This blog was authored by Robyn Crawford and originally posted April 17, 2015.
It all began when a few months after beginning high school my parents decided to make the best decision of my life and enroll me in college at 14 years of age. Simultaneously, I began volunteering at a program called Youth Court. Youth Court is a criminal diversion program for juvenile first-time offenders. Fortunately, unlike most, it was through these experiences that I knew from the age of 14 that I wanted to be a lawyer.
A little while later – at 16 years old – just before graduating with my associate’s degree, I spoke with a local attorney who was a Cooley Law School graduate from Michigan and a fellow volunteer at Youth Court. What he told me about WMU-Cooley made such a lasting impression in my mind that it stuck with me for nearly two years while I completed my bachelor’s degree.
The experiences I had in the Youth Court program, in addition to the research I did in my bachelor’s degree, lead me to discover my real passion in the legal field. At just 16 years old, I had my eye set on the prize. I had a dream to become an assistant state attorney with the state of Florida, specifically in the 5th Judicial Circuit where I was born and raised. This goal followed me through the next four years of my education and has remained unchanged.
I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in December shortly after my 18th birthday. I had already begun the hunt for a law school. I was initially drawn to WMU-Cooley because of what I was told by the Cooley graduate nearly two years earlier. But I was even more convinced to go to WMU-Cooley because of the flexible course program and the cordial, hospitable faculty and staff. At last, I truly knew Thomas M. Cooley Law School was for me when I received a personalized thank you card, hand-written by Dionnie Wynter, the Tampa Bay campus director, thanking me for going on an impromptu tour of the school, and for considering Cooley Law School. With that, I chose not to apply anywhere else, and thankfully was accepted.
The journey to where I am today has been filled with right decisions made at the right time. Cooley is no exception. WMU-Cooley was able to keep the ball rolling for my head start in life by admitting me in the spring of 2013; well before any other law school programs began in the fall. It is only with that tremendous jump-start that I am now able to complete my degree in time for the July 2015 Florida Bar Examination.
Best of all, in my final semester as a requirement of graduation, Cooley arranged for me to work as an extern at the State Attorney’s Office in the 5th Judicial Circuit near my hometown. Through the externship, the State Attorney’s Office was able to see how well WMU-Cooley had prepared me to become a lawyer and how Cooley’s specialized electives prepared me specifically for practicing criminal law in Florida. I was asked to go on an interview just nine weeks into the externship. Two weeks later, I got the job! I am now working as a paid Certified Legal Intern at the State Attorney’s Office in the Fifth Judicial Circuit and will likely be hired on as an Assistant State Attorney upon passing the Bar Examination.
Thanks to WMU-Cooley I was able to achieve all of my academic and professional goals, well before most would even believe possible. WMU-Cooley’s practice-ready curriculum did just what it was meant to do and it did it well. Without WMU-Cooley, and their incredibly supportive faculty and staff, their outstanding professors, and their accommodating course programs, I would never be where I am today – hired straight out of law school at 20 years old with my dream job.