[PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]
The law school experience was once described to me by one of my professors as being the scenario of an elderly, male professor walking into the classroom, yelling at the class about their futility, throwing chalkboard erasers at students who answer questions incorrectly, and walking out of the room.
With this in mind, my first-semester jitters were in full force for the first class of my law school career. The professor shuffled her deck of students’ names for the first cold call of the semester. My friend next to me bounced his leg in anticipation while the rest of the students sat in silence, praying their names would not be chosen. A name was pulled from the stack. “MR. CONNOR JENKINS,” shouted my professor into the crowd of students. I looked around knowing my name was called, but also knowing that I am, for sure, not a male. I raised my hand. Embarrassed for misstating my gender, the professor gave me a pass on the question, and I could finally breathe again.
Needless to say, my first semester at Barry University School of Law was not as expected. I entered law school with the expectation of ruthless, unforgiving professors who assign reading with impossible deadlines. I anticipated being humiliated for answering a question incorrectly in class. I expected stiff competition where all students were “out for blood” and refused to help one another. However, transitioning into law school was surprisingly easy, especially after participating in Lake County’s Teen Court program and working at a Tavares, Florida, law office.
The professors—though in fact unforgiving of missed deadlines— were not ruthless. Instead, they provided ample help for assignments, tests, and course content. Rather than being humiliated by answering a question incorrectly, the professors walked students through the correct answers which was a truly memorable experience. Though competition was intense, students exchanged outlines and notes, formed study groups, and helped one another.
My first semester of law school was nothing like my professor described — although, I do have an elderly, male professor this semester. Whether he will throw chalkboard erasers at students remains to be seen.
Connor Jenkins, a Lake County native, won the 2016 Lake County Teen Court Award. She received her B.A. degree in Legal Studies in May of 2019 from the University of Central Florida. In August of that same year she began her first semester at Barry University School of Law. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]