Academically, I think St. Mary’s is a great school. It definitely prepares attorneys who want to litigate and be in the courtroom. Since I had applied really late, the evening section was the only one that was open, but in the end, it worked out well for me. I was in a unique position because most of my classmates were a lot older than me: They had careers, they had families—they would work all day and then come to school at night. I think watching them go through the law school experience with so much on their plates pushed me to do more than I might’ve done otherwise. I tried to use my extra time to get active with the school, both for my own sake and to feel like I was contributing. I was my class representative, and a year after that, I went on to become the Evening Student Bar Association president.
After getting accepted to the St. Mary’s immigration clinic, I worked as a student attorney for the entire school year. The other students and I had an attorney and a clinical fellow supervising us, so we weren’t just having a free-for-all, but we were each the head attorneys on the cases we got. I was very grateful to be part of that clinic. I worked with people who had faced a lot of challenges in their lives and had the opportunity to get visa approvals for two different clients—it was a very gratifying experience.
I did mock trial, too, and loved it in a completely different way. In law school, being on a mock trial team is the equivalent of being on the high school basketball or football team. It was rewarding even when we lost, because it was fun—and it didn’t hurt that we got to travel the nation to compete against other teams. As far as the workload went, it was like having an extra job, but the practical skills I learned are really helping me now.
I would tell prospective law school students to find a book about the experience and just read it. I remember reading this book—I think it was called “Surviving Law School” or something—and it was a bit ridiculous, but you have to keep in mind that law school is going to be very different from your undergrad experience. It’s full of other really driven people, most of which are Type A personalities. Definitely be prepared to be challenged. Your first year will be the hardest. And it will get easier: After the first semester of your 2L year, it’s all downhill until you study for the bar exam.
I’d also tell prospective students to really find out about the various programs schools have to offer. I think that it’s most important to find a good fit for you, and if it’s a great school but they don’t have a clinical program you really want to go through, you shouldn’t go there.
I’m so grateful to have my mom’s support while I’m starting this crazy adventure on my own. It’s meant the world. She’s a single mom, and it’s just me and her. This sounds so pessimistic, but my mom has told me since I was little that life’s not fair, and I believe that. Life’s not fair. Bad things can happen, good things can happen, things don’t happen when you want them to, but just accepting that life isn’t going to go your way has really helped me through the rough times.
I’ll be gender-biased here: I also have some really great female friends. They’re all so headstrong and strong-willed. Watching them go after their dreams just challenges me to do the same.