WMU-Cooley, as a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. This month’s feature is WMU-Cooley student Derek Grisard, who currently works in Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base as an imagery analyst in the Intelligence Community.
Military rank and title: Technical Sergeant, (E-6), U.S. Air Force, Imagery Analyst
Tell us about your military experience: After working in Arizona as a calibration technician in quality assurance, I moved to the Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. I worked with near real-time video - on drones - while I watched the battle field. My military experience not only helped me hone my strengths, it helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my life by giving me direction, leadership training, and time management skills - skills I use every day.
I enjoyed my over-seas experiences. I was deployed to Qatar for four months and I also worked in Germany. It was amazing. Plus, I met my wife in Germany. We’ve been married for eight years, and I’ve been in the military for nine. It's been a fantastic ride.
Why did you decide to go to law school: Before working in Intelligence, I worked as a calibration technician, and was promoted to Quality Assurance. I reviewed nonconforming items, which meant that I would lead an investigation and follow through on each case. That experience piqued my interest in the law.
But it was my wife's decision to go into nursing school after serving six years in the military that drove my decision to go to law school. I was at a point in my military career where I needed to either re-enlist or do something else. My wife was the one that encouraged me to take the LSAT and fulfill my legal career ambitions. The GI Bill locked the deal.
Why WMU-Cooley: I knew very little about law school and even less about the process, so I started looking online. I thought WMU-Cooley looked great, plus I was originally from Michigan, with a campus near home. It seemed like it would be a treat to be closer to family, despite the winters. Then I read about WMU-Cooley's Tampa Bay campus. My wife, nor I, had been to Tampa before, but it was a location I knew I could continue to serve my country and go to law school. That settled it. We built a home, moved, started law school, a new job, and a new life, all in less than six months.
When I arrived on campus, I was impressed with the professional and knowledgeable professors, and all the friendly people. I could always find a study group or get help from anyone. It's like one huge family. You get close.
We are all doing something very difficult and it brings us all closer together. Just like I always valued the camaraderie and brotherhood in the military, I appreciate that kind of friendship with the WMU-Cooley community.
Career and future goals: I love planning. That’s what I do now. I would like to continue to serve my country, and my hope is to get into a career in national security and defense. What I also like about being in the legal field is that it's more than a job - it's a career. It’s a timeless profession and the cornerstone of society. The law, to me, keeps us from anarchy, really. Just to be a part of that, and to be a part of a legal tradition going back to the start of our country, resonates with me. That’s why I am in law school.
Tell us a little about you: I have an amazing wife and family. We have two kids, 8 and 6, Peyton and Austen. They are so smart. My family really is my support system, and that's important. I’ve learned through my military and law school experiences that if you work and study hard, you will get through it and do well. You have to keep telling yourself that, and make sure you balance your work and life. Make sure you have some down time.
Of course there's not much free time, but we like to relax by the pool and go to the beach. I also love cooking and hosting my mother-in-law (who lives down the street). She tries out my recipes, then we have dinner parties which include some of my creations.