Malasia McClendon, a junior in Political Science at NC State, was invited to attend the 14th Annual National Black Pre-Law Conference and Law Fair at Harvard University in November 2018. She shares her experience at the conference in the interview below.
What led you to your current academic path and how did this conference fit within that?
As a child I always wanted to be a lawyer; I have always felt inclined to speak on what I feel is right and to defend others and serve as a voice to those who find themselves feeling voiceless. During my time in high school, I shadowed an attorney in Monroe, NC who allowed me to attend court with her, and I immediately fell in love. As a result, when it was time to decide what I wanted to study, Political Science seemed to offer me the opportunity to gain more insight on what is going on in the world and the history behind the development of american politics and the justice system.
When I received the invitation from my mentor to attend the 14th Annual National Black Pre-Law Conference at Harvard, I was very excited about the opportunity to travel and to connect with other African American students who shared my aspiration to become an attorney.
By attending this conference I was able to gain insight on the many different professional and academic opportunities that are embedded in obtaining a J.D. and practicing law. It helped to put into perspective what I should be working on currently, what I would like to work on in the future in order to reach my goals.
So, how was the conference?
Overall, the word I would use to describe the conference was motivating. It was one of those experiences where you hear the stories of so many people who were in a similar position as you at some point and have worked very hard to be in the position you aspire to be in. Everyone was very welcoming and ready to serve as a resource to one another.
The parts of the conference that were most significant to me were the portions where law students, attorneys, or people who had attended law school and were applying it in a unique way would share insight on their journey and the path they took to get to where the are. This was significant because it reinforced the idea that everyone’s journey will be different but, regardless of the different paths we will take, there is an opportunity to achieve our goals. Other portions of the conference I found useful were the workshops on developing a personal statement, financing law school, and taking the LSAT. Having the opportunity to hear from individuals who are considered to be experts in those areas and were able to offer useful tips was helpful.
What are some of your takeaways from the conference and how have they influenced your next steps?
One of the major takeaways I received from the conference was that you never know where life may place you, but it is extremely important to continue to work hard for the things that you love. The conference encouraged me to be sure that going to law school was something I really wanted to do and to consider if taking on the responsibility of a legal professional was something that I would love.
This was something that I believe is important for everyone to do at some point in their lives regardless of the profession they are considering because investing all that it takes to be successful in a profession requires a great deal of sacrifice that is only feasible if one loves what they do. Being able to travel outside of North Carolina and discover the opportunities that are available really influenced me to consider seeking opportunities outside of what I am used to and to challenge myself to be better so that I can attend a school that exceeds all of my expectations and can nurture and support me as I seek to obtain my J.D.