After seven years as a general surgeon in New York, Jasmine Brooks was fed up with hmos that rewarded primary-care doctors for not referring patients to specialists and disciplining them when they did. In 2006, she enrolled in law school at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. Not sure she had the drive to "give it my all," she signed up part time while teaching health and sciences to pad her landing. She didn't tell her mom and sister what she was doing "in case I failed." Brooks, 39, emigrated from Vietnam as a child; now a full-time student (though still squeezing in time to teach), she expects to graduate in 2009.
Goal: To change healthcare policy and protect doctors. Brooks loves to litigate and says she's good at it.
Aha moment: When her sister, a lawyer, had her second child. "It made me wonder if my choices were appropriate," says Brooks, who opted for a career over a family.
Why Southern: Warm weather, good food, and the part-time professorship. Southern also has strong gender and racial diversity.
Financing: For a former surgeon, no big deal. She pays the tuition (nearly $7,000 per semester) out of pocket.