1. Do you have children in school?
2. Did you go to public school? If you have children, did/do they?
Prior to my graduate-level studies, I attended public schools. I am a proud graduate of Tokay High School.
Both of my children have attended public and private schools. #1Son spent the first three years in private school and only transferred to public school because a full-time gifted and talented program was established at the neighborhood elementary school. He remained in that program through eighth grade and then attended Middle College High School. High school classes are held on the community college campus and the students take college courses along with their core high school curriculum. No tuition is charged and the books are provided free of charge.
MattieBoo attended the same neighborhood elementary school through sixth grade before transferring to a private junior high school. He is a junior in high school now, attending a private, nondenominational Christian school.
3. Are you currently in school or taking classes?
In my profession, ongoing education is a requirement both on-the-job and, from time-to-time, in a classroom setting.
Over the course of the past year-and-a-half, I have experienced a steep, but fascinating learning curve due to the fact that the focus of my practice changed. I do not write here about the specifics of my work, so will say only that I love my job because I learn many new things every day; am never, ever bored; find most of my colleagues delightful and supportive; and am thoroughly fascinated by the destination to which I travel on business most frequently due to its beautiful setting, history, the people with whom I work there, and the endlessly perplexing factual circumstances underlying the cases I handle.
4. What level of education have you completed?
I hold a Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, in Sacramento. I also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, as well as, from our local community college, an Associate in Arts degree.
5. Do you, or did you have loans out for your (or your children’s) education?
I paid for my education through a combination of full and part-time jobs, and student loans.
6. What are your thoughts on the cost of tuition for colleges and universities?
In California, we have always been very fortunate to have community colleges, as well as a state college and university system. The costs have increased dramatically in recent years, but those schools remain far more affordable than the majority of private colleges and universities.
7. Did school prepare you education-wise for working in the real world?
McGeorge School of Law takes an extremely practical approach to legal education. All topics included in the California State Bar examination are required courses. The school operates many clinics, and offers a number of opportunities for students to augment their studies with “real-world” experiences. I participated in the Moot Court program — I was a finalist in the “Best Brief” competition and one of the “Final Four” oral advocates selected to argue a hypothetical case before a guest panel of three Supreme Court Justices from Montana, New Mexico, and Indiana.
Most valuable was my experience as a Certified Law Clerk, working under the tutelage and supervision of practicing attorneys for three years concurrent with my studies. So, for instance, while studying Civil Procedure, I applied what I was learning as I participated in the litigation of real disputes. The transition from law clerk to attorney was gradual and natural because I was thoroughly prepared to assume increasing levels of responsibility for my own case load.
8. Did school prepare you emotionally for what lay ahead?
My teachers and professors offered some guidance about what to expect after graduation, but the bulk of my preparation came from my own life experiences. I have always worked, beginning with a part-time, after school job when I was a junior in high school. With the exception of a couple of semesters, I always had at least a part-time job while in college. Some of the time, I worked full-time during the day and took a full load of courses in the evening. I recall one semester when I completed 18 units with a 4.0 GPA while working full-time. All I did — literally — was go to work, go to my classes, and study nonstop from Friday night to Monday morning.
When I began law school, I had a two-year-old son. When I graduated, I had two sons aged, respectively, six years and 18 months. Mattie-Boo was born on Saturday morning, but I was in class on Monday night because finals were coming up in about two weeks. In addition to my studies, I worked as many as three part-time jobs: I was a Law Clerk, as well as a church organist/pianist/accompanist, and an accountant via a temporary agency during school breaks.
9. If you were to run a high school, what changes would you make?
The emphasis in high schools today is on excelling academically to the exclusion of experiences that are vital to becoming a well-rounded person. There is far too much academic pressure on high school students and they are losing the chance to be kids. Instead of striving for a GPA in excess of 4.0, I would require students to perform meaningful community service, ensure that the curriculum included music and the arts, and require all students to participate in an extra-curricular activity suited to their interests. The first thing I would eliminate is the Senior Project because it is a complete waste of time and energy. For those students who, like #1Son, are mature and motivated, I would enhance the Middle College High School program because it focuses on the special needs of otherwise ignored groups of young people, i.e., those who will be the first in their family to attend college, as well as those who, like my son, are not interested in a traditional high school experience.