By Brandon Breslow
If life were a chessboard, Caroline Picart (3L) would be the queen. Her ability to move swiftly and decisively has helped her earn four degrees of higher education in biology and philosophy, a postdoc in criticism, theory & jurisprudence, numerous book publications, art exhibitions and a radio show with an audience of nearly 2 million listeners.
"Some people may call my life complicated," Picart said, "but I know that everything I've done is to be true to myself — 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 degree in biology, she became a student leader in the People Power Revolution that overthrew the country's ruler, Ferdinand Marcos.
"I was one of hundreds of student leaders who formed human barricades and encouraged soldiers to step down," she said.
After earning her bachelor's degree in biology and her master's degree in philosophy from Ateneo de Manila University and working simultaneously in three departments teaching zoology, introduction to philosophy and introduction to astrophysics, Picart left the Philippines in 1989.
She attended Cambridge University in England as the Sir Run Run Shaw Scholar, a competitive international scholarship open to Asians, to study Neuroembryology under Roger Keynes, the great grandson of John Maynard Keynes, the economist. When she developed allergies to the chemicals she worked with, she instead pursued a master of philosophy degree (M.Phil.) in history and philosophy of science.
"The change was swift with the help of my professors from the biology department, who truly treated me with respect and compassion," she said.
Two scientific abstracts later published by her professors included her name as one of the authors.
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 decided to pursue her Ph.D. in philosophy and was offered scholarships from Cambridge University, the University of Pittsburgh and The Pennsylvania State University. She chose to study continental philosophy with doctoral minors in aesthetics, criticism and comparative literature at The Pennsylvania State University, then reputed to have the top continental philosophy program.
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 originally began drawing with her father when she was 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, was the first by a Filipino woman and came highly recommended by the Philippine Embassy. She routinely produces new works of art to display in exhibitions and in keeping with client orders.
"The first impulses of drawing started with my father," she said. "In college it was a way to relax."
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 changed over time. Her most recent book, to be released in 2012 with Palgrave-Macmillan, is Speaking of Monsters: A Teratological Anthology.
"My nanny used to tell me stories about vampires and monsters, and they always fascinated me," she said. "Growing up, I have always lived across different cultures, and the rhetorics of monstrosity — of creating 'monsters' — and the social construction of 'others' continue to draw my attention."
Picart has also written books pertaining to the Holocaust and ballroom dancing.
Before attending UF Law, she was a tenured associate professor at Florida State University. She taught courses on the theory and issues of film and literature through different time periods. It was during her teaching, that she became interested in the practice of law, and chose to apply to law schools.
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. Before deciding to enroll at UF Law, she had the opportunity to speak with Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals, who advised her that if her long-term goals were to stay in Florida, it would be best to go to the flagship school.
"UF Law was the best choice, overall, especially with my and my husband's personal and professional ties to Florida," she said.
While attending UF Law, Picart has gained interests in international law and intellectual property. She recently had an article published in the East Asia Law Review at the University of Pennsylvania, "Attempting to Go Beyond Forgetting: the Legacy of the Tokyo IMT and Crimes of Violence Against Women as a Military Strategy."
Picart is expected to graduate in August with her options open for a possible fellowship, judicial clerkship or a practice in one of her fields of interest.
"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."