On top of the mountain. Get it?
So last Wednesday I took my final law school exam and as we speak I am editing the final paragraphs of my Clinical Project. I will be completely and totally finished with everything associated with law school this evening. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my law school experience over the past few weeks and going through the normal graduation associated emotions: happiness at ending, pride in my accomplishment, apprehension about the future, and sadness to see several of my closest buddies moving away.
To be completely honest, law school was really tough for me. My 1L year was by far the most challenging for me in my personal life and it was equally challenging in my academic life. With my chaotic personal life it took me longer to adjust to law school than I wanted to. I’d always been a fantastic, near-perfect student and it was really hard for me not to do well immediately. I was very hard on myself for not being the perfect law student and I felt like I was failing at everything in my life.
Half way though first year I began running and started this blog. I am so thankful that I did. Left Coast Contessa gave me an outlet during 1L and something to focus on outside of school. I got healthier and more confident. I stayed in touch with my amazing support network of friends from undergrad. I was fortunate to have two fantastic summers at fulfilling jobs that I loved with excellent mentors to remind me why I went to law school. I eventually got a handle on classes and discovered that it’s totally acceptable to not be 100% perfect at school.
I think the biggest lesson that law school taught me was not to be so hard on myself. Law school also forced me to explore my identity outside being an overachiever. I’m probably the only person you know to have gone to law school and become more calm and less stressed out. Law school taught me that it’s ok to be an average student. In fact, after law school my ability to do great on an issue spotting examination really won’t matter. Law school confirmed for me that I get the most out of my work when it surrounds social justice. I discovered just how much I love that moment when I’m really able to connect and help someone improve their life.
Law school also taught me how special my undergraduate experience was. Simmons College really is one of a kind. Probably because I went straight from undergrad to law school I was acutely aware of the differences between the two schools. Simmons prepared me for law school because it made me the woman I am today. Simmons gave me self-assurance, confidence and transformed me from a girl into a woman. The friends I made at Simmons carried me though graduate school and were supportive sounding boards. Simmons nurtured me and I cannot imagine going to law school without the experience of Simmons. Frequently while at law school I would think about Simmons and the community there. It will always be special to me and there really is nowhere on earth like it.
Law school has also given me some fantastic friendships that I am very thankful for. I feel like I’ve been through a war with these people and no matter what we will always have that bond. I’ve also had the privilege to sit in classrooms filled with some of the most intelligent people I will ever meet. I am still blown away by my classmates on a routine basis. I feel lucky to be included in the same class as them.
There hasn’t been a day where I drive to school down Sunset Blvd and I don’t pinch myself. Graduating from UCLA Law is very honestly something that I could not have imagined in my wildest fantasy for my life. I remember looking at the prospectus on a bench in the Prudential Center in Boston on a warm June day in 2008 thinking “this is a pipe dream”. I remember driving by entrance to UCLA on Sunset when I was on my first trip to LA in August of 2006 thinking “I want to go to graduate school there”. The privilege of going to UCLA Law has not been lost on me and I would not be here without the teachers and advocates throughout school who made sure I got the help I needed to perform to my full potential. I would not be here without the mentor I had in undergrad who helped me network into internships, assistantships and fellowships. I would not be here without my fantastically supportive parents who literally would have done anything to help me succeed to my full potential. I would likely not be here without the absurd amount of economic and racial privilege that helped me go to superior public school and allowed me to not worry about financials during school (yeah I worked hard but I’m graduating with a specialization in critical race theory- I need to acknowledge that privilege has lead to many of the opportunities I’ve had).
These are the thoughts that I’ve been turning over in my mind over the past few weeks. My family arrives on Thursday. Graduation is on Friday and I cannot wait to walk across the stage, get my hood and become a Juris Doctor. Thank you so much, reader, for following me for the past 2.5 years on this blog. Like I said above, this blog really helped me navigate the waters of law school and it’s nice to know that there were people following along on the journey.