Nine years ago, I embarked upon my won “vison quest” of obtaining a Juris Doctor degree. I had become motivated to make a true difference in this world and believed the best way to approach that goal was with a law degree. Suddenly, however, life intervened – with twins! Of course, these bundles of joy rocked my world and law school seemed to be in the rear-view mirror.
By 2016, my twins were 4-years-old and my oldest daughter was heading to college in the fall, so I again began to consider law school. I had my cheerleaders (some people call them mentors) encouraging me to take the leap of faith and apply to a part-time program. I nervously broached the conversation with my manager at work and simultaneously found myself another cheerleader! Now, I had to face possible failure and apply. After I took the LSAT and submitted my application, there was the long wait until I eventually received my acceptance letter from Campbell Law School.
I was admitted to Campbell Law School's Flex program, which allows working professionals to attend class during the day with regular full-time students. Upon my acceptance, I assembled my cheerleaders for a moment of celebration and turned to readying myself for the journey ahead. My leaders at work have been supportive and flexible at every moment to allow me to chase down this dream.
The first step to success is convincing ourselves that we can be successful. Give yourself permission to succeed!
Now that I have completed my 1L year as a part-time law student while working full-time and serving as a mom to three children, I would like to share a few personal realizations:
1. You can never hear a yes if you are too afraid to ask the question.
One of my law professors said it best: “So you have no questions today? Then I suppose you know all the answers.” I was admittedly nervous when I approached my management about pursuing my education and their willingness to be flexible with my work hours. I look back on it and I am not sure why. I suppose asking for help is a hurdle for most employees. My questions were met with overwhelming encouragement to pursue my goals.
2. I can do law school because I am a mom, not in spite of being a mother.
Working moms are underestimated. We spend our days balancing the importance of our jobs with the expectations and needs of our children. We are masters of time management and hold ourselves to a higher standard than anyone else ever could. Also, we understand that sometimes there must be self-sacrifice to get to our desired goal. There have been many days when full-time students, most of whom are much younger than me, ask me how I manage law school, children and work. I explain to these unseasoned souls that when I go home and kiss my children, take them to the playground, or get a big win at work, I forget about the pressures of law school. It’s balance in life that makes for happiness.
3. Self-doubt is a waste of time.
After sharing experiences with other women in law school and in the work place, I have found that we are incredibly guilty of convincing ourselves that we can’t do something. The first step to success is convincing ourselves that we can be successful. Give yourself permission to succeed! Law school has been full of firsts for me: The first time I wrote a legal memo, the first time I had to stand up and be on-call, the first time I took a 4-hour exam, and so on. Make it a personal policy to tell yourself all the ways you will succeed instead of the possibilities of failure. Failure shouldn’t be feared because some of the best lessons in life stem from failure. Don’t shy away from all those wonderful firsts in life for fear of not being perfect.
4. We invest too much stock in the concept of “Talent.”
My experience in going back to school while having a career tells me “talent” is a mythical concept. Success is derived from hard work, preparation, and an unwillingness to yield to failure. Talent didn’t tell me to spend hours preparing for class or days preparing for an exam. It wasn’t talent that got me up at 5:30 a.m. every day to start work. Talent didn’t make me pour my efforts into my job when I was exhausted. Talent certainly isn’t what drove me to be the best working mother and law student I could be by attending as many of my children’s events as possible, or to rushing home from studying to tuck them into bed. In the end, talent is just another word for hard work and dedication.
5. Find your cheerleaders and hold them close.
My department at Public Consulting Group is full of strong and smart women and men. There have been days I have walked into the office looking exhausted (and I was), but their words of encouragement carried me through the day. These same cheerleaders would also offer help at a moment’s notice. Additionally, the other Campbell Law Flex students, who are mostly working parents, are a tight network that looks out for one another and celebrates each small accomplishment. For us, just being in law school is a major success! I also can’t leave out my ladies’ golf group, who sent me messages before every final exam: “You got this!” Finally, there is my husband and sister, who are my biggest cheerleaders of all.
Mysty Blagg is currently a FLEX student at Campbell Law School but will transition to full-time studies in Fall 2019. She has worked as a Healthcare Compliance Investigator while attending school part-time and serving as a mother to her three children. Mysty is interested in a legal career related to healthcare and technology.