I don’t need back-ups

I’m going to HARVARD, courtesy of the Air Force Funded Legal Education Program!

…just kidding though. I ABSOLUTELY had back-up schools, and a back-up life plan. I applied to about ten schools total, and thought I had no chance of getting into HLS. But let’s reverse real quick:

How did you get here?

Unlike Elle Woods, I’m not going straight from undergrad to law school. I graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2016 and become a Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force. (The flight attendant get-up above is our service dress uniform, the equivalent of a business suit!) I then completed technical training in California before moving to North Dakota, where I’ve been since April 2017. I’m now a First Lieutenant and my current job is completely unrelated to law; nevertheless, I knew pursuing a JD was truly what I wanted. Luckily, it fits perfectly with the military’s plans for me and my chihuahua husband.

As you may have guessed, nuclear missile operations is an extremely small field. If I stayed with it, I’d be separated from my husband Ben (also an Air Force officer) for a good chunk of our careers. And because it’s so exclusive, we’d also be limited to a few remote, verrrrry chilly bases. If I transition to law, on the other hand, our options are endless!

What is the Funded Legal Education Program?

In my (totally unbiased) opinion, FLEP is the greatest deal in the world. All branches of the military offer the Funded Legal Education Program (FLEP for short) to active duty members between 2 and 6 years of service. Through this program, I’ll stay active duty Air Force for all three years of school. This includes full pay, housing allowance, and promotions! In return, I owe six years of service as an Air Force Judge Advocate (or JAG) when I graduate. This is what I want to do anyway, so HECK YES SIGN ME UP. Harvard Law is approximately $90-100K in living/tuition/whatever else fees each YEAR, which is outrageous; there’s no way I could attend on my own dime.

I also don’t have to compete for jobs or internships, so the biggest stressors of law school don’t apply right off the bat. I’m just here to graduate, y’all! If you have Elle Woods’ parents, lucky you; otherwise, I highly recommend dedicating a few years to the military if you’re serious about becoming a lawyer. If you’re interested, or someone else might be, feel free to hit me up with questions or check out https://www.airforce.com/careers/specialty-careers/jag/overview.

What kind of law do you want to practice?

I won’t specialize in a single type of law while in the military. Instead, I’ll practice a variety based on my rank and role at each station. Of course, I still find some varieties of law more interesting than others! Appropriately for a military officer, I particularly like national security and international relations. My current job as a nuclear missile operator exposed the tiniest bit of law regulating what we can and can’t do with our nuclear weapons. Of course, this was incredibly interesting!! Ideally, nuclear law and national security will be my focus at Harvard and possibly once I’ve completed my military career. But a lot can change between now and then.

Why did you apply to Harvard specifically?

My decision to apply to Harvard, Boston College, Boston University, and a few other smaller Boston-area schools, was based on its proximity to Hanscom Air Force Base. My husband is a contracting officer and Hanscom happens to be an ideal place for his work! While we weren’t guaranteed to stay together, we took a bet (a lucky one, as it happened) that the Air Force would send him my way. Ben does have orders to Hanscom for Nov 2019!

As for Harvard itself…you have to, right?! I truly thought I had little-to-no shot of acceptance, but I knew I’d regret not submitting an app. I also applied to a few schools in New York City, despite the lack of Air Force bases – we hoped Ben could go to an Army base, which was sketchy at best. But with scholarships and Air Force funding considered, Boston worked out best!