If life were a chessboard, Caroline Picart would be the queen. Her ability to move swiftly and decisively has earned her numerous academic degrees and vast experience in disparate fields of human endeavor.
“Some people may call my life complicated,” said Picart, a 3L pursuing a joint juris doctor-M.A. in women’s studies, “but I know that everything I’ve done is to be true to my self — to follow what I am curious about and passionate enough to work on.”
Born in Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines, Picart grew up under martial law. In 1986, while working on her bachelor’s in biology, she acted as a student leader in the People Power Revolution that overthrew the country’s dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.
Like the student uprising in China, Picart and her unarmed compatriots confronted government soldiers in tanks.
“I was one of hundreds of student leaders who formed human barricades and encouraged soldiers to step down from their tanks,” she said.
Picart left the Philippines in 1989 after earning her bachelor’s and her master’s in philosophy from Ateneo de Manila University and working simultaneously in three departments teaching zoology, introduction to philosophy and introduction to astrophysics.
She attended Cambridge University as the Sir Run Run Shaw Scholar, a competitive international scholarship open to Asians, to study neuroembryology under Roger Keynes. When she developed allergies to the chemicals she worked with, Picart switched to the history and philosophy of science.
Picart graduated from Cambridge in 1991 at the top of her class but felt the urge to reflect on the professional options open to her. She spent a year in Seoul, South Korea, teaching English as a professor at the Yonsei University Foreign Language Institute, writing as an invited columnist for English-language newspapers, hosting one-woman exhibitions as a visual artist, and instructing ballroom dancing in her spare time.
“While I was offered opportunities to stay in South Korea and I enjoyed being there,” she said, “I felt that I still had room to grow and new worlds to explore.”
Picart studied continental philosophy with doctoral minors in aesthetics, criticism and comparative literature at Pennsylvania State University.
Since receiving her Ph.D. in 1996, Picart has produced sketches, paintings, books, scholarly and popular articles and syllabi across the world. She has also performed and competed in ballroom dance, and in 2006, won the U.S. Open Pro Am Competition in Cabaret, a mix of ballroom, ballet and gymnastics. She now teaches ballroom dance, and serves as an invited dance judge nationally.
She began drawing with her father as a child.
In 1986, Picart’s pen and ink sketches were featured in her first art show; her one-woman show in Seoul, South Korea. She continues to produce new works for exhibitions and for client orders.
Picart’s writing subjects are also rooted in her childhood. She has published several books on the tales of Dracula and Frankenstein, and how the stories have changed over time.
“My nanny used to tell me stories about vampires and monsters, and they always fascinated me,” she said.
Her most recent book, to be released in July with Palgrave-Macmillan, is Speaking of Monsters: A Teratological Anthology. She has also written books about the Holocaust and ballroom dancing and has published law review articles during her time at UF Law.
Before UF Law, Picart was a tenured associate professor at Florida State University. She taught courses on critical theory on philosophy and literature and on issues of film and literature through different time periods. It was during her teaching that she became interested in the practice of law.
En route to law school, Picart hosted a nationally and internationally syndicated radio show. Her guests included Nobel Prize winners Keith Beauchamp and Sir Harry Kroto, and professors in several fields.
Picart was accepted to law schools in several states, some with full scholarships.
“UF Law was the best choice, overall, especially with my and my husband’s personal and professional ties to Florida,” she said. Picart’s husband, Gerardo Rivera, holds a law degree and he consults on Equal Employment Opportunity law.
While attending UF Law, Picart has pursued interests in international law and intellectual property and served as the editor-in-chief of the Florida Journal of International Law and as articles editor of the Journal of Technology Law & Policy.
Picart expects to graduate in May 2013 when she hopes for a possible fellowship, clerkship or to practice in intellectual property on international law. But, she says, she might also return to academia.
“While I know I move rapidly from one area to the next,” she said, “I know there will come a time where I have to settle down. Until then, I will continue to explore what lies ahead, with my husband by my side.”