My hometown is technically Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I say technically because I was fortunate enough to spend my early years growing up overseas in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia until I was 9 years old and then Brazzavillle, Congo from ages 9 to 11. My father worked for the FAO branch of the United Nations and so my siblings and I spent the early years of our lives growing up in very different environments than the one we encountered in Lancaster, Pa. As an undergrad, I attended Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa. Upon graduating in 2008, I decided I wanted to enter the work force to continue to develop my independence and acquire experiences which I felt would be beneficial not only to my admission to law school, but also to my development as a young professional.
I participated in several student organizations including BLSA, the International Law Society, and the Sport and Entertainment Law Society. As a member of BLSA, I served on the executive board as a second year law student which gave me a privileged view of the inner workings of the organization but also made me appreciate the amount of teamwork and coordination that goes into making a student-run organization actually run. Being involved with these organizations gave me an appreciation for the various passions that my classmates at Temple Law have and helped me to understand that there exist so many opportunities to use our degrees besides the traditional “big law” route. Seeing classmates and colleagues express their passions through these organizations was refreshing.
I think my most memorable volunteer experience while at Temple came through BLSA. The Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia participates in an annual turkey drive around Thanksgiving and one of the opportunities we had was to help a group of fellow law students, attorneys, and volunteers set up the venue for the actual drive. The venue was a small community center in north Philadelphia, not a glamorous venue by any means. There was no over-the-top publicity or gifts promised to those volunteers who participated and still I was amazed at the number of attorneys and students who took time out of their schedule on a weekday evening to move chairs, lay tarps, arrange tables, and fill out and stuff envelopes. The individuals who participated really cared about their community and it was apparent to me while attending this volunteer activity.
My favorite faculty member was Professor Duncan Hollis, a professor in the International Law Department. Having grown up overseas in various African countries until I was 11 years old, I have always had a love of the international sector. I was fortunate to take several classes with Professor Hollis, an incredibly well-known and accomplished individual in the international forum. His practical method of teaching as well as his visible appreciation for international law, a topic I am quite passionate about, stood out to me as I progressed through law school. Professor Hollis and his family even spent an entire semester abroad with a group of us as we lived and took classes in Tokyo, Japan in the spring of 2013. He was actively engaged in the various field trips and learning experiences in which we participated and was incredibly helpful towards all students, having lived briefly in Tokyo earlier in his career. It was easy to tell that Professor Hollis really wanted each student to get as much as they could out of the experience.
I think my favorite memory from Temple would have to be the opportunity to study abroad in Tokyo, Japan. Having played a varsity sport in undergrad, I was never afforded the opportunity to go abroad for a semester. When I found out Temple had an established campus in Tokyo I jumped at the opportunity to study law in such a different and foreign setting. I learned a lot about the Japanese legal system while also taking doctrinal courses which will help me immediately in my legal career in Philadelphia.
I think the singlemost thing I wish I had known before coming to Temple was how the law school doesn’t fall into the stereotypical “cut-throat” law school box. Before attending law school, I was fortunate enough to talk with many attorneys and law students and the inevitable horror stories I encountered painted law school as a type of academic Hunger Games. My experience at Temple couldn’t have been further from that misconceived notion. I came to Temple with the mindset that it was me against the world, but after a few short weeks I realized that my friends and colleagues were happy to see one another succeed. The stories of books being taken from the library solely to disadvantage the next student never materialized and instead, my experience at Temple was made special by the number of helpful and truly supportive individuals I met during my time there.