Fresh Starts – Hearing from our incoming 1Ls and transfer students

As we head into the fall 2019 semester, we welcome 12 new students into our Indian Legal Program! Law school can offer the keys to a successful future in law and the beginnings of life-long friendships, according to alumni. But what view do our new students have on starting at the ILP, ASU Law and law school in general? Five of our students shared their thoughts.

ASU Law 2019 Orientation

How have you prepared for law school so far? Have you done any pre-law preparation courses like Pipeline to Law or PLSI?

Vinnie Amato: So I hadn’t heard of either of those programs before this email. Maybe this is because I’m from so far away (I live in Massachusetts and went to school in West Virginia), but more likely it’s because I’m non-native. I read a book that Kate recommended back in the spring, but other than that and my undergraduate courses, I’ve tried to relax this summer.

Hilary Edwards: I recently just attended the Pre-Law Summer Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico! I won the Federal Indian Law book award, and was top of two of my four classes, Federal Indian Law and Property. I also attended the Pipeline to Law program at ASU last summer. 

Taylor Norman: To prepare for law school I’m currently reading “Getting to Maybe” as recommended by ILP and “One L” by Scott Turow. I’ve been busy finishing my MA so I haven’t taken any prep courses, but I intend to make use of the Themis “Early Bird” course so generously gifted by ILP.

Zaine Ristau: In my undergraduate studies I minored in both Philosophy and Political Science in order to improve my reading/writing habits and abilities. Additionally, I have interned on the Hill on the House side and studied at George Washington University as part of the Native American Political Leadership Program. I also worked in sales in order to feel more comfortable speaking in front of people and controlling conversations in order to strengthen my case. Finally, I have taken leadership roles in extra-curriculars from high school through college and my military career in order to feel pressure and understand how to cope and excel with it.

No. I worked in finance as a Business Broker and in Sales after my military career until August 2019 in order to sharpen some of my soft skills that are often overlooked.

Elyse Pendergrass: I have prepared for 1L by reading and listening to as many other students’ advice and experiences as possible. I’ve sought this information out online (Top Law Schools, Reddit, etc.) as well as in person from students I know. Learning about their methods and what worked for them has been a great resource! I also read Getting to Maybe to prepare for “legal thinking” and exam taking.

I have not done any pipeline or pre-law preparation programs.

What are you most excited about in coming to law school?

Vinnie Amato: I’m most excited to be surrounded by peers with similar interests and goals as me. While the school I just got my undergraduate degrees at, West Virginia University, was very large- my majors were very small. Most of my Native American Studies courses were taught by non-natives, and hands-on learning was obviously hard in that part of the country given my interest. I can’t wait to get to know my classmates!

Hilary Edwards: I’m most excited about simply just starting law school and meeting new people! I really enjoyed the Federal Indian Law class I took at PSLI. I’m eager to see what courses really spark an interest!

Taylor Norman: In all honesty, I’m a bit nervous about the Socratic Method but I’m excited to learn and meet new people! 

Zaine Ristau: Being around a variety of views that are held by intelligent/critical thinking people, researching laws and having the wherewithal to be able to fight for the people who haven’t been given the voice/ability to fight for themselves.

Elyse Pendergrass: I am most excited to be challenged in my thinking and get involved in pro bono work.

What are you nervous about?

Vinnie Amato: When I toured the law school with the ILP specifically, it became clear that most people weren’t non-native. I hope I can “gel” well with the people that already make up the ILP and my ten other future 1L classmates, especially given how far away I’m from and the lack of shared experiences that come with that.

Hilary Edwards: I’m most nervous about the workload. It is crazy how significant first semester grades are, and what opportunities are available solely based on them. I want to ensure that if doors are closed, it is because I chose to close them and not my grades or gpa.

Taylor Norman:

Zaine Ristau: I have been out of school since the summer of 2017 as I have deployed with the military and worked in the private sector, because of this I am nervous about getting back into the mindset and schedule of school. ASU is a very good college so I will have to manage my time and workload in order to stay on top of my goals.

Elyse Pendergrass: I am most nervous about exams and the huge transition coming into school.

What are some of your hopes or goals for your first year at ASU Law?

Vinnie Amato: I hope to find true purpose/passion in all the law classes I take, and I hope to find unique, fun, and impactful ways to stay involved in the law school and the law community during my first year.

Hilary Edwards: A goal I have for my first year at ASU law school is to not procrastinate with school work, practice self-care regularly, and do one thing a week that pushes me outside of my comfort zone! My studies are my priority, but I want to also develop better networking skills and experience Arizona! I am from a coastal tribe, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, in Washington State. So, it’ll be a transition to not be surrounded by a body of water!

Taylor Norman: For my first year, I hope to become comfortable with the flow of law school and further develop my interest in the field. 

Zaine Ristau: My main goal is to go into Law School open-minded. I know some people who have gone in with a laser focus on the sort of law they would like to practice and often-times are disappointed to find they have different interests or do not enjoy that particular focus as much as they thought they would. My goal is to identify the best way that I can apply my skills and time in order to make the most meaningful impact in my community. I plan to be involved in a few clubs while still managing to stay on top of my coursework and excel in class. Meet people and research cases that challenge my personal views and force me to think more objectively/critically. Succeed in the classroom and make great relationships with both my professors/law school staff and my peers. Obtain an externship either in DC or in a local Phoenix/Arizona law office where I can work in a field that I have both an ability to excel in and have a deep passion for.

Elyse Pendergrass: My goals for my 1L year are to do well academically, get to know the professors at ASU Law, and make some great friends and memories!

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Miranda Cyr
Communications Aide, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law