Alumni Spotlight: Carissa Knol
Class of 2013
Hometown: Lethbridge, Canada
Carissa, why did you choose to attend Providence?
I chose to attend Providence because of Providence. Really. I don’t mean to sound trite but when I think back to how I ended up here, it can only be attributed to the work of God. I was pretty sure I wanted to study law, but I had no idea what I was going to do to get there. Because I couldn’t decide, I made up my mind that I would do long distance classes until I was sure about where and what I’d study for my undergrad. In the beginning of the summer before I came to Providence, my Dad recommended that I apply. I looked up the website and didn’t see any majors that really interested me but I applied anyway so that my Dad would stop pestering me. When I received my acceptance letter, I decided to go and every day since then I have seen how getting a Providence education was part of God’s plan for my life all along.
What have you been doing since graduation?
I have been pursuing my JD at UCLA School of Law. This summer, I am interning at Miller Thomson LLP, a large firm in Calgary, AB. My six-week internship is part of the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, which is a nine-week program dedicated to training students from the top law schools across the country to be effective Christian lawyers.
How did your Providence degree translate to your law school applications?
By the time I made my decision to attend UCLA School of Law, I had been waitlisted at eight other top schools, including Harvard, and accepted at six more. The law school application process is complicated, requiring transcripts, resumes, numerous recommendation letters, personal statements, LSAT scores, and the list goes on. In the end, I’ll never really know what tipped the balance in my favor, but I know that my Providence education played a role in a few key ways. Diversity is important to many law schools, and not many from small religious liberal arts schools are applying. Involvement in many extracurricular activities is equally important, and not many can say that they had leadership roles in more than one club, were involved in Student Senate, and played a role in founding their school’s newspaper (at large, prestigious institutions, most founders of anything are ancient). Finally, strong recommendation letters are very important, and not many law school applicants have personal relationships with several professors who can write raving, detailed letters for you because they actually know you. Attending Providence also speaks generally of your character, if you can talk passionately about why you are dedicated to attending a brand new liberal arts institution and how you believe it is creating a positive future for you. I believe that a Providence education is far more beneficial to students seeking to pursue continuing education than I ever thought it could be.
How did Providence prepare you for law school?
How does any college prepare you for law school? It doesn’t. Law school is completely unlike any other thing most law students have ever experienced and I don’t know if college can really prepare you for that. I do think, however, that Providence gave me a leg up in several respects. I was used to the expectation that I attend every class and come prepared, having done the reading. I was used to being called on and actively participating in class. I was used to sitting in essentially the same seat every class – yeah, there was no seating chart but there were enough of those crazy kids that seemed to claim a seat on the first day and then treat it as the personal property for the remainder of the semester; undeniably, protecting it by whatever means proved necessary!
What do you plan to do with your law degree?
I change my mind approximately seven times a day. I originally thought that I was going to law school to get involved in human rights in some way, but since my first day of orientation I have discovered that there are literally thousands of things you can do with a law degree and most of them seem very interesting and exciting. Every time I hear UCLA alumni speak about their careers since they graduated law school I think, “I want my career to be exactly like yours!” Recently, however, I have been thinking more and more about entertainment law, and the need for strong Christian influence in the entertainment industry. Because I am studying at UCLA, one of the only law schools with an entertainment law program, in the heart of the entertainment industry, there are many good opportunities to start a career in entertainment law. At this moment, I think that it is my most probable plan, Lord willing.
What would you tell a high school student who is unsure about a liberal studies degree?
Liberal Studies is the best way to go! Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone, but I stand by my previous statement 100% for high school students who are interested in law. You should do something that interests you, not something specifically law related. No matter what you study, it is applicable to the law in some way. The breadth of a liberal studies degree will prove to be useful every single day for the rest of your life, and especially as you learn to think critically about the law in light of everything you know about the world.