Alumna April Stone: Up For Every Challenge

by Melissa Green  |   

We sat down to talk with UAA Justice Center alumna April Stone about what it’s like to be a nontraditional student pursuing a law career.

Portrait of April Stone
(Photo courtesy of April Stone)

We sat down to talk with alumna April Stone about what it’s like to be a nontraditional student pursuing a law career. In 2017 April graduated from the Justice Center’s accelerated justice major, which allowed her to enter law school—something she always knew she wanted to do—after her third year as an undergrad. In addition to being a parent, April worked as a paralegal before and during her time at UAA. She is currently finishing her JD at the University of Oregon School of Law.

How would you describe your experience as a nontraditional student at the Justice Center?

It was nothing like I thought it would be. I was expecting to be the old person in college when I started at 27 years old. I realized very quickly that many students at UAA were both older than me and younger than me, and I was relieved that there was so much age diversity.

I also didn’t want my undergraduate program to be so time consuming that it took away from my ability to be a parent. Balancing full-time work, school and parenting required a lot of organization—I needed to block time out to do homework, and also to be a parent. But I found that with careful planning it was totally manageable.

I also found that online classes worked really well for me, because I wanted to be at home more and minimize the amount of time I had to take off work. I was surprised at how many classes I could take without going to campus.

What do you like about law as a career?

I like the challenge! There’s so much strategy involved, and that makes it intellectually stimulating. I also like the ability to help someone in a way that they can’t help themselves. People depend on lawyers for all kinds of things—sometimes in critical situations, sometimes to plan for the future, or sometimes just to handle a problem that’s been nagging at them. But each of those things involves a lawyer offering something that people couldn’t do on their own. I like the responsibility that comes with that. No matter what type of work I’m doing, it really benefits someone.

What advice would you give students who want to go to law school?

Becoming a lawyer is a lot of work. You can expect your class workload to double or triple in the first year of law school, so make sure you’re fully invested and put in everything you’ve got. But I’d also say: Don’t underestimate yourself. Don’t assume that you’re not capable of the work, and don’t self-select out of opportunities by saying “I’m not good enough so I’m not even going to try.” Because that’s how you miss out on the best opportunities.

Any words of wisdom for nontraditional students?

I would definitely recommend that every student—nontraditional or not—take advantage of UAA’s tuition waiver opportunities. Those helped me through a lot of semesters, and some years they covered up to half of my tuition.

For working students: Ask questions. As a working parent, I approached my boss and said, “I want to go to college if you’re supportive of it.” I was able to work a crazy schedule so that I could leave for a few hours in the middle of the day to go to class. Reach out to everyone—your family and friends, your childcare provider, your boss, your school. There’s more support and resources for non-traditional students than I ever expected.

Also, talk to your professors! I got some great advice from the faculty in the Justice Center by just knocking on doors and saying, “Here’s what I want to do—help me get there.” Students don’t always take advantage of the wealth of knowledge in the Justice Center, and the resources there that help you reach your goals beyond college. I’m grateful to the faculty who helped me put this career plan together.

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