525,600 minutes. Daylights and sunsets and midnights and cups of coffee. I’ve always found that Rent offers a beautiful melodic sampling of ways to conceptualize this fickle thing we call time. But the question, however harmonized, remains: how do you measure a year?
Thinking too long on this subject brings a heavy lump to my throat. It’s been one year. We’ve lost so much and so fast. Tearing apart businesses, families, and entire communities, the pandemic has stripped us of so much of that closeness our society once had: a handshake over a new business agreement, a scorched smile over too hot coffee on the morning commute crammed in a subway car, a visit to see a loved one, a high five with a stranger over a touchdown at the sports bar. We were told to be, for an undetermined amount of time and with no warning, alone. And yet, the very science and expertise unto which we cling to guide us through this madness is debated like the merits of contemporary art by politicians. Some people believe this is a globally orchestrated hoax. Our democracy is still in the ICU. This year has, as a great mentor of mine says, given our entire society a CAT scan. It’s shown our inequities and injustices. It’s shown the unyielding power of the few and the overwhelming lack of access for the many.
At its most basic level, a community is simply defined as a unified body of individuals. Anyone can be part of a community and, in fact, everyone is part of some community. But the power of community doesn’t arise from its mere existence: it’s created through shared values and consistent acts.
Recently, BC Law’s Black Alumni Network (BAN) provided amazing sweaters to students in the BAN mentor program. The creative sweaters happily surprised many students, but the impact didn’t come from the sweater’s creative afro-centric stitching. Rather, the impact arose from the thoughtful, intentional consideration of BAN members.
January 27, 2021 will always hold a special place in my heart. It marks my last first day of school ever! (Well, that’s the plan at least.)
We again find ourselves in hybrid mode, where larger classes are online and most smaller classes are in-person, with social distancing measures in place. We also are starting much later because of the school’s decision to cancel spring break. Needless to say, we have another unconventional semester ahead.
But as we kick off this semester, I wanted to reflect on some of the small things that I took for granted in pre-pandemic times that I hope return to BC Law as soon as possible:
I’m not sure it’s possible to actually prepare for the first year of law school. After I submitted my applications in the Fall of 2019, I concocted all sorts of ideas to prepare and “get an edge”. I started by reading several books including The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, and some excerpts from Law School Confidential. I considered enrolling in prep courses to regain study skills. I’m pretty sure none of these tactics actually helped my GPA or experience (although both books are phenomenal reads).
As I wrote about in a previous blog post Act Like You Belong. Because You Do., the best strategy is to remain confident in your abilities that have propelled you this far. There is a lot of weight put on the competition in law school, which is not helpful. Plus, I’ve found within the BC community, my classmates want everyone to do well, not just themselves. My greatest mindset shift after surviving the first semester is that the only thing I can control is the amount of effort I put towards my studies. I like to think of my job as a law student described by three functions: academic success, professional exposure, and social network. After a semester under my belt, I intend to adjust course in three specific ways that correspond to each of those functions to boost my experience and performance at Boston College.
The travels are over, the holiday decorations are packed up, and Valentine’s Day candy is already on the grocery store shelves. So, is it weird that I feel ready to be back on campus?
If you are anything like me, winter break tends to fly by at some points but at other times feels never-ending. At the beginning of break, I knew I needed to take a few days to do nothing. These “few days” quickly turned into “a lot of days.” I found myself waking up unnecessarily late, last-minute scheduling doctor appointments before heading up to Boston, and realizing I had many more people on my list that I wanted to see while home in DC.
So, it’s safe to say I am ready to get back into some sort of routine. Although I’d be lying if I said I was excited about class readings, I have found that the structure of law school drastically helps me with time-management. Not only am I able to stay on top of my classwork and readings, but I am able to schedule time to do a lot more outside of school, including visiting friends in far-away places.
If you don’t believe me, try writing a paper over a break. It’s amazing how many more times you’ll refresh Instragram, offer to help your parents with grocery shopping, or rewatch a Netflix series you thought you hated. But, as I quickly realized, the paper is not going anywhere.
With that being said, (almost) welcome back to campus BC Law! I’m excited to catch up with classmates, meet new professors, and jump right into the second half of this year, and hope you are, too.
Courtney Ruggeri is a second-year BC Law student who loves to hear from readers. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am happy to host a guest blog today from Vincent Lau, ’97, on why BC Law’s community continues to make it the right choice.
I still remember the very first week when I was a 1L years ago when Dean Avi Soifer both informed and assured us that the Boston College Law School was an extended community. While I haven’t thought too much more about the actual speech until now, his characterization of BC Law was definitely accurate. Looking back at the different stages of my relationship with the school, I couldn’t agree more.
When I was accepted to BC Law I was very excited but also torn. At the time, I was living in California and was offered admission into one of the reputable state schools in California, with an in-state resident tuition price tag. And, having grown up on the East Coast, I wanted to stay longer in California. What convinced me was that all of the BC Law alumni with whom I spoke were very pleased with their education and the experience they received. In fact, they freely shared with me how much they enjoyed their time there. How could I say no?
While attending BC Law has been over 20 years ago, what sticks out in my mind about my experience is the access that I had to my professors. While BC Law attracts some of the brightest legal minds, these are also professors who are dedicated to the learning process and ensuring that they set aside time for their students. I was floored by the attention that I received. This you don’t find in many other places and again emphasizes the sense of community there.
You’ve already decided that law school is your next move. But how do you decide which law school? For me, choosing BC was one of the easiest decisions I ever made. And if you’re wondering why, I’ve summed it up for you in five points:
Last Thursday, the Christian Legal Society (CLS) at BC Law handed out care packages around campus. These packages contained various treats, including candy, gum, Rice Krispies Treats, and a slip of paper with a snippet from a Psalm: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Editor’s Note: Alex Porter will serve as the President of the Boston College Law Students Association for the 2016-17 academic year. Much like his predecessor, Alex embodies the very best qualities that BC Law students have to offer. As a member of the Boston College Law Review alongside him, I know for a fact that as incoming students you will be in very capable hands. Without further ado, I am very pleased to present his welcome letter to the Class of 2019.
President-Elect Alex Porter (second from right) along with three of his classmates.
Congratulations on your admission to Boston College Law School!
This August, you will become the newest (and most celebrated!) members of our truly extraordinary community. It is a community that eschews one-size-fits-all happiness because we choose instead to value the whole person. Here, it matters that you were the captain of your track team in college, or served as an aide to the Secretary of Transportation, or had first-hand knowledge of tort law due to an unfortunate car accident. Here, whether your family came on the Mayflower or whether you just stepped off the plane from Bangalore, your classmates will want to know – and will value – your story. Please understand that this doesn’t mean an easy ride; you will work harder than you ever have in your life, and you will be challenged to achieve more than you thought possible in the classroom and beyond. But you will do it in a supportive, caring environment that lifts you up so we all get there together, rather than tearing you down.
Friendly competition can be a great thing, but cutthroat competition is not, and we won’t stand for that here.