Meet the Inaugural Class - Xenia Tashlitsky
Editor's note: This is part of a year-long series of features profiling the individual members of the UC Irvine School of Law Inaugural Class. We hope you enjoy getting to know a little bit about each student in this dynamic first class.
Hometown: San Diego
Undergrad major: Political Science
Iconic symbol: The Star Wars Cookbook
Xenia Tashlitsky's parents left the Soviet Union when their only child was 5 years old.
Her father's account of their departure, just months before the breakup of the Soviet Union, involves a bit of derring-do and plenty of luck, and Tashlitsky recounts the tale with her characteristic bright smile and laughter.
"My dad says there was sort of a small window when the American consulate let you get a visa directly from the Soviet Union, and my dad says he was the last person to get a visa before the office closed.
"But the Soviet Union only let you go to Israel if you were Jewish, so we told them we were going to Israel via the United States and just never got back on the plane."
By the way: the Tashlitskys aren't Jewish.
And her parents, both professors, didn't know anyone in the United States. "They had no connections here. I think it was mostly for opportunity. There was a lot less that people could do, especially for women [in the Soviet Union]," Tashlitsky says.
Today, her parents are software engineers still living in San Diego, where they landed upon arriving in the United States. And Tashlitsky grew up to be a young woman with a quirky sense of humor, who excelled in school and was accepted to all four of the law schools she applied to: Chicago, Cornell, UCLA and UCI.
She also went to UCI for undergraduate studies, majoring in Political Science. "I wasn't good at math and I thought art was not practical, so I chose something in the middle."
Fluent in Russian, Tashlitsky worked as a professor's assistant for a Russian lecturer on campus. But after graduation, she tried a random sampling of jobs: "I worked as a Photoshop artist for a bedding designer, and as a web master for a jewelry company, and I worked as a paralegal, and I really liked it."
She especially enjoyed the research and writing she got to do at the small antitrust consumer law firm.
Which led her to law school. And while she was accepted at a variety of reputable schools, she ultimately chose her alma mater again. Watch the video clip above to learn why.
And read more about Xenia in her own words:
If I weren't in law school I'd be ...
A web master. It was an interesting job. It was my mom's best friend and it was sort of an unpaid internship. And they had a "garoffice," which was an office in their garage. It was a silver jewelry wholesaler ... and I would write the little descriptions, and your goal was to include as many keywords as possible while still making it sound good.
The other part of my job that wasn't as pleasant was: she wanted to sell silver jewelry in hospital gift shops so I would have to call hospitals and solicit, and it would be like, "If this is a life or limb-threatening emergency, dial 9-1-1" [on the recording], and I'd be like, "Hi, I'd like to sell you some stuff."
It was very awkward. I never sold a single thing; I was very eager to get off the phone.
While waiting for the jury to reach a verdict, I would ...
Be watching "Judge Judy"!
I love her. I read all her books. In fact, my grandparents are learning English and I got them all her books and they're reading them.
"Law & Order" or "Boston Legal"?
"Boston Legal," because it has William Shatner! And also this guy from a future "Star Trek," so it's kind of like a Star Trek reunion even though they never actually starred together.
The Story Behind the Symbol (pictured in her portrait photo):
It's The Star Wars Cookbook. I like Star Wars, and I'm just learning how to cook, so I can make one thing out of here, and it's "Obi-Wan Kebabs."
Favorite song to study to:
Actually my boyfriend just sent me a video of a Serbian pop singer also named Xenia who sings about pizza, except I think it's like a sexual metaphor of some sort ... (laughs)
Last non-legal book read:
Actually, I'm reading a book right now, it's a comic book. (She pulls it out of her bag: A Blizzard of Lizards by Dave Kellett)
I used to be the opinion editor for the New U [student newspaper] and one of the things I did was increase the number of comic strips in the paper. This is one of our artists, and ... he got his own book series, so he signed it for me at Comic-Con.
He's a guy I found over the Internet, but I convinced him to let us print his comics for free in exchange for publicity.
Last meal request:
Hmmm ... Sushi. (Nods affirmatively.) I like the sweet shrimp, which is where the shrimp is served separate and the exoskeleton is fried and you eat it, too. It's really good.