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Olga Kaplan

Bold Moves

By Mary Johnson

Winter 2009

Olga Kaplan ’09 remembers vividly the first time she bit into a bright, yellow banana. She was 7 years old, and her family had just moved to Brooklyn from their native Ukraine, where grocery store shelves were often empty—and never carried bananas.

“Having come from a communist country that had fallen apart, I treasure some things that people take for granted,” says Kaplan, now just a few months away from her Columbia Law School graduation.

Although Kaplan has mostly shed her Russian accent, the recollections of her brief encounter with communism linger. Those memories helped shape Kaplan’s political values and beliefs, which have found an ideological home in the Law School’s chapter of the Federalist Society. The organization brings together mainly conservative and libertarian students interested in the current state of the legal order. “Its purpose,” says Kaplan, “is to form dialogue that’s not necessarily there.”

As chapter president this year, Kaplan has hosted a diverse array of events to expand the organization’s reach. She also hopes to increase alumni participation in the society and create more libertarian public interest opportunities for member students. “I inherited a strong club,” she says, noting that she wants to leave it even stronger.

After graduation, Kaplan plans to join the litigation department at Debevoise & Plimpton. “I’m not really sure what I’ll be focusing on,” she says, before adding with a laugh, “but there will be adverse parties involved.”

Photographed by Erin O'Brien