewpoints. I think in that aspect we could contribute a lot.
   "I think that was the most memorable experience that we had in law school. I think only 20 or 25 were selected to go. It was nice because we didn't know a lot of our classmates at that time, and it helped us to grow closer to them. As far as going to Europe, we had never been abroad before. It broadened our minds tremendously. It opened our minds to so many different areas, countries and cultures with so many wonderful people, and since we knew foreign languages, we were able to communicate with some of them. We still communicate with some of the ones we met in Europe."
   "I think it helped us to realize that we do want to work in a profession where we can travel abroad, where we can react to and communicate with people from various cultures," Lyla said. "I think that was the point where we decided that we do want to do something internationally, something where we can travel, using our languages to make an impact on people around the world, not just in the United States, but also on people outside the United States. I think that experience helped us to realize what our future goal was going to be."
   "We've always wanted to make an impact on the world, especially in the field of minorities," Lyla said. "We've always felt that they are not represented equally. We're blessed because we took foreign languages and we know how to converse with people of European backgrounds. But there are so many people who do not care, who don't think of them as equals. By going to law school, we hope to represent the underprivileged and those who cannot speak or who don't know the English language as well as they want to."
   The sisters want to help foreign companies to invest in the United States and help people to see the promise of coming to the United States. A governmental career is possible for the future.
   Lyla and Waheba believe their graduation timing is perfect. "I think that it's ironic, the way things have been going on with the terrorist attacks, considering that we do have an Arab background, being Lebanese-American," Lyla said. "This is a really big trial for us right now for that race especially. I think they really need attorneys right now to represent the good Arab people in the community who are trying to get on with their lives and live a normal life, who are being denied that because of their cultural background.
   "So I think with us coming out at this time, we can try to mesh the hostility between the Arabs and Americans, if they see how important it is to get along with different cultural backgrounds. I think that with where we come from and with our backgrounds, we can only stress that. We've been taught that, and we've tried to make that flourish in everything we do. Peaceful talks, peaceful negotiations and peaceful relationships are essential. I think that is an asset that we can bring to all the hostility in America right now."
   "I think it's important for us to move beyond the stereotypical thing that all Arabs are terrorists," Waheba said. "I think we should move into more of an understanding of what actually is going on there, learning to appreciate their culture and more of a peaceful talk type situation, where you have negotiations going on and everybody is giving their viewpoint, but no one feels superior over the other."
   Lyla is graduating in the top 10 percent of her class. Honors include being a member of the Negotiations Board, listed in "Who's Who: American Law Students," chair of the American Bar Association, and a recipient of the 1999-2002 Ramon N. West Scholarship. Lyla graduated from ETSU with a B.B.A. degree in marketing and a B.A. degree in Spanish. She graduated with a 3.98 GPA (summa cum laude).
   Waheba is graduating from Regent in the top 20 percent of her class. Honors include being a member of the Negotiations Board, listed in "Who's Who: American Law Students," a quarter finalist in Intramural Moot Court Competition, and a recipient of the 1999-2002 Ramon N. West Scholarship. Waheba graduated from ETSU with a B.A. degree in French and Spanish. She graduated with a GPA of 3.63 (cum laude).