Approved Paralegal Program Graduate Success Stories

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August 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of the American Bar Association Paralegal Program Approval Process. Through application of the Guidelines for the Approval of Paralegal Education Programs, approved programs have demonstrated their high quality education to the lawyers and paralegals in their legal communities. Working together, we have promoted the role of the paralegal as vital members of the legal services delivery team. Read graduates’ success stories below.

Michael R. Pelletier

2006 Graduate of Anne Arundel Community College Paralegal Program, Arnold, MD

 

"In the spring of 2000, I worked as a Legal Clerk in a Marine Corps Infantry Battalion. This experience fueled my desire to seek a career in the law.  When I fulfilled my military commitment I had a choice to make – re-enlist or pursue my civilian career goals. It was a tough choice but I chose the latter. What I discovered pretty quickly was that there were not many doors open for a veteran in the legal field without a formal legal education. Luckily, I came across the Paralegal Studies program at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC).

 

I decided to take a chance and enrolled with the college. At the same time, I amended my resume to reflect my new student status. Within days of amending my student status, I got a call back from a local attorney for an interview as an administrative assistant. I got the job! I worked for his small law firm for a total of eight years handling a wide variety of cases. Although I started off as an administrative assistant, the additional skills and knowledge I obtained as a result of my education allowed my salary and position in the firm to grow. In short order I was promoted to a paralegal. I was told by my attorney that, at the time I obtained my degree, I was performing at the level he would have expected of an associate attorney. At the end of eight years I left the firm as a devoted friend and trusted paralegal. 

 

I would not have gotten my 'foot in the door' without AACC’s reputation. In addition, this program taught me so much about performing legal research, civil procedure, legal analysis, rules of evidence, trial preparation and trial assistance. It was the experience I gained from my work and the education obtained at AACC that opened the door for my current position as a Litigation Paralegal with the Anne Arundel County Attorney Office of Law. The County Attorney at the time had a lot of respect for my previous attorney, but I suspect (given the number of AACC graduates employed by County) he had even more respect for the caliber and competency of the paralegals that AACC produces. At this stage in my career, I look back to that moment when I decided to leave the military and pursue a career in the law. AACC helped me gain the pride of both public service and meet my civilian career goals. In the end, I got them both."

 

Michael R. Pelletier was born and raised in Anne Arundel County. He earned an Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies from Anne Arundel Community College in 2006 with a GPA of 3.956 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Jurisprudence from the University of Baltimore with a GPA of 3.956. He currently participates as a Panel Speaker at the Anne Arundel Community College Paralegal Forum held each October and serves on the college’s Paralegal Advisory Committee.


Rosalee Hurn

2009 Graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania Paralegal Studies Program, Clarion, PA

 

Rosalee Hurn is the paralegal/office manager for the Pennsylvania State University Student Legal Services. The Student Legal Service office at University Park, Pennsylvania provides free consultation and representation to the students of Penn State's main campus.

 

Rosalee attended Clarion University of Pennsylvania, where she received her AS in paralegal studies, and a BS in Marketing. During her studies, she was an active member of the student body, serving as a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, Advertising Committee for American Marketing Association and Public Relations Committee for Eyrie Magazine. Furthermore, she was a member of the Speech and Debate Team, where she was trained in persuasive speaking and sound presentation. During her debate career, she advanced to elimination rounds at the Liberty and Richmond University Debate Tournaments. While at Clarion, Rosalee obtained a paralegal internship through Attorney Ray Scott of Clarion, Pennsylvania. Additionally, she completed a marketing internship at the Clarion Hospital to support the marketing foundation of her undergraduate degree. 

 

Following graduation, Rosalee accepted a paralegal position at The Travis Law Firm in Edinboro, PA, where she assisted with all criminal and social security disability cases. After three years at The Travis Law Firm, Rosalee was extended a paralegal/office manager position for Penn State Student Legal Services. She is responsible for facilitating the completion of case-related tasks and manages the department’s financial expenses. Within her first year of employment, she was appointed Co-Chair for Penn State Young Professionals, which is comprised of 408 members. To advance and benefit the organization, Rosalee organizes social events and professional development opportunities. While she continues her career at the Pennsylvania State University, Rosalee is also a graduate student in the Masters of Public Administration program through the Penn State World Campus. She is scheduled to graduate in the spring of 2017, and hopes to become a notable civil servant; one that is known for altruistic works and bettering the community she serves. We are very proud at Clarion University of Rosalee's accomplishments.


Mallory Mohring Mojarro

2011 Graduate of the College of DuPage Paralegal Studies Program, Glen Ellyn, IL

 

Mallory is the perfect representative of COD’s Paralegal Studies program and a perfect success story. We started offering Paralegal Studies classes in the Fall of 2008, and Mallory enrolled in our first Introduction to Paralegal Studies class that semester. Mallory was only 18 years old at the time, and, although she was much younger than a majority of our students, she thrived in our program, even though her high school preparation had some gaps due to frequent moves. While attending COD’s evolving program, she volunteered to take on additional assignments to improve classroom resources, including creating a list of helpful websites for paralegal students. This list was so useful that the COD reference librarian decided to add it to the COD library website so that all paralegal studies students could benefit from it.

 

Seeing her talent, drive, and creativity, when I was given the opportunity to hire my first student worker, Mallory was who I picked, and I was so glad I did. She was the perfect partner to work with as I created curriculum, recruited faculty, designed marketing literature, and so on. On her own initiative, Mallory wrote a handbook to give to site mentors of our paralegal interns explaining our internship program. She also wrote a “Guide for New Students”, a handbook to help incoming Paralegal Studies students navigate through the program. Mallory also started our Paralegal Studies Facebook page and our LinkedIn Student and Graduate groups. Mallory attended every Paralegal Studies Advisory Council meeting and Faculty meeting and prepared detailed minutes. But, most significantly, Mallory worked side-by-side with me when we were preparing our application for ABA approval. This included interviewing many administrators and faculty for information about budgets and enrollment, late night report-writing and email exchanges, as well as leading the charge when the ABA site team came to review our program to see if we qualified for ABA initial approval of our program. And, in my opinion, thanks in large part to Mallory’s efforts, COD’s Paralegal Studies program was approved by the ABA in August, 2010.

 

Since graduating, Mallory has continued to support COD’s program by coordinating our Paralegal Portfolio Expo (mock job fair) each semester, attending paralegal alumni events, and serving on our Paralegal Studies Advisory Council. Mallory even coordinated the Portfolio Expo last April 2015, three days before her wedding!

 

Since graduating, Mallory has held two responsible positions as a paralegal, where she uses the skills she learned in our program to handle a challenging workload and support multiple attorneys.

 

Mallory also supports our program by staying in touch with many graduates, and letting me know about news in the legal community of interest to our program and our students.

 

We couldn’t ask for a more loyal, dedicated, smart, responsible, and energetic program graduate, who also has a terrific sense of humor and is a lot of fun to spend time with. We are pleased and proud to present Mallory Mohring Mojarro as our College of DuPage Paralegal Studies Program Student Success Story.


Nina Miles Lane

1998 Graduate of Community College of Pennsylvania Paralegal Studies Program, Philadelphia, PA

 

Nina Miles Lane’s journey to the paralegal profession began when she enrolled in Community College of Philadelphia as a single mother of four children with a high school diploma earned a decade earlier. Mrs. Lane excelled in her studies earning a perfect 4.0, co-founded the Paralegal Student Association and served as Secretary for the Student Government Association. Her achievements led to a summa cum laude degree and to her selection as one of two graduation speakers. Her many accomplishments also led to her hire as a paralegal at Cozen and O’Connor, a major Philadelphia law firm, several months before graduation.

 

As her career has progressed, Mrs. Lane has continued to excel, earning a four-year degree in Organizational Management and a Master’s degree magna cum laude in Nonprofit Management from Eastern University, where, along with her coauthors, she was awarded the Distinguished Applied Research Project Award. While serving in Executive Administrative and Paralegal positions with several prestigious law firms, Fortune 500 and Nonprofit organizations, Mrs. Lane fine-tuned her development, drafting, implementation, compliance and training skills. Mrs. Lane has been sought out by both peers and management to develop employment policies and procedures, including peer training in standard operating procedures, assistance with development of corporate governance education materials and presentations, as well as for consultation on developing strategies to encourage diversity, promote group morale and achieve customer service goals.

 

Two years ago, Mrs. Lane returned to the Community College of Philadelphia and is utilizing her paralegal and organizational skills to support the Fox Rothschild Center for Law and Society. In that capacity in 2015, she was a recipient of the League of Innovation Award for her role in the creation of the Expungement Service Learning project, which trains paralegal students to assist others under attorney supervision. She is also passionate about mentoring and reentry issues and serves as a mentor for the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania Criminal Court MENTOR Project and has presented at national conferences on mentoring and recidivism.


Dane Lupson

2012 Graduate of Cuyahoga Community College Paralegal Program, Parma, OH

 

Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. I lost a great job in media production during the financial crisis in 2008, and it took me six months to find employment again. I had been married for less than a year and we were trying to start a family. As was the case for so many who lost so much during the economic downturn, I accepted a job offer that I would not have otherwise taken just to earn a paycheck. Over the course of the next three years, I endeavored to find new employment opportunities which would allow me to utilize my diverse skill set, only to be confronted by a field of over-qualified candidates competing for entry-level wages. To get where I wanted to be professionally and personally, I needed to pursue a career, and not a “job”. With the support of my wife, I decided to alter an abysmal career trajectory and enroll in the Paralegal Studies program at Cuyahoga Community College (“Tri-C”). Already in possession of an undergraduate degree from Ohio University, the program’s one year certificate track was ideal in that it would allow me to work at my own pace while leveraging previous academic experience. I could work, study, and still have time for my family. It was the best decision of my professional life.

 

The Paralegal Studies program at Tri-C is an excellent tool for forging a career path in the legal field. Engaging and knowledgeable instructors who not only taught, but brought real-world experience into the classroom environment is something I had never before encountered in academia. The wide array of subjects and ancillary areas of study afford each student the opportunity to pursue a specific, targeted career path in the legal field, while exposing the students to the rigors and expectations of the legal profession via the mandatory practicum near the program’s conclusion. I was fortunate enough to be placed at Forest City Enterprises for my practicum, having previously expressed an interest in corporate law. The scope and expanse of the work being done in Forest City’s in-house legal department was both daunting and intimidating, but learning about the company while surrounded by a staff of dedicated, competent, and engaging professionals made the experience memorable and fulfilling. It also enabled me to display the skills I had honed while in the Paralegal Studies program at Tri-C, which led to a transition to full-time employment with Forest City upon the completion of the practicum requirements.

 

Part of what makes working at Forest City so special is the environment that is cultivated to allow employees to succeed. I have been fortunate enough to assume multiple roles and responsibilities and have finally felt the professional and personal fulfillment I had sought for so long.

 

And I have enjoyed every single minute of it.


Donna F. McCurley

1994 Graduate of Gadsden State Community College Paralegal Program, Gadsden, AL


The short version is I graduated from high school in 1972 and waited twenty years to complete an associate degree in paralegal studies at Gadsden State Community College. The detailed version includes marriage, raising two sons and a career in restaurant management. Long hours and physical demands of restaurant work led me to re-examine an interest in the law. Believing I was too old, too poor and not quite intelligent enough for the rigors of law school, I was intrigued by the new paralegal program offered by Gadsden State. I began taking courses while working full-time. Unfortunately, out-of-town assignments forced me to drop several semesters. As I inched close to the end of course of study, I accepted a local restaurant position with a guarantee of being able to finish classes. Graduation was exhilarating. Going from a management position to that first day in a law office was terrifying.

 

After interviewing with only one firm, I accepted a paralegal position with a Birmingham firm that specialized in employment cases. The opportunity to participate in development of a case from the initial client meeting, through discovery, and finally through trial was exciting. Assisting clients regain their dignity was even better. To apply concepts learned in class to actual people involved in real cases made me appreciate the value of our legal system. I was fortunate that my supervising attorney encouraged me and actively sought my input. After six months, he said it was time to return to school. I first thought he meant I needed more training as a paralegal, but he explained I should pursue my law degree. With his support and financial assistance from the firm, I completed my bachelor degree in political science in less than two years. When I began law school, I was intimidated by my young, bright classmates. Then I realized how much I had learned as a paralegal about the realities of how the law worked. The basics from my paralegal classes built a strong foundation for law school. I continued to work for the firm during law school. The days of interviewing, drafting, and trial preparation reinforced the concepts from class.

 

Upon graduation and passing the bar exam (December 1999) I practiced law in Birmingham and Gadsden for several years. I approached Gadsden State about teaching as an adjunct in the paralegal program in 2000. I knew from experience how valuable the program was and how it could change a person’s life. It is magical to see a student grasp a difficult concept or draft an effective brief. To see their confidence grow made mine grow also. In August 2004, I applied for the position of Coordinator of the Paralegal Program at Gadsden State. Shortly after taking over the program, we had our ABA site visit. During the period of time covered by the visit, the program had three different directors. A new director’s first site visit can be a terrifying adventure. I greeted the team upon their arrival with very little sleep and many misgivings. They were kind and encouraging. They gave me so many ideas on how to organize the information, motivate students and improve the program. By the time the next site visit rolled around, I felt confident and prepared.

 

Meeting ABA guidelines for a paralegal program can be a challenge. However, I believe the guidelines helped me be a more effective administrator, teacher, and offer a better program.  When asked to serve on two site visits, I happily agreed. Helping others improving their programs was a benefit to Gadsden State. I returned with new ideas and refreshed. The opportunity to serve on site visits motivated me to work harder on our program. The exchange of ideas through conferences and site visits kept the program current and interesting. I served on the Alabama State Post-Secondary Curriculum Committee for two years. Working with other paralegal instructors updating course descriptions and the paralegal curriculum emphasized the importance of adapting the program to the changing needs of the community and students. When I left Gadsden State in 2013, I believed my association with paralegals had ended. I accepted a position as Case Manager with the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit in Key West and again had the pleasure of working with intelligent, effective paralegals. My career took me full circle and back again.


Maricella Rodriguez

2013 Graduate of Grand Valley State University Legal Studies Program, Allendale, MI


Maricella Rodriguez knows the meaning of both hard work and giving to others. Rodriguez, a 2013 graduate of Grand Valley State University’s ABA-approved Legal Studies Program, is currently employed as a Legal Assistant at the law firm of Hackney Grover in Grandville, Michigan. There she works closely with attorneys on insurance defense litigation and other legal matters. In addition to her “day job,” Rodriguez is enrolled as a law student at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She expects to complete her degree within the next year and to pursue her goal of becoming a family law attorney.

 

In spite of her busy schedule, Rodriguez consistently makes time to give to others. While at Grand Valley, Rodriguez volunteered for several semesters at the Kent County Legal Assistance Center (KCLAC), an organization that assists pro se patrons who are unable to afford legal services. Working at the KCLAC inspired Rodriguez to continue a career in law and ultimately to enroll in law school. She noted that, “The Legal Assistance Center, to many of our patrons, is their only resource and it gives me great satisfaction to provide them with our services and to make a positive difference in their lives.”  While at Grand Valley, Rodriguez also volunteered her time at an Immigration Clinic assisting residents with green cards with completing applications to become U. S. Citizens. This work was especially meaningful for Rodriguez, because her own grandfather, who had been born in Mexico, became a U.S. citizen in 1988. After working at the clinic she commented, “I felt as though I was able to provide non-citizens the opportunity to share the same freedom I was born with.”

 

Rodriguez has also maintained close ties with her alma mater, Grand Valley. She has reached out to share information about opportunities at her firm with current students. Recently, she participated in a panel with other Grand Valley Legal Studies alumni who spoke to current students about their work and careers. Rodriguez’s success can be attributed not only to her strong academic preparation, but also her hard work and her passion for helping others. She joins other Grand Valley graduates who are making a positive impact in the legal profession and within their communities.


Maria Brailsford

2007 Graduate of Greenville Technical College Paralegal Program, Greenville, SC

 

Story reprinted with permission of the Greenville News.

 

"I remember the day I entered a college classroom. The year was 2000. Filled with excitement and self doubt, I had trouble sleeping the night before.

It had been several years since I graduated from high school and picked up a book; I was a new mom, having just given birth to twin boys; and I was the first person in my family to attend college. Despite my doubts, I took that first step that ultimately changed my life.

I had spent a few years studying part time, having another son, and working full time before finding the Greenville Technical College (GTC) Paralegal Program and enrolling full time. I lost my timidity as I became comfortable on a college campus.

The dedicated professors helped me develop the skills I would need to enter the legal field and to succeed in life. I received my associate degree in 2007. I worked for some great law firms in the Greenville area and was a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem.

I was encouraged by my professors at GTC to become a Nationally Certified Paralegal. After passing the rigorous test, I moved to Hawaii and worked at one of the top law firms in the state, engaged in civil litigation for high-profile entertainment clients and large corporations.

My duties as a paralegal included drafting pleadings and response documents, summarizing discovery, and communicating with clients on the status of their cases. As I continued to work closely with the partners of the firm, I decided that I wanted to change roles and be the attorney.

So I earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Memphis and then moved to Florida, where I will begin my third year at Florida Coastal School of Law this fall. As I complete law school, I will simultaneously earn a master’s degree in Public Policy from Jacksonville University.

Thanks to the foundation provided at GTC and the encouragement I received, I was able to excel in law school. It is humbling to look back at the first tentative steps and now see that I am in the top tier of my law school class, serve on the Honor Board for Moot Court — nationally ranked No. 1, was named a managing editor for the Public Research Bureau, and elected as the Symposium and Submissions editor for Law Review. I am currently interning as a law clerk for the Honorable Waddell Wallace.

After law school, I hope to work for the State Attorney’s Office. My sons, now teenagers, don’t remember a time when I wasn’t balancing work, family and education. They have seen me struggle a few times along the way, but they know that my mantra is to never give up, and when I finish law school at the age of 37, I’ll have finalized a dream that began many years before.

My educational path means that my children see college as the normal thing to do after high school — a next step and not an option. Since my enrollment at Greenville Technical College, my sisters have both graduated from college. So, in the course of one generation, we’ve changed our family dynamic forever.

Some first-generation college students feel, as I did, a little timid when they arrive on campus. They wonder whether they’ll fit in and whether they’re worthy. I wouldn’t change a thing about the path I took, but I wish I could tell my younger self to jump in with both feet right away and get the journey started.

When I was growing up, my parents encouraged me to attend college, but they weren’t familiar with the classes I would need to take in high school to prepare, the testing that’s required, financial aid terminology and deadlines, and some of the other ins and outs involved. For my children, this will be a very different scenario as I’ll be able to speak from my own experience, and provide the information, support and encouragement they’ll need to know and understand that they can achieve.

Earning an associate degree got me started on this path, and soon, I’ll have earned a total of four degrees. At that point, I plan to concentrate on my career for a while, but eventually, I’m planning to tackle a doctorate degree in political science. My paralegal education served as a stepping-stone, giving me the foundation I needed to graduate from college and to expect more for myself and for the next generation of my family."

Maria F. Brailsford was the first person in her family to attend college. A Greenville Technical College graduate, she will soon complete law school.


Krystyl Wachowski

2012 Graduate of Hilbert College Legal Studies Program, Hamburg, NY

 

When Krystyl Wachowski started her studies at Eric Community College in Williamsville, New York, she was working full-time as a manager for a commercial and residential cleaning company. The supervisory, organizational and interpersonal skills she gleaned there have served her well in her profession. She transferred to Hilbert College’s ABA- approved B.S. degree program in 2009, after a temporary office assistant position at major Buffalo law firm piqued her interest in the paralegal profession.

 

While still a student at Hilbert, she was hired in March 2012 as a long term temporary employee by HSBC Bank USA, at its Buffalo–based Account Opening Center. Many long term temporary employees were hired to assist with the backlog of work. Krystyl’s work was excellent, and she was offered a permanent position at HSBC in KYC Services as a CDD Analyst in October 2012. It is a testament to her professionalism, education and work ethic that she was offered a permanent position from a field of over 100+ temporary employees at HSBC.  Since February 2015, she has been promoted from CDD Analyst to Sr. CDD Analyst where she has several recent Hilbert paralegal graduates on her team.  She assists in training new analysts, assisting the manager in projects, and  testing new releases of computer software for the bank.  She is an example of a paralegal student who “did it all” – working full-time, completing her education, and meeting family obligations.

 

Krystyl believes in giving back to her college. She is currently President of the Hilbert College Alumni Association. Her energy and dedication to Hilbert College inspires others.


Adrianne Watts Haley

2004 Graduate of Kankakee Community College Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies Program, Kankakee, IL

 

When Kankakee Community College began offering paralegal coursework in 2002, the goals were twofold.  First, we sought to earn ABA approval. Second, we sought to develop a program speaking to our mission of enhancing quality of life through learning. Little did we know that Adrianne Watts Haley, Class of 2004, would help us accomplish those goals and impact the caliber and quality of the students who followed.

 

Adrianne expressed in an early essay the ways in which the program “set forth a career that could combine all of my joys:  the love of reading and writing as well as legal interests.” She quickly established herself as a cohort leader, coordinating a study group who gained a reputation for quality, meticulousness, and professionalism. Such was her work that the then-chief judge recruited Adrianne and two others to complete a study of the jury selection process and recommendations for its improvement. The result, a volume that took nine months to complete, made ten recommendations—all of which were adopted by the Circuit without modification. That caliber and quality of student led one faculty member to comment, “This class of students has spoiled us for others who follow.”

 

Adrianne’s work led to a job offer as a courthouse paralegal. The position was created to give Adrianne five years of shadowing the Circuit’s trial court administrator, a 34-year court employee beloved among courthouse personnel. Adrianne has described her subsequent promotion as the saddest one ever earned—because after just five short months, the trial court administrator fell terminally ill and died shortly thereafter. Adrianne’s paralegal skills served her well as she adapted to all facets of this new and challenging position, made only more so by the circumstances she faced. As a testament, Adrianne and her alumni colleagues worked tirelessly to establish a memorial scholarship, raising the $10,000 endowment needed in just six short months. This was just the start of her commitment to KCC as an alumna. Since that time, Adrianne has taken an active role in the program’s Advisory Committee, sitting on committees tasked with drafting every piece of ABA-related documentation since the program’s inception. She created a Regional Recruitment and Retention Subcommittee, which visited surrounding community college districts without an ABA-approved curriculum, to recruit new students and prospective job leads. She participated in supporting incoming students through our Alumni Mentoring Network, recognized by the National Council of Instructional Administrators as a best practice in student retention initiatives, and has earned membership in the KCC chapter of Lambda Epsilon Chi.

 

KCC is proud of the fact that all twelve jurists in this Circuit have been involved with the program as adjunct faculty, internship site providers, or Advisory Board committee members. I have heard each jurist comment that the courthouse would not be the same without the graduates of our program—and the first graduate named is always Adrianne Watts Haley. I hope this testimonial will show her our deep appreciation for her commitment to ABA standards and to our institutional mission.


Anna Cadwell

2014 Graduate of Lakeland Community College Paralegal Studies Program, Kirtland, OH

 

Anna Cadwell, Lakeland Community College Class of 2014 graduate, is currently employed at Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder in Solon, Ohio, a defense law firm with offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Lexington. But before her success, she started out like many other students across the country - working full time while going to school.

But having the right instructors can go a long way in making the process a little smoother. During Cadwell's paralegal studies at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio, her favorite class was research and writing. Her professor, Vanessa Clapp, was always very enthusiastic and brought great knowledge to the subject. Cadwell worked full time while attending night classes which was extremely taxing. But she credits Professor Clapp with always making it something that she would look forward to no matter how tired she was.

 

"My educational experience at Lakeland helped me immensely in my new job field," said Cadwell. "Besides giving me the skills necessary to succeed as a paralegal, I gained valuable connections that were essential to finding a job."

Cadwell forged friendships in the paralegal program which ultimately led her to getting an internship that turned into an amazing opportunity and full-time position. "I could not be happier with the success I have had and would highly recommend paralegal studies to anyone interested in the legal field."


Priscilla Natale

2009 Graduate of Lehigh Carbon Community College Paralegal Studies Program, Schnecksville, PA

 

It takes a student with determination to be able to balance school, work and parenting. If any student fits the phrase “determined,” that student would be Priscilla Natale. She became a mother when she was young. After having three children, decided to pursue the career of her dreams. Priscilla has her degree in paralegal studies and is now working on her law degree. As a high school student, Priscilla always wanted to enter the legal field. However, after graduating, she decided to take a year off from school. In that year, her life changed forever when she became pregnant with and delivered her first child. Priscilla worked full time to provide for her child.

 

Priscilla delivered her third child in 2005. That year, she decided to leave her job and become a stay-at-home mother to care for her three children. Priscilla soon realized if she was going to be out of work for five years, she would re-enter the work force at the bottom rung of the ladder. Being out of the work force allowed Priscilla to chase the college degree she never had the opportunity to pursue. Priscilla soon enrolled at Lehigh Carbon Community College, with the goal of obtaining an associate degree in paralegal studies. Priscilla, feeling she was too old to become a lawyer, thought that becoming a paralegal would be the next best thing. Priscilla excelled as a student at LCCC, but she would soon learn the struggles that she would have to face as a returning adult student.

 

As a mother of three, Priscilla had to juggle family time and her budding college education. On top of that, Priscilla continued to work part time to earn extra money. Managing family time was most difficult. Between work and classes, Priscilla had to adjust her schedule to make time to be present for her family. Nevertheless, Priscilla earned her A.A.S. in paralegal studies from LCCC in 2009, graduating cum laude. She went on to work as a paralegal. Priscilla then graduated cum laude from Cedar Crest College in May 2012, with her B.S. in criminal justice.

 

Priscilla is now completing her juris doctor at Widener University Commonwealth Law School, and is set to graduate in May 2016. However, law school reintroduced the exertions of managing family time while maintaining her job as a paralegal and attending school three nights a week. The task of accommodating work, school and family became more challenging with the arduous workload that law school demands. At one point, her youngest child requested she drop out of school so she can spend more time at home. Always determined, Priscilla refused to do so. She knew that earning her degree would not only benefit her, but would also benefit her family. Ironically, Priscilla thought that she was too old to pursue a law degree. Priscilla has achieved all that she has set out to and more. If there was somebody who could be defined as “determined,” nobody fits the bill better than Priscilla Natale.


Patricia Moore

Future 2016 Graduate of Marist College Paralegal Program, Poughkeepsie, NY

 

Patricia Moore Patricia “Trish” Moore was raised in Woodhaven, Queens, NY where she began her college education at Queens College of the City University of New York studying Liberal Arts, Humanities and Social Science. Her goal of completing her degree and becoming a teacher was put on hold in the early 1990s when she married and moved to Kingston, NY. Her family grew in 1997 when she adopted a son, Billy. Trish was able to put her previous education to use in home schooling her son, as well as volunteering at Grace Community Church in Lake Katrine as Director of a children’s educational program called Hosanna Kids, and coordinating an adult discussion group and the kitchen for vacation bible school. The difficult circumstances surrounding the dissolution of her marriage made her focus, once again, on completing her education.

 

She returned to school at a local community college where she completed an Associate in Arts Degree in Liberal Arts and Humanities. In March of 2015, after much deliberation she enrolled as a full time student in the Marist College ABA approved Paralegal Program. Trish began taking classes at the Marist Fishkill Center, attending classes all day Saturday and Sunday on alternating weekends. Trish took on an internship with the Legal Services of the Hudson Valley from June through October in which she gained valuable knowledge and skills working with an elder law attorney and assisting with the coordination of a Dutchess Partners in Justice event. This experience, along with her drive and determination, has helped her land a full time job as an Estates Paralegal for a local firm, even before completing her paralegal studies program.

 

Trish’s difficult years and demanding schedules have not dampened her spirit. When she earns her Paralegal Certificate in February of 2016, she will have accumulated almost 100 college credits.  She hopes, someday, to continue on at Marist to complete her Bachelor’s Degree. She has been a great example to Billy, who is now also in college studying Graphic Design at SUNY-Ulster, NY.


Rhonda Lee

2004 Graduate of Pellissippi State Community College Paralegal Studies Program, Knoxville, TN

 

Rhonda Lee called me the other day and exclaimed, "I am living my dream!" Rhonda graduated from Pellissippi State's Paralegal Studies program in 2004 and realized her "calling" in the second day of her first paralegal class. She wanted to be a lawyer. Wanting to be a lawyer and becoming a lawyer are two different things. Rhonda grew up in Clinton, TN, her parents never graduated from high school, and she never expected to go to college. After she graduated from high school, she worked as a bank teller and then as a media buyer at an advertising agency. Rhonda got married and for the next nine years was a stay-at-home mom to her six children. When her youngest child was two, Rhonda’s husband asked for a divorce. Her lawyer’s paralegal, a Pellissippi graduate, suggested that Rhonda enroll in Pellissippi’ s paralegal program. Rhonda got no support from her family, but she enrolled and registered for classes. Rhonda’s life changed almost immediately. She fell in love with the study of the law, and she knew by the second class that this was her calling.

 

Throughout her tenure at Pellissippi, Rhonda became involved in the Pellissippi Paralegal Association, serving as President for two terms, and led the club to its highest membership and greatest involvement in history. She called regular meetings and invited lawyers, judges and paralegals as guest speakers, and spearheaded fundraisers and events to raise community service awareness. Rhonda graduated with honors, was inducted into Lambda Epsilon Chi, Who’s Who in American Colleges, and Phi Theta Kappa. After she graduated from Pellissippi State, she enrolled in the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and finished a year of courses, then transferred to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She drove 180 miles a day, three days a week for a year and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies. While a student at Pellissippi State and until she graduated from UTC, Rhonda sold real estate, worked part time as a paralegal with the law firm of Paine, Bickers & Tillman, and was Chief of Security for a private security company at the University of Tennessee during football season.

 

After she graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Rhonda went to work as a paralegal at the U. S. Attorney’s Office, she sold real estate with Shaad Properties, and she worked as paralegal with the Egerton-McAfee law firm. Then, in 2008, Rhonda was admitted to the Nashville School of Law. For the next four years, she drove 300 miles a day, three days a week. During that time, she worked for the Knox County D A’s Office and Special Assistant District Attorney for the Anderson County D A’s Office, and she served as a role model to her five grandchildren! In her second year of law school right before finals, she was diagnosed with Lymphoma Non-Hodgkin’s Cancer in one of her eyes. She underwent surgery and radiation and with over 20 stitches in her eye, she asked the ambulance driver to drive her to the law school to take final exams that semester. Rhonda graduated from law school and passed the Tennessee Bar Exam, and she is a lawyer!

 

She has completed this part of her dream, but according to her, there is so much need and so many ways she can help. Rhonda is a member of the Knoxville, Tennessee, and American Bar Associations, TN Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Barristers in the K.B.A., East TN Lawyers Association of Women, Lymphoma and Leukemia Association, TN Coalition of Cancer Survivors, SNAP, and the National Association of Professional Women. Rhonda was recently presented the 2015 Trial Advocacy Award by the TN Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, "For having the honesty to consider her own advocacy, the courage to learn new trial methods, and the bravery to take her new skills to the courtroom." She was named to the American Inns of Court. Rhonda’s life is devoted to service. In addition to handling a host of cases pro bono, she volunteers with East Tennessee Legal Aid, works with survivors of child sex abuse, and is involved with efforts to abolish the statute of limitations for child sex abuse prosecutions. She helps us at Pellissippi State, volunteering as guest presenter at PPA functions, class speaker, and adjunct instructor. She was named Distinguished Pellissippi Alumni for 2014. She is truly distinguished, and she says it best, "I have so much I want to share -- the journey is spectacular!"


Christine Hansen

1976 Graduate of Roosevelt University Paralegal Studies program, Chicago, IL

 

Christine Hansen entered the paralegal profession in its early years and has been influential in the growth and recognition of Illinois paralegals ever since. She earned her post-baccalaureate certificate from ABA-approved Roosevelt University’s Paralegal Studies Program in 1976 and continues to work in the field. She currently holds the position of Senior Paralegal, for the AT&T Legal Department in Chicago. Christine earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. She became interested in the paralegal profession after reading an article about it while she was still in college. She was attracted to the various responsibilities paralegals had, where paralegals would be employed and the future of the profession. Christine decided the career was a good fit with her degree, skills and interests and she looked into the available paralegal programs. She chose Roosevelt’s program because it required a bachelor’s degree for admittance and was the program nearest to her home. She graduated in December 1976, concentrating in litigation.

 

She began her career with an insurance defense law firm and from there, had an opportunity to work at a large firm on an antitrust case that involved witness preparation, large scale document productions and travel to the client’s offices in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Both experiences gave her a solid background in litigation. She joined AT&T in 1983 where she has had the opportunity to work on cases with employees in the various business units, gaining exposure to a business environment. Early in her career, Christine became an advocate for the profession. She served as a board member of the Illinois Paralegal Association (IPA). She later went on to hold many leadership roles in the IPA, including two terms as Vice President and two terms as President. As the recognition and importance of the role of the paralegal career grew, the Illinois State Bar Association created a subcommittee on the utilization of paralegals. Christine served as the chair of this subcommittee, which authored recommendations to attorneys for the use of Legal Assistants. These recommendations were approved by the ISBA Assembly in 1988. Her advocacy has also reached the national level. She represented the IPA, serving as its secondary and primary delegate to the National Federation of Paralegal Associations from 1984 - 1986.

 

Christine’s passion for the field extends to paralegal education. In 1990, she became a member of Roosevelt’s paralegal program’s advisory committee, a role she continues to hold today. Her experience has been invaluable to the program as it has grown and changed along with the paralegal profession. When asked, what has been most fulfilling about being a paralegal, Christine answered, “the responsibility that I hold, the interesting work, the variety of assignments, and being part of a team while still being able to have individual recognition for my role.” Roosevelt University would like to take this opportunity to recognize Christine for her dedication to her work, her profession and to paralegal education. We are proud to have her as one of our most distinguished graduates.


Raymond R. Rollan

2011 Graduate of San Francisco State University Paralegal Studies Program, San Francisco, CA

 

Opening New Doors -- My interest in the law has brought me to many unexpected and wonderful places. I graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2009 with a degree in Political Science. In order to figure out if law school was right for me, I enrolled in the San Francisco State (SF State) Paralegal Program in the summer of 2010. While my main intention was to gain knowledge in legal procedure and practice - what I received in the process was more than anything I could have ever hoped for. Through the program, I not only figured out the importance of torts and ethics, but I also made lifelong friends, met amazing professors, interned for an incredible attorney, and more importantly, gained confidence in myself as a legal professional and as a future lawyer.

 

Through the help of Program Director Pat Medina, I obtained an internship at the District Attorney's Office Insurance Fraud department, where I worked with attorneys and investigators in prosecuting worker's compensation and auto fraud for 7 months. I applied classroom theory to actual practice and gained first hand legal experience by creating timelines for case files, accompanying the attorneys to court and judges’ chambers, summarizing depositions, and preparing trial exhibits.

 

While attending the program, I was also actively involved with the San Francisco Paralegal Association (SFPA), serving as the SF State Student Representative. In this capacity, I attended Board meetings, met and talked with students regarding membership, and expressed student concerns to the Board of Directors. Through hard work and dedication, I helped in organizing the very first Student Focused Track at the Annual Paralegal Day and I was also able to help in creating the very first Student Forum Committee of the Association. I successfully leveraged my experience at the District Attorney’s Office and the technical skills I gained from school to land a position as a Junior Intellectual Property Paralegal at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. The solid training which I received at SF State’s Paralegal Program set the foundation for my success as a law student at the University of San Francisco School of Law (USF), where I worked full-time as a paralegal while attending classes at night. While at USF, I practiced the leadership skills I developed at SF State and served as the Vice President of the Student Bar Association, as well as the President of the Pilipino American Law Society. I also had the amazing opportunity of working with two judges as well as the Oakland City Attorney’s Office.  

 

I graduated in December of 2014 and passed the California Bar in May 2015. Currently, I work as an associate attorney at a law firm in Oakland practicing civil litigation defense. I never expected that my decision to enroll in SF State’s Paralegal Program would lead me to where I am today and open the doors that it has. The experience has truly been life changing. I learned that anyone who is willing to open themselves up and work hard while keeping a positive attitude will get where they need to be - whether that goal is finding employment as a paralegal, gaining legal experience, or becoming an attorney. The education and training I received while attending SF State’s Paralegal Program has truly enriched my practice as an attorney. As an attorney, I value and respect the work that our paralegals do in ensuring that cases are handled efficiently and effectively. I am extremely thankful and blessed to have been a part of such a wonderful program with top-notch professors, caring staff, and a supportive community.


Danada Beckwith

2004 Graduate of Sinclair Community College Paralegal Program, Dayton, OH

 

My desire to be in the legal field dates back to grade school; however, life happened and I was unable to give it my all and had to fall back on another talent. I became a Managing Cosmetologist, Instructor, and Certified Hair Restoration Specialist. After developing osteoarthritis in my hip, I was forced to retire after nineteen years in the business. In 2012 at the age of forty, I made the decision to pursue my law degree, beginning the journey as a paralegal. I started that fall with two sons, working three jobs, and tending to a bad hip. I have always expressed a love for the law. I wanted to fight for people that cannot speak for themselves. Next to the birth of my children, I have never desired anything more than to get this degree. My journey as a paralegal was challenged and my life forever changed on January 24, 2013.

 

I had fallen asleep studying when I was awakened by a phone call at 12:23 a.m. to be told my brother had been shot. Knowing nothing more, I packed up some homework and met my mother, sister, and his fiancé at the hospital. Needless to say, my brother was not there. He had been a victim of a double homicide and picked up by the coroner at the scene. Devastated, I did not know what to do; I collapsed on the floor. My second thought was how proud he was of me that I had finally begun this journey. “Lord, what am I going to do?” I spent my 41st birthday planning my brother’s funeral, which I officiated. I had to pull myself together and do this for my children with my brother as my motivation.

 

I had my hip replaced during my last semester at Sinclair. My last four classes were online. On December 13, 2014, I completed my Paralegal degree. There are many thoughts going through my head at this time and it has brought up old hurts. It is also bittersweet as I see how far I have come in my accomplishments. I have proven to myself that I am capable of staying the course and achieving a dream. I now know that I can accomplish everything that I set my mind too. I appreciate who I am as a mother, leader, now Paralegal, and all the other hats I wear. I am an example to my children, and others, that as an adult it is never too late to pursue a dream. I made the Dean’s List the majority of my tenure at Sinclair, received the Estabrook Scholarship, and completed an honors course. I was hired out of my internship at a prestigious law firm. I absolutely love my job! My oldest son is now a sophomore in college and my little one is a freshman in high school. I miss my brother terribly, but I know he would be so proud of his nephews and sister. I know I am.


Melanie Martin

2005 Graduate of Sullivan University Institute for Legal Studies, Louisville, KY


We all have different views of what defines us as being “successful.” Most equate success with money and power. When I was younger, that too framed my definition; but as I matured, my views changed. I believe success is a very personal thing. For me, it is finding the balance between having a career and a family. When I considered the prospect of returning to school after an almost ten year hiatus, I had to wonder what the impact would be on my family and current career. Would I be able to maintain the perfect balance of my existing roles of being a mom, wife, and full-time employee? It had been years since I had been in the classroom, but if history was any indication of what my academic success could be, the odds were definitely in my favor. The true test, however, was whether I could meet the academic demands of a college student again and succeed without disrupting the current status quo of my family life.

 

After attending the University of Louisville in the early 90’s, I accepted a position at a corporation that specialized in subrogation recoveries for health insurance companies. Throughout my nine year tenure, I was urged by several attorneys with whom I worked with to pursue a career in the legal field. The more I heard this, the more interested I became. I researched the role of a paralegal and quickly decided that this would likely be my niche. I reached out to Sullivan University and explored their Paralegal Studies program with any eye towards the benefits for a student of my status. I quickly took my place among the “older crowd” in class and seemingly never skipped a beat at home. Whether it was full-fledged determination on my part, the makings of a great program with good teachers, or even a combination of both, I had accomplished the first step of my success story. I graduated summa cum laude and received the President’s Cup at graduation.

 

Although it took a great deal of sacrifice to accomplish, the most important lesson I hoped to impress upon my boys was how vital it is to further your education and chase after your dreams and goals. Shortly after graduation, I secured my first paralegal position at the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. I remained there for approximately two years before taking a position at a private law firm that primarily handled medical malpractice defense work. It was here that I truly embraced my career path and came to the realization that I had made the right decision. I thrived during this time, soaking in all I could to improve upon the skills first developed at Sullivan. I remained at the firm for approximately 6 ½ years before being offered a newly developed position as the Internal Investigations Manager within Humana’s Law Department. Nearly three years in, I can say, without a doubt, that I am incredibly content with my career and my family life. I am “successful.”


Ashley Klinck

2011 Graduate of University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Paralegal Program, Fort Smith, AR

 

Ashley Klinck first met Professor Lynn Lisk in fall 2006 when she enrolled in an Introduction to Law course at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. She didn’t know it at the time, but the professor she saw as friendly and approachable would soon become one of her closest friends through her time at UAFS, a presence that challenged her, motivated her, and celebrated her successes. Klinck double majored in theater and paralegal studies. Lisk, who was the director of paralegal studies, taught several classes and advised Klinck through the program.

 

“Both Professor Lisk and the program gave me a preview of what to expect. I learned how to write a case brief, conduct legal research, write a memo and even get some experience with trial practice and cross-examination,” she said. “It gave me an advantage over my classmates in law school who hadn’t done anything like this before.” She also bonded with Lisk, both of which shared similar interests outside of law. Klinck visited his office frequently, and their conversations covered everything from comic books to theater. “He was a comic book buff, and I was raised with a dad who was really into comics, and he also studied theater in college,” Klinck said. “We had a lot to talk about.”

 

Even after graduating from UAFS with dual degrees in theater and paralegal studies, Klinck remained close with Lisk. Klinck attended law school at the University of Tulsa, but even with the preparation from the paralegal studies program, Klinck struggled. After graduating from UAFS as an honors student, Klinck was placed in a program with top students from other schools across the nation.

 

“Law school was completely different than my undergraduate studies. It was graded on a very steep curve, and the final exam was the only grade for the vast majority of classes. It was hard to see where I was in the class until it was too late to change anything,” Klinck said. “It was a tough adjustment, because school had always come easily for me.” But every time Klinck faltered, Lisk was there with reassuring words. “He would always give me a lot of encouragement. He even messaged my mom to let her know how proud he was of me,” Klinck said. “He celebrated my successes almost more than I did. He had nothing but good advice.”

 

Klinck persevered and graduated law school in May 2014 and took the bar exam the following July. But she faced another setback when she failed the bar exam by 10 points. Still, she persisted, taking the exam again in February at Lisk’s urging. In April, she found out she passed the test. Later that month, she accepted a position as a public defender with the Tulsa County Public Defender’s office. No one was happier for Klinck than Lisk.

 

“He had been telling everyone in his department that I passed,” Klinck said. But a week after the job offer, a phone call from her mother dampened her excitement. Her mother told Klinck the shocking news – the night before, Lisk had passed away in his sleep. The man who motivated her through adversity, who invested himself in her personal and professional successes, and who surprised her at her college graduation with tickets to a comic convention in Tulsa, was gone.

 

“It was a shock. He was far too young to be gone already,” she said. “His death still affects me, because I want to share my successes at work with him.” And those successes are numerous -- two months ago, Klinck won her first trial as a public defender. “I was heartbroken that I couldn’t tell him about it,” Klinck said. “I can only imagine how he’d have reacted to the news that I’d won my first trial. I’d like to think he would’ve been proud of me.”


Betsy Freeman

2008 Graduate of UC San Diego Extension Paralegal Program, La Jolla, CA

 

Born to an engineer-minded father, my initial career path was to become a chemical engineer. I later announced my declared major was Political Science – and so began the parental discussion about “profitable” skills. It was this debate that led me to reorganize my career goals to enter law, a journey that eventually led to my employment with one of the most successful corporations in the world, Google.

 

When I began to evaluate opportunities, I realized I wanted to find a way to combine both interests and strengths with a valuable skillset that would position me to pursue quality work. After taking legal courses for my political science degree with UC San Diego, I decided law was best. I looked for entry level employment and started part-time as a file clerk at a specialty firm engaged exclusively in immigration law. In just a few short weeks, I was hooked and wanted to learn more about the legal profession. I applied to the ABA approved UC San Diego Extension part-time paralegal certificate program. It was this opportunity that opened up my eyes to the entire world of law and where I gained insight into its various areas of opportunity. The program taught processes that I was not able to learn at my entry level position. The practical instruction format was different from theoretical political science courses and I quickly realized how beneficial “real-world” skills would be for future jobs.

 

Through an internship connection provided by Extension, I was able to work at the district attorney’s office in its Lifer Unit. I was able to see criminal law in action, which to someone who grew up watching “Law & Order,” was amazing. I felt confident that I had gained the “profitable” and “practical” skills that my father warned me about. The paralegal program gave me the balance I desired and connected me to phenomenal opportunities necessary for a successful career in law. Following my education, I worked with Qualcomm where I learned e-Discovery tools, procedures and industry standards. In order to further connect to litigation technologies and the future of law, I reached out to Google and was soon hired as a litigation paralegal. During this exciting time, Google had started innovations to set up an in-house Discovery machine, the same time its technical product development experienced major growth.

 

I now work in the legal investigative support team, where I help process legal requests for data, typically from law enforcement. I manage a team that handles requests from Europe, Middle East and Africa with a goal to balance user data privacy with compliance for civil and criminal investigation surrounding users. Working at Google is a blast. I have learned a lot, including how to independently manage various cases while improving investigative and organizational paralegal skills. My advice for others seeking success is to look at more than what you do daily and instead, learn how the entire system works around you and try to discover better ways to improve them.


Melinda E. Lynn

2013 Graduate of Webster University Legal Studies Program, St. Louis, MO

 


Melinda was a factory worker, and while standing in front of a glue machine, she would watch the office employees walk by, day in and day out, thinking to herself, “They don’t know that I can do what they do.” Some years later, Melinda slid her resume under the office door of a solo practitioner in her home town. Two weeks later, she was a legal secretary. Melinda moved from that solo-practitioner’s office to a large law firm in downtown St. Louis which only had one paralegal at the time. Melinda recalls watching that paralegal, thinking to herself, “They don’t know that I can do what she does.” The years passed by, and Melinda went into business with her husband in a manufacturers’ representative agency selling construction equipment.

 

Twenty-five or so years later, she began her educational path toward a degree, transferring from community college to the Legal Studies Program at Webster University in the summer of 2011. In April, 2013 Melinda applied at a downtown law firm for an entry level litigation paralegal position. During the initial interview, the administrator told Melinda that she was not qualified for the entry level position, but that she was more suited to work for the senior partner. Melinda was called back to interview with the senior partner, and found herself in the position of litigation paralegal to the senior partner at Pitzer Snodgrass, PC.

 

During her time at Webster, there was no challenge from which Melinda backed down. She addressed every aspect of the legal studies program with attention, enthusiasm and interest with a natural intelligence She earned top honors, graduating with a 4.0 grade point average in May, 2013. In an email from Melinda at time of graduation, she expressed the following to the legal studies department head:  “The legal studies program provided me the opportunity to improve my problem solving, analysis, and writing skills in a professional expectation. The thing that happened was that I stopped fighting the process and started using what I had learned. I stopped writing what I 'thought,' and started writing what was real. In the end, it was the challenge of my college experience -- even harder than studying a new language in a foreign country. All I know is that using IRAC, as well as all that I  learned in Ethics, Probate, Civil Litigation, Torts, Criminal Litigation, Real Estate Law, and Contract Law class reinforced everything I was asked to perform as a paralegal. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that we all walk a path that can only be followed if you take the step ahead of you. The question is whether you have the nerve to take that step. I came away from the legal studies program a better person, and a more appreciative person for what my instructors tried to convey. I am humbled, and I want you to know it.”


Maria Gutierrez

2014 Graduate of Wilbur Wright College Paralegal Program, Chicago, IL

 

My name is Maria Gutierrez, and I am a 2014 graduate from Wilbur Wright College’s American Bar Association Approved Paralegal Program in Chicago, Illinois. I am the mother of a beautiful 19-month old baby boy who motivated me to finish the Paralegal Program despite all of my struggles.

 

Overall, I enjoyed the Paralegal Program immensely. My Professors were practicing attorneys and were very knowledgeable and helpful. My classmates were hardworking people and we were very supportive of one another. I worked very hard during my time in the Paralegal Program and it was a great experience. For me, going to school wasn’t easy, but it was my chance to make a better life for myself and my family. In addition to my classes, I worked as a nanny to make ends meet. Working and going to school was difficult but my last two semesters at Wright College were particularly rough. I was experiencing a high risk pregnancy and was forced to go on bed rest towards the end of my coursework. My Wright College Professors were wonderful. They worked with me to enable me to keep up with my coursework online.

 

After the birth of my beautiful son, I had three courses left to finish and returned to school. I completed the program in May, finishing my last year with straight A’s and graduating with Honors and as a member of Phi Theta Kappa. I was very proud of myself. After a short break to care for my son, I decided to start applying for Paralegal positions. I submitted countless applications. It was a stressful process with high and low hopes, but I once again chose to believe in myself and everything I learned at Wright College.

 

In a few months, I landed the ideal job. I am working as a Real Estate Paralegal in property tax appeals. I enjoy what I do, I love the environment of the law firm and all of the attorneys and paralegals are very friendly. I enjoy learning more every day and taking daily walks to the Cook County Building to the Assessor, Treasurer, and Board of Review offices. I love helping clients and I feel competent in my position. Since I love working in the law so much, I have decided to further my education. I am a year away from receiving my Bachelors in Justice and am looking at law schools. I would love to become a Criminal Attorney in the near future. The Wright College Paralegal Program truly changed my life and helped me create a better life for my son.