“A public defender helped me the most.”
I grew up in North Carolina, one of eight in a low-income family. I also spent time in foster care — an experience that inspired my dream of becoming a public defender.
During my time in the foster care system, it was a public defender who helped me the most. My twin sibling and I lingered in foster care because the state’s system was so backed up. With all the legal challenges mounting, our judge decided that providing us with an attorney would help — and it did. I only saw this person once, and never spoke with them, but after four years of chaos, the public defender just walked into that courtroom and fixed everything so quickly and efficiently. Now, as a junior in college, I have already taken the LSAT, as well as other steps toward attending law school, so that one day I can help others the way that public defender was able to help me.
What made you want to pursue a law degree?
When I was younger, I liked to argue and try to reason my way out of everything. My mom always said that I would be a lawyer, then a judge one day. Aside from my experience in foster care, I am inspired to study law because I have always had an interest in it. I like reading old legal documents and texts. I also love reading Supreme Court cases — breaking down complex legalities and interpreting what they say.
What skills do you think are important for being a successful attorney?
I think having a keen perception of human nature is key — the ability to think like those whose viewpoints differ from yours and put yourself in other people’s shoes. Part of this is knowing your audience and being able to frame an issue in a concise and straightforward way that appeals to them, persuading with facts rather than rhetoric.
Besides becoming a lawyer, what else can you do with a legal education?
A legal education helps you develop the ability to understand highly complex theories, systems, and documents — a skillset that can carry over into almost any career, even if it's not specifically law-related. A solid knowledge of our legal system, understanding how it works and its potential flaws, also provides an important foundation for anyone seeking to enter politics or advocate for change.