Up next in our graduate series is Kourtney Collins. Let’s congratulate her and be inspired by her story.
Name: Kourtney Collins
Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Alma Mater(s): Houston Baptist University, ‘13; University of Houston Law Center, 18′
Major/ Field of Study: BA Government
Jen: Tell us a little about yourself?
Graduate: I am 26 years old and I live in Houston, TX. I was born in Louisiana and moved to Houston when I was 8 years old, and for the most part, I have lived here since. I was raised by a single mom and I don’t have any siblings. I’m also single with no children. And I love karaoke, reading, and discussing current events and pop culture.
Jen: What degree did you obtain?
Graduate: This month, I obtained a Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) from the University of Houston Law Center
Jen: What inspired you to get this degree?
Graduate: I must have been about 9 years old when I first uttered the words, “I want to be a lawyer” to my mom. My mom was and still is obsessed with legal television series and that is how I was first exposed to this profession. I was inspired by the ability to advocate for people who didn’t have the power or the language to advocate for themselves in court.
Jen: What do you plan to do with your degree? What are your next steps?
Graduate: I plan to pursue a career in civil litigation and I have a particular interest in Labor & Employment Law. At the end of this month, I will begin preparing for the July 2018 Texas Bar Exam. After the exam, I will begin a Public Service fellowship at a federal government agency while awaiting bar results. I will be working in their Labor & Employment division.
Jen: What was the most challenging aspect of obtaining your degree?
Graduate: In addition to struggling with depression and anxiety, maintaining my self-confidence was the most challenging part about law school. For me it was one of those things that always wavered—which, in hindsight, I think is generally normal for most people. We all have days when we feel that we can conquer the world and days when we don’t really want to get out of bed. But I think the added pressure of the competitive nature of law school and dealing with mental illness made it even more of a challenge. Along with therapy and prayer, coming to terms with the fact that though I wasn’t the best at everything, I was great at a lot of things and had a true passion for this profession, are what ultimately sustained me.
Jen: What advice can you give others who wish to pursue this degree?
Graduate: I would say to research and have an open mind about the different paths that are available. Although “Big law” and criminal law are probably the most widely known paths for lawyers, they are not the only paths and certainly not a great fit for everyone. Try different things and find out what you really want to do. Also, if this is your passion, know that there will be days when you absolutely hate law school, but there will also be days when you love it and are reminded of why you couldn’t see yourself doing anything else.
Jen: What advice can you give to the family and friends of those who wish to take this path?
Graduate: 1) Know that for, at least, the first year and during bar prep studying will the #1 priority for your loved one (unless you are a dependent). 2) Know that there will be many times when your loved one just needs to vent and there will be nothing you can say or do to fix it. 3) Know that your loved one cannot give legal advice until they are a licensed attorney so try not to put them in that awkward position where they want to help, but can’t. And 4) Know that, in the end you will be there to witness such a great accomplishment.
Jen: We all know we don’t do it by ourselves. Who was instrumental in helping you achieve your goals and dream?
Graduate: Definitely my mother. She has sacrificed everything for me. Even when I was contemplating forgoing this path, she always reminded me why this was my dream in the first place. I wouldn’t be here if not for her continued moral (and financial) support.
Jen: Any last remarks?
Graduate: Please pray for me, I’m not at the finish line yet! #Almostthere