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Bar Association Diversity Fellowship Gives 2L Heather Ray Invaluable Experience

2L Heather Ray

Second-year student Heather Ray has a head start on her legal career due in part to opportunities offered by the law school.

Ray is featured in the September/October issue of San Diego Lawyer magazine after participating in the Diversity Fellowship Program for which she was selected by the San Diego County Bar Association.

Ray learned about the program when she heard a graduating 3L speak at an admissions event presented by Student and Diversity Services at California Western.

She made up her mind right then and there to apply for the fellowship.

"My experience has been beyond measure," says Ray in the article she authored for the magazine. "For eight weeks this summer, I was incredibly fortunate to enhance my professional development and build essential legal skills by working at Wilson Turner Kosmo. I was responsible for high-level legal writing and research assignments seldom given to students coming out of their first year of law school. Whether attending an expert deposition, a trial, or discussing discovery responses, I was included in real-time conversations and had my personal input requested from practicing attorneys."

Ray is a second-career student. She worked as a graphic designer in both New York and Seattle before deciding to go to law school because she felt an advanced degree would open many doors in her career, whether she formally practices law or not.

Even as a 1L, Ray learned enough to be able to perform successfully in the fellowship.

"California Western prepared me for the tremendous opportunity of succeeding as a Diversity Fellow by providing a combination of legal knowledge, practical skills, career-enhancement tools, and a supportive faculty, staff, and student network," she says.

In fact, Ray relied heavily on the law school's Career and Professional Development Office (CPDO) staff and mentorships with professors to guide her throughout the opportunity.

"I took advantage of the fantastic CPDO services, and I attended most—if not all—of the events held on-campus and those CPDO recommended at the San Diego County Bar Association," Ray says.

Ray feels the Diversity Fellowship was a "gift," and she feels grateful and humbled by the opportunity it presented.

"I am most honored to have made my foray into law through the Diversity Fellowship program, and I am grateful to Wilson Turner Kosmo for their boundless enthusiasm and resources they shared," Ray says.

Ray would like to personally acknowledge and express her gratitude to Dean Emeritus Michael Dessent, Assistant Dean Susan Finster, Matthew Lab and Jocelyn Salvatori of CPDO, and Professors David Austin, Donald Smythe, and Mark Weinstein for the success she experienced in the Fellowship as a result of their guidance.

The 2015 Diversity Fellowship Program application will be available December 5, 2014.