Approved Paralegal Program Graduate Success

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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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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”)... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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...." (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)


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... (Read More)