The Friday before the start of classes, the school held a social event for new students at The Horse, a local pub. I was extremely nervous, to the point that I was sweating profusely. I went to the bathroom to cool myself down, and noticed a girl I thought I recognized doing the same thing. It was Meg Keown, the other transfer student who had come to BC Law with me. I had looked her up on social media the moment we were put on an email thread together.
From the moment we met in person in that bathroom of The Horse, Meg and I became instant best friends. We always joke that we’re so lucky we liked each other, because if not, we wouldn’t have someone to experience all these firsts with. It was nice to have someone in the same boat as me, who understood the particular anxiety and excitement that came with being a new student transferring from another law school.
When I think back to September, the first thing that comes to my mind is sports. It started when I was added to a GroupMe chat called “Section 2 Softball.” Since I attended my 1L year of law school virtually, I did not really think about how sports could play a role in my social life. The people who knew of my short-lived stint on varsity softball in high school (that ended with a mild concussion and a black eye; story for another time) questioned whether it was a good idea for me to join an intramural softball team in law school. Taking another step out of my comfort zone, I decided to go to the games.
The first game I attended, I refused to get off the bench. I was afraid of being the reason we lost. I was afraid of embarrassing myself. I sat quietly, occasionally making small talk with other 2Ls, but mostly keeping to myself. When it was time to go home, I walked back to my apartment with a girl who lived next door to me, Christine Kalpin. To be completely honest, I think if Christine didn’t live in the building next to me, I wouldn’t have made it to any more games.
Every Saturday morning I would get a text from Christine: “Walk to softball together?” This was the push I needed to keep putting myself out there. With time I became more comfortable with the sport, as well as the people. I went from being shy and quiet in the dugout to cheering loudly on the field for a teammate who scored a run.
October was the month where everything clicked into place for me. Being a 2020 graduate and due to pandemic disruptions, my makeshift graduation from Boston College undergrad was held in October. A home football game fell on the weekend of my graduation, which meant that I would be surrounded by my law school friends, my undergrad friends, and my family. That night was so special for me, not only because I was finally celebrating a long overdue milestone, but because all the people who make me happy were there for me and were fitting together perfectly. Weirdly enough, I was more shocked by my law school friends being there to celebrate with me, especially since they only had known me for such a short amount of time. Seeing all these people from different parts of my life come together made me realize how lucky I am, and how I had made such important relationships during my short time at BC Law.
I am a huge fan of The Bachelor franchise. I know what you’re thinking: “What does that have to do with law school?” Well, one Bachelor Monday, the contestants had to play a game of musical chairs, and I thought about how much fun a huge game of BC Law musical chairs would be. I decided that I would use my power as the Law School Association (LSA) Transfer Representative to host a Musical Chairs Tournament at school. So, the next LSA meeting I attended, I announced my event. I don’t know what I expected to come out of this, exactly, but suffice it to say that my expectations were exceeded. Twenty people competed in the tournament, and a good number of spectators were in attendance. At a surface level, it was just a fun event that I got to put on, but it meant so much more to me. It made me realize that even as a transfer student, I could actively make my law school experience what I wanted it to be, and not just passively go through the motions.
Final exams are never the most enjoyable experience. I found myself filled with more anxiety than any other finals period I had endured before. Since I am a transfer student, my 1L GPA and BC Law GPA are completely separate. This means that I went into finals with a blank slate. I felt immense pressure to perform well, having my semester grades out there without any cushion from my previous law school semesters. I had academic success at my previous law school, but I was nervous that it might not be the same at BC Law.
On one of the study days I spent 13 consecutive hours in the library editing my 35-page final paper. I kept printing it out, reading it and making edits over and over. My spot never changed, but the people at my table kept switching up. One of my friends, Javon Davis, who had started the morning with me in the library, texted me in the evening asking if I was still in the same spot. To his surprise, I was. He offered to bring me coffee and snacks, as I spent the last few hours approaching my deadline rereading and rewriting parts of my paper. Acts of kindness like this made me realize that being part of a community that is supportive while also academically rigorous was worth the stress of finals, and it was this support that would carry me through.
Coming back to school after winter break, I didn’t feel as new as I did in August. I already had taken courses with two of my professors the semester before, and my classes were filled with familiar faces. I came back with a sense of confidence and courage. I found myself more willing to participate in class discussions, more proactive in reaching out to others to make plans, and more at home than I previously felt. There’s only one thing I would change: I wish I had a snow day on a day I actually had classes! But that was beyond my control.
The BC Law Ski Trip was the highlight of February. It was a first for everyone in my year, since Covid prevented it from happening the year before. This was exciting to me because it was a first that we could all experience together. The most memorable part of the weekend was being encouraged by my friend group to attempt to snowboard down a green trail that they described as “a longer bunny hill.” For context, I had just spent the day trying to snowboard down the bunny hill without falling. While they might have lied to me about the difficulty level of the trail, my trust in them remains unbroken, as do all of my bones. Everytime I fell, they made sure to pick me back up. They always checked in to see if I was actually hurt, or if it was okay to laugh. They tried to give me confidence in my abilities, until I made the executive decision to call it quits and walk back to the lodge.
The ski trip not only enhanced my already formed friendships, it allowed me to make new ones. Each night of the ski trip everyone would go to the same bar, where dancing and chatter would fill the venue. I really credit this ski weekend for my friendship with John Ferraro, a 3L that I have served with on LSA. Before this ski trip, I never spent time with John off-campus. A weekend away from the library and in different surroundings allowed me to see people in a new light.
By the end of the weekend, John and I had so many inside jokes–and we had formed a tight-knit bond that I will always cherish. John has become a best friend, a big brother, and a mentor. I feel comfortable going to him about anything, from planning outfits and spin class playlists to venting about stressful things and getting advice on academics (I could go on about how great of a person he is, but I’ll stop there).
My takeaways from the ski trip were so many newfound friendships and memories that I hold close. That weekend I was so sore, not just because of all the tumbles I took, but because I was constantly smiling so hard that my face felt tight and laughing so much that my stomach started to hurt.
One of my best friends from undergrad visited me in March, and I dragged him along to a bunch of law school social events. Right before he went home, he told me how happy the weekend made him, seeing me genuinely happy and meeting the amazing group of people I surround myself with. This approval meant a lot to me. It validated to me that I had made the right choice to transfer.
In the beginning of the year, I was missing my friends from my previous school and often felt a little jealous whenever I would see them all together on social media. I wondered when I would get to the point at BC Law when I would feel comfortable and confident in my relationships. While I was already at this point in my social life in March, an outsider-looking-in perspective and reassurance made me realize that taking the leap to come back was worthwhile.
Anyone who knows me also knows that if I’m not in a law school class, I’m probably in a spin class. I always thought about teaching spin, but it wasn’t until my classmate Ben Minerva kept badgering me about when I was going to become certified to teach that I looked into it. During the entirety of this past semester, I trained at the BC gym to become a spin instructor. Part of that training involved me slowly taking over a class, teaching a bit more week by week until I ultimately taught an entire class where I was auditioning to be hired.
Every week when I clipped into the bike, a fellow classmate of mine, Austin Fahnestock, was right there next to me. Austin and I became spin buddies, coordinating times that we were going to class together, holding each other accountable. Austin came every week to my class watching me grow and evolve from student to instructor, and providing support and feedback each time.
When it came time for my audition, I was so nervous that I had butterflies in my stomach. As I watched the bikes in front of me fill up before class, I started to see some familiar faces from the law school. With each law student that walked in, my feelings of anxiousness turned into excitement. Half of that class was filled with people from BC Law. It was the best spin class I taught, and I really credit it to my support system that showed up for me.
While May brings another set of final exams and papers, I am more confident in my capabilities this time around. Looking back at all I have achieved in the past nine months, I can confidently say that BC Law pushed me out of my comfort zone, made me a better student and an overall better person. If you told me in August that I would have made so many meaningful connections and accomplished all that I have while feeling so supported and loved by the BC Law community, I wouldn’t have believed it. I don’t really know what I expected when I came back to Newton in the fall, but if given the chance, I would do it all again.
Melissa Gaglia is a second-year student at BC Law. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.