This story is one part of a five part series where we highlight seniors with interesting paths after graduation. This is only a small sample of the many students who are doing interesting things.
Senior political science major Lydia Heye came to the University of Portland wanting to be a doctor. Now, she is heading to the University of California Los Angeles School of Law. Heye was accepted to all 11 law schools she applied to, including the University of Southern California, Boston University, University of Notre Dame and George Washington University, just to name a few.
When she started studying political science, Heye wasn’t sure about a specific career path. It was during her junior year when she did some research and saw that law is one of the most popular paths for political science majors. After reaching out to people she knew who were in the field of law and asking them questions, she started to picture herself as a lawyer.
Another experience that confirmed Heye’s interest in law was when she joined UP’s Mock Trial Team at the beginning of her senior year.
“I loved it. It’s a really good experience,” Heye said. “I think that through Mock Trial it kind of solidified my path of being a lawyer. I think that I can really picture myself doing that for the rest of my life.”
Heye’s father has had a large influence on her interest in law and in the type of law she wants to pursue. Heye’s father’s ethnicity is Ethiopian, and he is a British citizen. Heye said that he spent 20 years trying to get his U.S. citizenship and got it only a few years ago.
“What initially made me go into law was to help out immigrants because my dad is an immigrant,” Heye said. “So, I was thinking of becoming an immigration attorney.”
Even though she likes the idea of becoming an immigration attorney, she is still trying to keep her options open because she knows that her time in law school is what will help her in making the right choice.
“They always say that law school is kind of one of those things that you come in with an idea of what type of law you want to do and then you start taking classes and realize you might have a passion in something else,” Heye said. “So, I’m trying to keep my options open.”
To get into law schools, Heye spent three months from the beginning of last August till the beginning of November studying for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The process was pretty stressful, and she even quit her job to make more time for studying.
“Studying for LSAT was definitely difficult because it felt like it was another part-time job during my school week,” Heye said. “At any given week I was probably studying the LSAT for like 10 to 15 hours. I felt like I was taking an extra class. If people want to take LSAT, do not do it during the school year because it’s a little overwhelming.”
Heye, who is originally from Portland, is very excited to finally live somewhere sunny.
“UCLA they just stood out from the rest because they have this really cool program at the Law School called critical race studies that no other schools have, so I thought it would be really cool to go check that out,” Heye said. “And then I went to campus actually this last week and I fell in love with it. I met with the professors and everyone was just great.”
Heye is excited about the new opportunities that UCLA will present her for her future career. She knows that the path of becoming an attorney is challenging but at the same time rewarding.
“I think in regards to practicing law it will be hard for me to leave work at work if that makes sense,” Heye said. “It will be hard for me to separate my work from my real life, especially becoming an immigration attorney is so emotionally hard and difficult because I am dealing with people’s lives on my hands.”
She believes that the most important and rewarding part of the job for her is going to be about helping people.
“What will be most rewarding is being able to say that I am helping people with my job and at the end of the day seeing that my work has positively impacted them,” Heye said.
For this summer, before she leaves for law school, Heye is hoping to find a simple, fun job like being a barista, so she can enjoy some fun time before joining the legal world.
She is also hoping to find some time to travel and visit Ethiopia. When Heye was 12 years old, she moved to live in Ethiopia for two years and she misses her time there.
“First year I was there, I hated it,” Heye said. “It was so different than Portland. Sometimes there was no running water or electricity. But next year I fell absolutely in love with Ethiopia. It was great being able to be where my dad is from and be close to his culture.”
Knowing that there is almost no time left before graduation, Heye says that she is going to miss her time at UP a lot.
“Every day I realize how much I love this place and I’m devastated that I’m leaving,” she said.
Heye believes that the most important thing that she has learned in college is that you are never done learning.
“I feel like over the four years I have realized how much I don’t know and how much there is still a need to learn,” Heye said. “You are never done learning, if that makes sense. And I am hoping to take that into law school too that I am always going to be learning throughout the whole process.”
Anush Hakobyan is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.