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Vivian Connell

Teacher turned lawyer

Vivian Connell

Vivian is a profession transient. She is first-generation college (UGA, 1989, Furman University 1994) and first generation law (UNC Law 2013). Hailing mostly from Greenville, SC (middle & high school) and with family roots in Georgia, she was raised all over the southeast including six terrifying years in southern Mississippi. She spent her formative years in Athens, Georgia where she learned to think for herself, question authority, and photograph bands. She worked and studied in Japan where she fell in love with teaching. Her husband’s job landed her in Charlotte in 2003 where she taught Japanese, ESL, and English, and founded a student activism club to promote civic engagement. In 2010, after getting her two children mostly raised, Vivian left teaching for UNC Law, moving her family to Chapel Hill.

After being admitted to the North Carolina Bar in October of 2013, Vivian joined Public Schools First, NC’s advisory board and taught ESL at Phoenix Academy and Chapel Hill High School while pursuing a diagnosis for leg weakness. On March 12, 2014, Vivian was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), Lou Gehrig’s disease. She has limited shelf life, and odds are, will expire in the next eighteen months.

Since her diagnosis, she’s executed a crowd-funded social justice field trip for disadvantaged students, acted as spokesperson for the NEA during the 2014 midterms, and done some blogging ( on the social and political issues she had hoped to champion. She’s glad to have landed in the Triangle, and she rather enjoys the universe’s perverse sense of humor.