Q&A with Jackie
Why did you choose BU Law?
I was extremely impressed with national rankings that consistently put BU professors at the top of the nation for teaching success, and with the Civil Litigation Program that allows students to work with families and disabled individuals – something I’m particularly interested in after three years as an elementary special education teacher. Ultimately, however, without BU’s generous financial aid award package, I never would have been able to attend. BU’s financial assistance staff was very sensitive to my financial needs, providing me with enough funding to obtain the legal education I wanted.
Who was the first person you told that you were accepted and why?
I was sitting in the school cafeteria during my elementary’s End-of-the-Year Awards Assembly when I got the call that I had been accepted to BU Law. I had already spoken with my students about returning to school, so my kids were the first to learn that I had been accepted at BU. I was supposed to teach math after the assembly, but my students convinced me to show them Boston on Google Maps and get into BU Law’s website so that they could see where I would be going. Once my class got their fill of the website, many students said they hoped to go to BU some day too.
How have students and teachers reacted to your Teach for America experiences?
Most people have been very curious about the challenges I faced and opinions I have about education in this country. I think most people are surprised when I tell them that any success I had in classroom was a direct result of actions I took outside the classroom. I expected parents to participate in their child’s school life, and I was determined to ensure that my special education classroom was deemed as important as my school’s general education classrooms. At a time when it is easy to get bogged down with state testing and administrative rules, I believe people find it hopeful to learn that teachers’ hands are not completely tied and small miracles can be made in a short amount of time – provided you invest the right people in your mission.
Have you found many law students with similar legal interests as you?
BU’s Ed Law Association as provided me with a forum for sharing both my teaching experiences and ideas and suggestions I have for improving education for children across this nation. I am inspired to be around such passionate individuals who so desperately want to see change happen. These individuals have been wonderful in pointing me in the direction of summer opportunities and professionals who share similar interests.
How has your time at law school thus far either reinforced or changed your passion for helping children and their families?
I always felt a need to help children and families, and my short time at BU has reinforced that passion in me. Although I was able to help the students in my classroom, I lacked the knowledge and the skill to help children on a larger scale. The supportive teaching staff and excellent professional opportunities provided by BU make me confident that I will graduate with the tools necessary to help children and families the way I believe they deserve to be helped.
What would be your ideal job after graduating from law school?
Ideally I’d like to work with an advocacy organization that works to increase educational opportunities for children of color, children from low-income families, and children with disabilities. The children I taught over the past three years fit into all three of these categories, and I will never forget how difficult it was to speak with their families and feel so helpless. Quality education should never be a privilege only a fortunate few can benefit from. I would love to work together with families to ensure that their children obtain an excellence education, regardless of their circumstances.
What advice would you give to a future applicant?
Most applicants are probably most worried about their personal statement (after their LSAT score, of course). I would advise future applicants to stay true to their personal experiences and not necessarily hide the mistakes they have made. People aren’t perfect, and life is messy. I have found that the strongest personal and professional connections I’ve made have resulted from talking about my own personal experiences, the mistakes I’ve made, and the steps I took to overcome them. No one expects you to be perfect, but people do like to know you are resourceful, hard-working, and unwilling to settle for less than your highest potential.