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Student Spotlight: Kyle Denman (Class of 2017)

  • Kyle Denman photofreshman Pre-Law student with a major in Political Science
  • from Cincinnati, OH
  • former Youth Mayor of Cincinnati who represented Ohio in the Conference on National Affairs
  • University Academic Scholar
  • Mock Trial Team member

I really love my political science and pre-law courses, but I also like that liberal arts allows me to explore other topics ... You learn to critically analyze different situations that may not just happen in your workplace, but also beyond.closequote

Why Miami?

Mock Trial Team photo"My brother and sister-in-law were both freshmen here, so Miami blood runs throughout my family. Besides that, I have always loved school. Miami's Mock Trial Team, which I joined my very first semester, was also a huge factor for me coming here. I remember reading a newspaper article about the team's accomplishments two years ago, and they're one of the best in the country. That connected with me because I'd done mock trial all throughout high school, loved it, and felt like it was something I wanted to continue at a good school. So when I told my friends in other schools that I made Miami's team, they were all in fear, saying things like, 'Oh, we'd better get ready now!' They'd competed against Miami, so they knew Miami's top-notch.

"The academic programs at Miami are just incredible; there are so many amazing opportunities that I don't feel I could get anywhere else. I'm a University Academic Scholar in the Law and Public Policy Program, and being given an opportunity like that was something I couldn't pass up!"

Transitioning into College Life

"Coming to Miami from an all-male, college prep, Jesuit-run high school in Cincinnati has definitely been a transition. At the same time, though, I've already had so many opportunities thrown at me and so many new experiences in my first semester here—the professors are all great, and I think the transition from high school to college was much easier than I ever expected it would be. I owe that all to the environment in which we live here at Miami, because everyone is so welcoming and inviting. No matter who you are, people here are knowledgeable that we're a family—love and honor, you know? That's something that is really respectable about this place.

"Making the mock trial team was one of the highlights for me. We had to try out, and I prepared a big packet of information and opening statement for them. It's also been great just getting to know some of my professors, especially Maria Vitullo, Elizabeth Zimmerman in the Pre-Law Program and Patrick Haney in the Political Science Department. They've helped me along my career path since I first arrived. This overwhelmed me at first, but thanks to their guidance I think I've already been able to solidify my desire to go to law school and become an attorney. And they've helped me narrow down my choices of which law school to go to and, more importantly, what I need to prepare in order to do that."

Miami and Liberal Arts Education

"I think what honestly sets apart the best students from the rest is being inventive and creative. Students in the cream of the crop have the ability to think and analyze different situations, which is something I think the College of Arts and Science is helping me with tremendously.

"I really love my political science and pre-law courses, but I also like that liberal arts allows me to explore other topics, like my honors film studies class. It's great to watch really good films not just for enjoyment, but also to understand their symbolism and the perspective of the filmmakers—why they did what they did to convey a certain message.

"Everyone at Miami has their own stories, and it's up to each and every single one of us to try to get an inkling of all of those stories. Everyone comes from diverse backgrounds and walks of life here at Miami, which is something that not every student would have gotten a chance to experience at his or her own high school. Getting to know about your community in which you live is a great opportunity, and I hope that everyone takes hold of that opportunity and goes with it."

Being Chosen as a University Academic Scholar

Kyle Denman, Youth Mayor of Cincinnati photo"I have actually been very surprised about how much free time I have so far. Going to a college prep high school was a lot of work, taking AP courses and being involved in my extracurriculars and co-curriculars, Mock Trial, Youth in Government, and so on. I was also the former Youth Mayor of Cincinnati and represented Ohio in the Conference on National Affairs. I advocated for kids with disabilities through a proposed piece of legislation I wrote, Daniel's Proposal, which was named after my friend Daniel who has Down syndrome.

"I used to coach Special Olympics. I love working with all kinds of kids, and I love doing service work and volunteering with people. I was really fortunate to be offered a spot on Miami's Students United Way group, which is involved in a lot of community service.

"Here at Miami, it can be a little nerve-racking at times. I'm always thinking, 'Am I missing something? Should I be studying more?' But I really like the fact that I get a sense of independence here, allowing me the opportunity to get involved in various student organizations, such as Best Buddies, mock trial, and especially being chosen as a University Academic Scholar.

"This was a huge honor. We had a reception with President Hodge, and because this was the first year of the program he called us the flagship group, the 'poster children' of Miami. Hearing that, I thought to myself, 'Well, I made the right choice.' It was one of my deciding factors for coming here; it came with a huge scholarship and it's a great experience. We're a small group, so we're able to meet new people and take advantage of so many opportunities. In my pre-law classes we have guest speakers such as attorneys who come in to talk to the class, but with the Academic Scholars Program I get to have lunch with them, giving me even better access to their knowledge and experience. It's really cool."

Advice to Students

"Having a major in liberal arts is really going to help—not only with your major itself or your career, but also in your life as well. You learn to critically analyze different situations that may not just happen in your workplace, but also beyond. Receiving an education at one of the best undergraduate and liberal arts schools in the country is an incredible opportunity, and if you desire to even take a chance at something like this, I'd say go for it—the people here in Miami's College of Arts and Science are willing to help you narrow down your choices in your future. And if you decide that you don't want to be in the College of Arts and Science, they'll help you transition and transfer into whatever you want to be.

"In the words of one of my role models, Sabrina Bryan of the Cheetah Girls, 'You just gotta be you.' And I think that those words are really important to everyone."

[September 2013]


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