Brief Background: I grew up in northern Minnesota and then went to undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Following undergraduate, I moved to D.C. for a federal internship at the Department of Interior and then was lucky enough to become a federal employee. Working at the National Science Foundation in the Division of Undergraduate Education was a formative experience. I gained exposure to the functions of the executive branch in terms of seeing how national policy is formed and how agencies with similar missions collaborate and interact with the legislative branch. Within my division, the thrust of many of our programs was to increase representation of underserved communities in STEM higher education. What struck me was that many of the communities that face barriers to higher education are the same communities that face environmental injustice. This experience helped me to think about the multiple factors at play when considering what it means to make change and the interconnectedness of issues facing society.
Now that I am in law school I have had a couple of “aha” moments, one of which was when it dawned on me that I had experience in statutory interpretation without realizing it at the time. One of the STEM education programs I worked with was authorized in the U.S. code, and in writing and carrying out the program solicitation, we had to draw from the statute to give meaning to what the program should look like. Lesson learned from this experience, don’t sell yourself short, you probably know more than you think!
Three Activities I’m Involved In:
- Running: Going outside for a run is one of the most important things I do for self-care. Long runs help me to think through things and reduce my anxiety. Also a great way to get to know a new neighborhood!
- Volunteering: In pre-COVID times, volunteering in my local community is something that I have always done. Most recently I was a docent at the Insect Zoo at the National Museum of Natural History. I hope to get more involved in outdoor volunteer opportunities this fall in Portland such as tree planting and neighborhood clean ups.
- Baking/bakeries: I love croissants, cookies, and basically anything buttery with a crunch. One of my favorite recipes is “Oat and Tahini cookies” from the NYT, they include orange zest and a dark chocolate drizzle. As far as baked goods in Portland, the rose croissants at Nuvrei are a great treat after a study session.
I chose to attend Lewis and Clark because of the wide array of environmental courses available to students. I was encouraged by a conversation with the Dean of the Environmental law program, Janice Weis, who spoke about the environmental curriculum at Lewis & Clark and mentioned classes like Natural Resources Law and Public Lands and Resources Law. My interest was captured by the opportunity to learn about statutes like the Endangered Species Act from different vantage points. The niche courses here allow students to understand environmental law at a level unique among other institutions.
Advice in choosing where to go to law school:
There are many considerations and how you weigh each is ultimately up to you! What is the best choice, well…it depends! (a phrase you will grow to have a love/hate relationship with after your first semester of law school). I would consider the specialities the school is known for, the opportunities to get practical experience through clinics in your interest area, cost of attendance, bar pass rate, and location.
Glenda Valdez, 1L
University of Wisconsin-Madison