Pre-Law Program at Miami University
[More People in the Spotlight.]
Davis was interviewed by former Director of Miami's Pre-Law Program, Yvette Simpson, on April 23, 2009.
YS: What is your year?
DM: I am a senior.
YS: What is your major?
DM: I am a double major in business legal studies and political science.
YS: What law school do you plan to enroll in during the fall?
DM: I will be at Vanderbilt Law School in Nashville.
YS: What are some of your most memorable experiences at Miami?
DM: I was a varsity swimmer here for four years. My most memorable experience probably was winning the Mid-American Conference championship my freshman year in 2006. The last day of that meet was incredible; standing on the podium with my team was memorable.
On campus, I think it would be the hockey game when we scored two goals in 22 seconds to win. I think that was a memorable moment. I love Miami sports; they are part of some of my best memories.
I took three classes in the political science department with Dr. Jones that were fantastic ... Those were all great and hopefully they will prepare me a little bit for law school.
YS: Let talk about your coursework. What courses have been the most beneficial to you?
DM: I have had the opportunity to take a fair amount of law-related courses and I have really enjoyed them and they solidified my interest. I took three classes in the political science department with Dr. Jones that were fantastic — Separation of Powers, Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties and Criminal Justice. Those were all great and hopefully they will prepare me a little bit for law school because we read a bunch of cases, briefed them, and talked about them. I enjoyed those classes and Dr. Jones was a great supporter for me the last two years.
I also have to mention Business because I had a lot of Business classes and they just gave me a lot of fundamental background knowledge of how things work in the business world and what I could do career-wise. But I think more than any particular class, that business background is most valuable as a whole.
YS: Who have been your mentors here at Miami?
DM: I think the first person at Miami who has helped me and advised me is Todd Bailey in the Business school. He is a graduate of Duke Law School and he has worked at a law firm in Cincinnati. He has a lot of experience and knowledge and he shared that with me over the course of this year. He is one of the people who really affirmed my decision to go to Vanderbilt.
Coming to Miami was a humbling experience. Things didn't always go the way I wanted them to ... I think that in the end that was good for me ... Now, I am going to be able to deal with the things that ... don't happen as I would have scripted.
YS: What has been one of your greatest obstacles here at Miami?
DM: I think it would be tied to my swimming career. It is something I poured a lot of my life into for 10 years and I had a lot of dreams and goals — coming to Miami was a humbling experience. Things didn't always go the way I wanted them to — opportunities that I could, or should, have had like traveling and things that were taken away. Some of those were particularly hard to deal with and swallow.
I think that in the end that was good for me because it was humbling. Now, I am going to be able to deal with the things that, throughout my life and career, don't happen as I would have scripted it. I think that has been my biggest learning experience.
YS: What has been your biggest accomplishment?
DM: I wrote about this in my personal statement. My greatest accomplishment is competing for four years as an athlete at a Division 1 institution and winning a championship one of those years. I think that my graduation is a great accomplishment and obviously my law school opportunities are a great accomplishment that not a lot of people get to have. When I look at it I am really proud of the work that I have put in at the swimming pool because that didn't come as easy for me as school has.
YS: When did you decide to pursue law school?
DM: My dad is an attorney; he went to law school in his thirties and started practicing when I was young, so I grew up with that window into the real world. It has always been interesting to listen to him talk about what he is doing at work, so I have always had that influence.
But I would say that my interest in law school was confirmed in the summer after my freshman year at Miami. I went home and spent some time shadowing a Chancellor for about two weeks and she sent me around to some judges and other local courts. I got to talk with some of the judges and see how things worked and I spent some time working for my dad. That experience was fascinating; it made me want to go to law school.
YS: What are you thinking about studying?
DM: I don't know exactly. I think it is likely to be litigation and dispute resolution.
I am looking forward to learning new material and getting in there and seeing what law is about and how it works. I am excited about going to class — I guess, that's probably the first time I have ever said that.
YS: What are you most anticipating about law school?
DM: I am excited. And — this sounds nerdy — but I am excited about the classes next year ... because I enjoyed the law-related classes I took here at Miami. I am not looking forward to the dreaded work load that will inevitably come; but I am looking forward to learning new material and getting in there and seeing what law is about and how it works. I am excited about going to class — I guess, that's probably the first time I have ever said that.
YS: You are in a unique position — you balanced being a scholar and being an athlete, one of which would have overwhelmed most students. You have done both very well. How did you do that?
DM: It is something I have always done. I think that I have talents in both athletics and the classroom, but my schoolwork has always come a lot easier. I certainly worked hard. I have always been able to do what I had to do in school and devoted myself to my athletics so that I could be successful. I think that swimming has given me a good sense of discipline and time management. I think that a strong work ethic and swimming go hand in hand, and I am fortunate to have these talents.
YS: Did you have fun?
DM: I did. I thoroughly enjoyed my career here as a swimmer and also my time outside the pool.
YS: What advice would you give to underclassmen who are considering law school?
DM: First of all, assuming that you know you want to go to law school, you should start the process early. Start looking at schools and researching schools. I took the LSAT the summer after my junior year and I think that was a good idea. I started working on my personal statement and I even visited a couple schools that summer. To get your application in early, not only do you have a better look from the admissions people you also have time to think about your options.
I would also say that once you have applied and start getting your acceptances and even before that I would say don't listen to what other people tell you to do. If you want to go to law school you should, but don't be pressured into going if you don't want to. Similarly, don't let people pressure you about where to go; I felt pressured through the process and people told me to choose other places, but in the end you have to do what you want to do and do what is going to make you happiest and most comfortable.
YS: What did you find most useful about the Pre-Law Program?
DM: I think that it was definitely nice to come here and have my personal statement edited and I let you look over that. I gave it to a number of people who all know me, so I think it was helpful to take it to the office and have someone who didn't know my story read it and give me an outside perspective. I needed that because my friends weren't telling me the things I was missing. It was nice to have an outside person's input to be able to polish it a little more.
YS: What suggestions do you have for developing the Pre-Law Program?
DM: I would say that I was not proactive in getting involved and getting information before or during my junior year, so I planned on doing a lot the summer before my senior year and that worked for me, but I wasn't able to get into the Pre-Law Program office because it was closed during the summer and I think that would have been nice for me.
I would also add that during the fall it seems busy around here. I think you could use another staff member. A good suggestion would be for people who are in law school currently to do some kind of an email correspondence to let current students bounce ideas off of them. I think that would be helpful because there isn't a lot of manpower around here. I think anyway you can get other people involved is a good thing.
YS: Are you volunteering? [Chuckles]
DM: Yeah, I will volunteer.
YS: Is there anything else you would like to share?
DM: I would just reiterate that if you have law school in your future plans do what is going to make you happy. I loved my time here and I am planning on loving my time next year and that is what's important because after Vanderbilt I am going to have a career and I want to love what I am doing in my career too.