First Impressions: A Sense of Community and Giving Back

As I have come to learn in my first few weeks at BC Law, you hit the ground running from day one, and you rarely pause to look back. I’m from Florida and never had the chance to visit the Law School as an admitted student, so everything in Newton, from navigating school zone traffic to finding parking (it’s even hard for the professors) was new to me, on top of beginning graduate level work.

It was all a bit overwhelming at first. Luckily, I had support. Lots of it.

I had heard a lot about the unique BC Law community from the moment I stepped on campus. It was first described to me as this unbreakable and supportive mesh that connects the campus administrators and the professors to the students. At Orientation, I constantly heard stories of professors reaching out to alumni to help a job-searching student, or 2Ls and 3Ls sharing their best outlines and advice to the new 1Ls.

At first, I found it a little hard to believe that strangers would be willing to go so far out of their way to help newcomers on campus. And yet, just a few weeks in, I already feel like a part of the BC Law family. One example: my contracts professor, Professor Hillinger, met with me and several other students to welcome us in and introduce herself to us personally in her weekly “High Tea”. Another example: just as I arrived on campus I found out my roommate plans had suddenly fallen through, and I needed to scramble to find someone to share my apartment with to split rent. Everyone from staff to fellow 1Ls jumped to my aid, going out of their way to connect me with resources at the University and with potential students looking for a place too. This was something that pleasantly surprised me. Here was something that wasn’t academically related at all, and yet the community around me came to my aid just when I needed it most. I eventually found a new roommate, and all the help and support made something that was very unsettling and stressful into something much more manageable.

All this helped me feel more comfortable getting involved in extracurricular activities too. Finding a work-life balance has been key so far to enjoying life outside of the classroom. During my off time off from school, I’ve already hung out with classmates exploring Boston and the bars during Bar Review, an example of social events sponsored by BC.

Last weekend I decided to use my time off to join some friends by the Charles River picking up trash. The volunteer effort was one of several community service events put together by BC Law’s Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF). Despite its formal name, PILF is entirely student run, and championed, as always, by the administration on campus. In addition to their volunteer work, PILF raises money for stipends for unpaid public interest law internships for students every summer. Our volunteer effort was the last of a long list of activities that included painting a student center at a local school, volunteering at a youth shelter, and preparing lunch at a local shelter for low income/homeless women. Dean Rougeau was a surprise guest, showing up at one of the other service events to help out.

As for me, I was busy enjoying the beautiful autumn morning on the bike path conversing with my classmates.  I was joined by four other 1Ls, Eli, Osman, Connor, and Daniel; a 2L, Ray; and our 3L leader Madeleine, a member of the PILF Executive Board. As we picked up garbage from the river we talked about our backgrounds before law school, our favorite hobbies, and even told a funny story or two. And yes, we talked about school too. Part of the experience of being a 1L is inheriting all the wisdom and advice from your older peers. It’s a tradition that is fostered by older students and readily accepted by the younger ones. 

Osman (left) and Eli (right) picking up trash from the river.

All in all, the river cleanup was a great bonding experience and proved to be a great respite from the weekend’s homework assignments. So far, my time at BC has been defined by the community that has readily accepted me and has fostered my growth as a law school student. Yes, school is challenging, but it’s all the more manageable when you are doing it together with people who are willing to go through the highs and lows with you. I plan to pay this support I’ve received forward to welcome the next 1L class; after all, that’s how the community is at BC, giving and receiving to those around you.


Ismail “Izzy” Ercan is a first-year student at BC Law and a brand new Impact blogger. He loves hearing from readers: email him at ercani@bc.edu.

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