JULIA HANNA Harvard Law Today
For Jameyanne Fuller ’19, outer space represents infinite possibilities. “I’ve always been an astronomy nerd,” she says. “I went to space camp in third grade, and I took all of the space-focused classes I could in college, but the technology wasn’t really there for me to be a science major.”
That’s a passing reference to the fact that Fuller was born blind. In college, it was easier to pursue other passions—literature and creative writing. Which isn’t to say Fuller shies away from challenging situations. After graduating from Kenyon College, the New Hampshire native traveled to Italy on a Fulbright Scholarship, teaching English and chemistry to students in Assisi, a town of 25,000 in the Umbria region.
Italy has laws in place to ensure guide dogs can enter places of business and public spaces. But often Fuller and her black lab, Mopsy, were barred by store owners who felt differently. “Everything in college went so smoothly,” she says. “This was the first time I had to advocate for myself, but it wasn’t to get a textbook or an assignment. It was, I need to get on this bus. I need to get into this store to buy milk. And it was in a different language.”
She laughs now, at what was no doubt an unpleasant, stressful experience. The prevailing attitude, she explains, was that anyone with a disability should be at home with family. But by the end of the year, people told her they were using her example to encourage other blind people they knew. “I saw the difference I could make, just by buying groceries,” she says. The year abroad convinced her to apply to law school, with the goal of becoming a disability rights lawyer.
Everyone told Fuller the first year of law school would be a serious undertaking, but she was still taken by surprise: “I’ve never worked so hard or felt so stupid.” But there were plenty of wonderful discoveries, too. In her 1L property class, Fuller heard about space law, a field she hadn’t even known existed. “It was a way to combine all the things I love,” she says simply. “Space law has been around in some form since the Russians launched Sputnik, but it’s still undefined and completely fascinating.” There are a number of international treaties and federal regulations, she explains, but many unanswered questions remain in the area of private industry. Can a for-profit company mine an asteroid, for example, when international regulations state that no country can own it?
Space, as it happens, also figures in Fuller’s writing, which mostly falls into the science fiction and fantasy genres. “I get cranky if I don’t write,” she says. “At orientation, they told us to have something outside law school—something that is yours—to ground you. Writing does that for me, and there’s also the aspect of escaping into a story and creating something completely new.” With several published short stories under her belt, Fuller is drafting a middle-grade science fiction novel and working to complete a few more stories. “I’ve taught myself to write in those awkward 10- or 15-minute spaces that you think are too short to do anything,” she says.
Fuller also keeps a blog, where visitors can find links to her fiction, book recommendations, reflections on space law and guest posts from Neutron, the guide dog she partnered with in 2017 when Mopsy retired. “The first time you get a dog, it’s almost like a miracle,” she says. “You feel like you’re flying down the street.” Neutron does things a little differently from Mopsy, Fuller says. He’s much faster, for one, and likes a challenge, choosing to slalom his way through a construction zone rather than go straight through. “You learn to sense what the dog is doing through the handle of the harness,” she says. “If I’m stressed out, my dog knows it. If he’s stressed out, I know it. Sometimes I can feel him turn to look up at me, as if to say, I did it right, didn’t I?”
Becoming oriented in a new area requires effort, even with a guide dog. Fuller has become expert at making tactile maps with puffy paint and braille labels. A recent change in location for trivia night required a scouting trip to determine the best route through a complicated intersection near Porter Square. When it comes to navigating coursework, she shows off a Braille tablet used for everything—reading cases, taking notes, surfing the internet.
But mostly, Fuller has no interest in dwelling on what differentiates her as a blind person. At HLS she’s involved with the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology and the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, in addition to serving as vice president of special projects for the Space Exploration & Admiralty Law Society. After graduation, she’s looking forward to “getting out there and doing what I’ve been studying for,” hopefully in a federal agency that intersects in some way with space law and technology—maybe even NASA, someday.
One blog post eloquently addresses the question of why Fuller would shift from disability law. She writes, “Disability rights means … pursuing the career I want to pursue. … There is a lot of value in seeing someone with a disability doing something totally unrelated to their disability. And really, this is the point of disability rights: to let people do whatever they want to … just like everybody else.”
在一个新的领域里，即使有导盲犬，也需要努力。富勒已经成为用浮肿的油漆和盲文标签制作触觉地图的专家。最近一次琐事之夜地点的改变需要一次侦察旅行，以确定通过波特广场附近复杂交叉口的最佳路线。当涉及到导航课程时，她展示了一个盲文平板电脑，用于阅读案例、做笔记、上网。 但大多数情况下，富勒对如何区分她是一个盲人没有兴趣。在HLS，她还参与了《哈佛法律与技术杂志》和《哈佛谈判法评论》，并担任空间探索与海事法学会特别项目的副总裁。毕业后，她期待着“走出去，做我一直在学习的事情”，希望有一天，在一个与空间法和技术有某种交叉的联邦机构，甚至是美国宇航局。 一篇博文雄辩地回答了富勒为什么要从残疾法转变的问题。她写道：“残疾权利意味着……追求我想追求的事业。…看到残疾人士做与残疾完全无关的事情有很大的价值。事实上，这就是残疾权利的关键：让人们做他们想做的事……就像其他人一样。”