Student Spotlight: Laura Eagle On the Pathway to Empowerment

by Melissa Green  |   

Laura Eagle knows how difficult it can be when life takes unexpected turns. She wants to use her paralegal studies classes—and a budding career in the court system—to empower her family and her community.

Portrait of Laura Eagle
(Photo courtesy of Laura Eagle)

Laura Eagle knows how difficult it can be when life takes unexpected turns. When Eagle’s father passed away several years ago, it was difficult for her family to navigate the many processes they needed to. Things were particularly difficult for her mother, who is from Korea and speaks limited English. “I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to be like this forever,’” says Eagle. “I wanted to be able to help my mom and my family. I wanted to be able to help people when they can’t help themselves.”

Eagle was especially motivated by how much attorneys can help, in all kinds of difficult times. “Seeing people in courtrooms advocating for others is really inspiring to me,” she says. That led her to the paralegal studies associate’s program at the Justice Center, which she’s on track to finish this fall. Once she earns her AAS, Eagle’s plan is to continue on to complete her bachelor’s degree in legal studies here. And after that? She’s considering law school. There’s a long way to go—but Eagle has come a long way already.

“It has been quite a journey,” she says about the paralegal studies program. In addition to participating in mock trials and learning to make oral arguments, Eagle’s internship at the state’s therapeutic court paved the way for her current job as an in-court clerk. “I was able to network with people who work here, and my supervisor was one of my references,” she says. “That internship gave me a leg up to get this job.”

Working and going to school is a big commitment, but for Eagle it’s the perfect combination. She explains that the paralegal studies program provides the foundational knowledge she needs for her job, while her job offers new experiences that enhance what she’s learning in the classroom. “You can learn general concepts in school, but working as an in-court clerk has taught me a lot about Alaskan law and how we do things here. I get to be there for arraignments, changes of plea, trials. I get to see how the attorneys and judges interact. I’m learning all kinds of new things.”

Eagle says the challenge is worthwhile not only for her career, but also for the people she’ll be able to advocate for—some of whom might be facing major life events like she and her family did. “I really want to do this because I really want to help people,” she says. “I want to be part of changing the world, and the way to do that is to educate myself. This is a set of skills that I can use to help my family—and to help the world around me.”

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