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Jane Kim ’22

1) You were a History/Political Science double major at TCNJ.  Can you discuss what made you choose these two majors and what it was like negotiating the requirements at the same time?

In full transparency, I ended up picking up my Political Science major after I dropped the Secondary Education portion of my original major! But I ended up selecting Political Science specifically due to both prior interest and because I thought it would be a cool way to apply lessons from our past (history) to current political sphere (political science), domestically and globally. At the end of the day, our policy choices and ongoing conflicts are not isolated or in a vacuum so being able to have continued education on both our past and present/future provided the depth in education I was seeking.

In terms of balancing the requirements, I never felt like it was hard to meet either major’s requirements. If anything I was struggling with wanting to take more classes! But if I remember correctly, there are certain classes that were allowed to double count for both majors, which helped a lot! I do remember overloading one or two semesters, but again, that was because there were so many classes I wanted to take! At the end of the day, if I had any concerns with the requirements, I remember both Laura and Susan helping IMMENSELY and the department heads Dr. Marino and Dr. Chartock stepping in to help ASAP!

2) Do you feel it was beneficial for you to double major?

 Building off my previous question – absolutely! Between the two majors, there is a lot of synergy I found beneficial. They both reinforce the fundamental skills of, quite frankly, every field, such as critical thinking, analytical skills, and reading/writing. From there, the other major picks up to bolster some skills that the other major not be as strong in. For example, my political science major helped reinforce my skills in more qualitative research skills, such as classes like POL 200 where I learned how to use Stata, which is an app used for statical data analysis. On the flip side, my history major really helped me to build the logical structure of my writing, particularly through classes like the Honors Thesis with Dr. Boero and Modern American History with Dr. Fisher. 

 

3) You participated in a lot of extra curricular activities while you were a student at TCNJ.  Can you talk about what it was like being the student assistant for the men’s basketball team?

 Being the manager for the Men’s Basketball team was something I could never regret! If anything it was a breath of fresh air amidst my academics, research groups, and other e-board commitments on campus! It was definitely a time commitment because you are there to help the team, but the coaching staff headed by Coach Goldsmith is super flexible, understanding, and reasonable! A big part of TCNJ’s strength is the welcoming and accepting community and the basketball team fully reflected those principles! Being able to walk beside them and to see them grow while also being able to be embedded into their fun yet hardworking selves was not only emotionally fulfilling, but also pushed me to reflect the same hardworking nature in my own academics!

 

4) Can you talk about your experiences interning through the Washington Center?

Hands down, the Washington Center was one of the most formative internship experiences I had as an undergraduate student. I do have to note that due to the pandemic, it was remote, so I can’t speak to the residential aspect of the program, which I’ve heard is another huge benefit of the Washington Center. However, my time with the National Legal Aid and Defender Association was hugely formative in solidifying my interest and passion for the public interest sphere of law. I was exposed to the inner workings of legal memo writing, pertinent struggles of marginalized communities during the pandemic, the lack of rights surrounding civil legal aid generally, and even got to write memos that Congressional actors read for their hearings. On top of all that, you get to have a full-time work experience, which not many undergrads can say they have, and are able to say that you understand the intricacies of teamwork within an office. AND as the cherry on top, you get both the networking reach of where you intern and of the Washington Center as a whole.

This is more of a personal note, but the Washington Center worked particularly well for me because I did the program in the spring semester of junior year, which was when I was preparing for the LSATs. So I was able to spend my days working and then the evenings studying for the LSATs at home, which I felt like was particularly helpful because I had tried to study for the LSATs during my fall semester while taking classes, and that was just not productive for me. Plus, my internship was super understanding and let me take off a couple days prior to my actual exam to prepare!

5) You are now attending law school.  We always hear that the first year of law school is quite demanding.  Can you talk about what your experience was like as a 1L student?

 Yup! I am currently a 2L at Washington and Lee University’s School of Law and while the 1L experience is pretty universal amongst law schools, there are of course some intricacies of attending W&L, so please bear with me.

1L year is extremely challenging for a number of reasons. First is that for most people, you’re not only learning to adjust to a new environment – socially, physically, mentally – but you are also learning how to speak this new language of law. No matter how much of a good writer or speaker or reader you are, law school is a new beast and the only way you get law school right of the bat is if you’ve done law school already (which obviously isn’t the case). On top of that, you quickly learn you’re no longer the top of your class, which probably was the hardest part for me, and that puts more emotional strain on your 1L experience. Everyone in law school comes in being the top of their class and/or school and all of sudden, you’re put on a curve where not everyone can be the top anymore. That can be hard for many people, and its normal to struggle with that! Lastly, you come in thinking your skills are up to par with what you’ve been told and that’s NOT THE CASE. You can be the best writer, but legal writing is so different that you have to relearn how to write. You can be the best reader who use to read 30 page articles in an hour but now it takes you an hour to read maybe 10 pages of the casebook. Everything is new and a first for you so of course things are going to be hard.

Up until my first semester of law school, I really struggled with all of the things I mentioned above. It would take me forever to read through my readings and sometimes, the cases would fully just go over my head. But once I found my people/support group who reminded me I was more than a law student, I was able to get back into my routine of doing things outside of law school and became a lot happier, which overall helped me to do better academically! I was able to pick up my hobbies again and talked to my friends more regularly! After that, my 1L experience was great! I was able to take classes to stimulate my intellectual curiosity, I was able to get to know more people and hear their stories/experiences in different fields and areas, which helped me more than sticking my head in books 24/7! Luckily, W&L really helps to remind us to take care our mental and physical health and the community here is so specially that I was able to regain my footing fairly quickly. I actually picked W&L because of how similar it was to TCNJ in terms of class size and the depth of relationships you’re able to have with your peers and professors!

 

6) How did being a History major help prepare you for success in law school?

Being a History major absolutely helped me prepare for my success in law school because it provided me with a strong foundation in key skills, particularly in writing, reading, and analytical skills. By being able to go into law school with well-developed core skills, I definitely did not struggle as hard as I could have. I was able to pick out the logical arguments much quicker in my readings and my strong writing skills helped me to articulate my arguments in a concise and digestible way.

 

7) What are your plans after you graduate?

 As of now, I hope to go into government work post-grad! I’m not sure if that’ll manifest in the prosecutorial role, which is what I have lined up for this coming summer, or if it’ll manifest through government agency work, but the ultimate goal is to either work in the Attorney General’s office or work at the DOJ! 

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