KOKOMO, Ind. — A week of testing the waters of law school confirmed career choices for three future attorneys, shored up confidence in their ability to thrive in its rigorous environment, and established them as serious candidates for admission.
“It’s a dream I am capable of accomplishing,” said Coral Santos. “It was a good experience to see first-hand what law school is like. At first I was overwhelmed, but by the end of the week, I realized I can do this, and this is what I want to do. It gives me hope of succeeding in law school.”
Santos and fellow Indiana University Kokomo students Hayden Rawlins and Bailey Troutman were among 20 students chosen nationwide to participate the prestigious IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law Summer Law & Leadership Academy in Indianapolis.
During the free week-long academy, participants learned about criminal law, intellectual property law, writing skills, negotiations, and civil rights law, among other topics. Professor Frank Sullivan Jr., a former justice on the Indiana Supreme Court, spoke to them about the United States Courts. The week also included meetings with current law school students and recent graduates on the job, as well as participating in a mock trial in a courtroom.
Rawlins decided to apply to law schools immediately after graduating in 2019, rather than waiting a year or two as he had planned, because of his experience. An elementary education major, he’s interested in law for the opportunity it will give him to make a difference in education and environmental science.
“Law school has been in the back of my head for a long time, but this program brought it forward,” Hayden said. “What is so attractive about a law degree is, you can apply it to your passions, and advocate for them.”
Troutman is earning a pre-law minor, along with her major in communication arts. The week solidified her career choice, and she also appreciated the chance to meet law school faculty and present herself as a serious candidate for admission.
“I was interested in getting a taste of what law school is like once I get there, “ she said. “It offered a lot of networking opportunities, to meet the professors and participate in their classes. They got to know you by name.”
As an English major, Coral is prepared for the challenge of learned that law school involves a large amount of reading — and as an English major, she feels prepared for that challenge.
The daughter of a Mexican immigrant mother, she wants to study international law or immigration law, having seen first-hand the difficulties of navigating the legal system to come to the United States. Becoming an attorney will honor the sacrifices her mother has made to give Coral and her sister a better life.
“She could go back to her hometown and live where her family could support her, but she is here because of us,” Coral said. “Going to law school is a way to give her thanks for everything she’s done for me.”
The three IU Kokomo students connected with other future lawyers, and plan to support one another through the law school admissions process. All three said they’ve had help from faculty and other students through their undergraduate experiences.
“I feel supported in every aspect of it,” Hayden said.
Chasity Thompson, assistant dean of the Office of Professional Development at the McKinney School of Law, said students are selected for exemplifying positive character traits and academic qualities.
“Also, we are looking for leaders who will contribute to the program,” she said. “Through the Summer Law & Leadership Academy, the students are afforded the opportunity to start developing critical thinking skills through practical application and networking opportunities.
“My hope is that the students found the program beneficial and that the experience will help them be better prepared to apply to law school and be successful law students, and ultimately successful lawyers.”
In its third year, the Summer Law and Leadership Academy is designed to introduce undergraduate students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to law school, and the career opportunities available with a law degree.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.