The Law Clinic
Brringg!! “Good Morning, This is St. John’s University School of Law Clinics, How may I help you?” These were the words I usually started my day with during the Summer of 2010. The experience bestowed upon me as a work study/student worker in the St. John’s University School of Law Clinics, is one that has influenced my zeal for and mission towards achieving social justice through providing legal assistance to those who are socioeconomically vulnerable.
During this summer season, the St. John’s University School of Law Clinics did not proceed with their usual process of providing callers, who were potential clients, with the opportunity to communicate with the law students due to the fact that the students’ and professors’ work load was, at the time, saturated. As the clinics’ receptionist, I was responsible for receiving the calls of these individuals who were all seeking legal representation/advice. I was normally tasked with the duty of providing references for these individuals; due to our non receptive status at the time.
A common occurrence that I faced was that most callers were low income individuals who were not able to afford legal services for their respective needs, which usually varied vastly. These people were usually referred to the clinic by the court system, carrying with them the optimistic hopes of receiving help for whatever problem they may have faced. Though these facts help to explicate the technical nature of this position, the emotional and interpersonal experience I underwent, reinforced my decision to pursue a career in the field of law and my attempt to grasp social justice. During the first weeks of receiving these calls, I began to receive an unloading of emotional and tragic stories regarding the clients’ life troubles. I was able to utilize the counseling skills of empathy to quell the callers anxieties without promising something that I knew could not be respected
New Student Convocation
Ok, ahhh, a sigh of relief. I was finally able to relax, as I was registered for all my classes, signed up for all the clubs I was interested in, and settled in comfortably as I acclimated myself in my new apartment, my new course, and my new academic community.
St. John’s University, in its usual impressive nature, hosts a grandiose expose of college spirit during the New Student Convocation. This event was an outwardly show of a blessing during new beginning; acting almost as a prelude to the college’s ultimate ceremony, graduation. I was taken aback when I heard the intricacies of St. John’s Marching Band in the historic Carnesecca Arena.
During this event, I was delighted to meet and greet various helpful administrators of the St. John’s Admissions Office who provided me with helpful tips to succeed at this institution. I was also able to socialize with the students who were just as me, excited to be in a new environment. We were all graced with a speech from the charismatic Father Harrington who would enlighten us about the personal initiative and the emphasis on a special perseverance that is required to achieve true intellectual progress.
Though this event was for transfer students, there were also significant amounts of first year student present at this event. Per Father Harrington’s declaration, Welcome St. John’s University Class of 2014, I felt a weird feeling inside. This inner sentiment stemmed from the fact that, although I was a student in the Class of 2011, I had goals of being a part of the St. John’s University School of Law Class of 2014.
This event gave me motivation to immerse myself within both the schools: the undergrad and the school of law which was right there on campus. As I would soon find out, I would be soon integrated into both the academic and professional environments simultaneously of both schools sooner than I could have ever imagined…Who knew what the summer before starting St. John’s University would present in my favor
First Impressions of St. John’s University…
Hmm, decisions, decisions. Once again, I was presented with one of the times in life in which, like a crossroad, I had to choose the direction of my progress. To transfer or not to transfer, that was the question.
St. John’s University, with its academic prestige, extensive social networks and student clubs/organizations, professional opportunities for upward mobility, and overall “suburb within a city” milieu, this decision was not one of much difficulty.
The first time I stepped on the campus, I was utterly amazed. As I walked through the beautifully constructed academic community, I could not believe I was in New York City. The immaculate landscape which seemed to stretch everlastingly into the horizon had a baffling effect on me as I allowed myself to get lost in the campus’ aesthetics. As I admired the architecture of the campus, I was also captivated by another perk of St. John’s; their numerous academic programs and incentives.
As Criminology major coming from Barry University and John Jay College with goals and aspirations of attending law school, St. John’s offering of a BA/JD program immediately sparked my interest. Upon entering St. John’s I made the decision to switch my major to Sociology. For me, this was not much of a transition at all due to Sociology acting almost as an umbrella for Criminology, in fact, a large majority of the courses required for the Criminology major are Sociology courses.
I was also immediately attracted to the plethora of student clubs and organization that St. John’s offered as I inquired about the Sociology club, AKD Sociology Honor Society, committees in Student Government, and the multitude of daily, weekly, and monthly student activities. How could I not instantaneously fall in love with St. John’s University?
Though I was captivated by all St. John’s had to offer, I found myself in a bittersweet moment, as I knew that I was would only be here, as an undergraduate student, for a very short time. The first time I received academic advisement on campus, when I would meet with my own specifically assigned transfer student admissions counselor, Melissa Mirabella, she was extremely impressed and amazed that I could make a decision like transferring, considering the fact that I was basically entering my Senior year as an undergrad. During this meeting, we discuss class scheduling as building a plan for graduating…ON TIME!!
As a senior in college, I felt compelled to take a particular perseverance in registering for the necessary classes, meeting all academic and financial requirements, and planning the post-grad life. Through all this, my academic advisor made herself available at all times her me to discuss and plan my progression. She provided me with advice as to who I need to contact about the extracurricular activities, even imploring me to explore the St. John’s website, as this was this place where I would be to direct access to the executive board members of the clubs. As we continued to discuss these plans, I felt deep feelings of anxiety, excitement, and fear due to me knowing that this was the final stretch. I expected that I would face numerous challenges, obstacles, and impediments to this transfer process, but as I would soon find out, this prejudgment would and did not fulfill itself.