Paralegal Studies, NashvilleAlethia
“I did two years of a regular four-year school. So I’ve had that experience. I had actually always wanted to be an attorney. But when we moved to Nashville, I did a lot of research first, and it showed that it was super expensive to get into and that the market here was saturated.
I came from a banking background, an extensive one. I started out in New York working at a bank on Long Island, and I moved into Queens and worked for a bank out there for a little while in compliance. When I moved back to New Hampshire, which is where I am from, I worked at a bank in Vermont. There was a law firm upstairs and they wanted one person to handle all of their estate accounts. I just happened to be the person they picked, and we developed a relationship. It’s always nagged at me that this is something that I’ve wanted to do. When I started working there I was still new, and I still didn’t really know how to do everything. They really took me under their wing.
I graduated in 2013 with an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. I actually got a job about six months before I graduated and later moved on to my current position. I do insurance defense, car accidents, house fires, floods, that type of thing. I just had a baby, so I am going to stay home through the summer with him. He has some GI issues, and it’s scary to put someone in daycare like that.
“The fact that I got hired before I graduated was pretty cool.”
I started out as a day student and eventually had to get a day job at a bank. That was a struggle for me. Learning how to balance, then working five days a week and transitioning to the night program. So I was working five days a week, going to class four nights a week until 9:30 p.m. So that was probably my biggest challenge; learning how to balance, do homework, asking the questions that I didn’t think of in class.
I chose Brightwood for a couple of different reasons. I wanted an ABA-approved program. That was important to me. I had looked through some job listings online before moving here, and most of the things that I saw would say degree required in paralegal studies or a certificate from an ABA-approved program. I did the degree program, which was approved, and that was important to me because that’s how I was going to eventually get a job.
“Not everybody comes right out of high school and goes to college.”
Everybody was awesome, and encouraging, and positive, and helpful. Not everybody comes right out of high school and goes to college. Not everybody has been in school the last 10 years even before they come here. It was a very welcoming environment, and no one was scared to ask a question. I really loved the small class size because it was a much more intimate environment where you could talk more and learn a bunch of stuff from other people.
I was one of the founding members of the National Honor Society. I am really proud of that. I was also an ambassador, which I loved because I wanted to make other people feel comfortable and show them that it’s not scary and that people are great there. The fact that I got hired before I graduated was pretty cool. I mean, a lot of that is that the school has a great reputation, the program has a great reputation, and the teachers who are still working in the field have a great reputation.
A lot of my teachers at Brightwood inspired me and still do. Probably my favorite teachers there were paralegals first and then attorneys. They just know how to speak paralegal. Sometimes an attorney teacher who may not have that experience speaks to you like an attorney and you kind of have a class full of people going like, ‘What?’ A lot of them hold full-time jobs and teach part-time and have families, and somehow they make it work. And that’s inspiring.”