Shane Coughlin '20

    Shane Coughlin ’20

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    Current job title and employer and briefly describe what it is you do: Going into college, I knew I wanted to go into law school. That certainly influenced my college decision, I knew I wanted to go to a smaller liberal arts school. I realized, in high school, that having that tight knit community is very impactful. So, even throughout my decision making process, the professors that I was close with at Saint Michael’s College were very influential in my decision. I don’t think I would have ventured out to South Bend, Indiana at Notre Dame for Law School if it wasn’t for that positive relationship with faculty, it really made that difference. They encouraged me to reach out of my comfort zone. In terms of what I’m doing now, I’m in my second year of law school at Notre Dame. So I’m still taking a lot of different classes and I’ll be able to do some more experiential learning and internships.

    Academic experience at Saint Michael's College help prepare you for your career: I think, being a lawyer, being able to read carefully, write clearly, and think through difficult issues is something that my liberal arts education at Saint Michael’s College helped with; it really honed those skills. I was taking classes where I was reading very difficult texts, thinking about complicated issues and having to write about those issues in a clear manner. Those skills are something that I developed at Saint Michael’s and they’ve been very important in law school.

    Favorite memory or class from your time studying at St. Mike’s: Yes! My favorite professor is Professor Misra of the political science department, she’s wonderful. I was actually visiting over our fall break and I got lunch with her, it was great because I haven’t seen her in two years. Her classes always really pushed me to think the hardest, she would always put a spin on the readings. She would make me think about things in a new way. The in depth critical thinking I took away from her class, as well as her writing assignments, has been something very beneficial. I always found her classes to be among the hardest but also the most enjoyable because I really did learn a lot in those classes. I was a political science and philosophy double major, so I also really enjoyed taking classes with Professor Olsen. I took a wonderful class on Plato’s republic which just taught me to read very carefully and think about the significance behind every word and again, I’ve just maintained a wonderful relationship with him.

    Other information you would like to share or advice for incoming or current students: As I mentioned earlier, the relationship that you have with faculty and staff can be very influential in your decision making process. So, always be listening to the advice that they have because as I said, I don’t think I would have applied to some of the law schools I was thinking of without that encouragement. They know you very well, that’s one of the benefits of being at Saint Michael’s College, a smaller institution. I think the role they play in your development is crucial. Also, take advantage of as many of the different opportunities that exist, it may be an internship, a certain class. Again, I think developing those relationships is something that makes Saint Michael’s so special, so you don’t want to miss out on them. I would also say use the alumni network, it’s wonderful! Alumni are always eager to help.

    Did Saint Michael’s give you good networking opportunities? How were you able to use them?

    This past summer, I was having phone calls and emailing different Saint Michael’s alumni in the Boston area to learn about different law firms and the kind of work they’re doing. They were very responsive and always willing to help. It’s also always great to connect with recent graduates and talk about different professors that they’ve had and you’ve had and connect about both being from Saint Michael’s.

    What were some extracurricular activities that you took part in while at Saint Michael’s? How did those activities influence you?

    I was involved in the Student Government Association, I really enjoyed that experience. Those people are some of my best friends still to this day from Saint Michael’s College. We were working on different projects and fun events throughout the year all the time, so we just bonded so closely. I still talk to some of the people I worked with almost on a daily basis. Also, just giving back to the student body and serving the student body in that capacity is something that’s important in developing leadership skills. I was also a Resident Assistant and I loved that job. Being able to make the residence hall somewhere that residents were eager to live was rewarding. They were always looking forward to different events we were organizing. Making the environment a close knit community was something that I really enjoyed doing through that capacity and working with resident staff to put on those events was really enjoyable. Collectively, I think those two experiences gave me a lot to take away from my experience.

    Which part of your liberal arts education at SMC has been the most valuable to you?

    My liberal arts education at Saint Michael’s prepared me for the challenges that law school and the legal profession present. Being a philosophy and political science double major, I engaged with difficult reading materials, which has been helpful for law school and my internships. Furthermore, seminar-style classes with discussion were beneficial because they improved my ability to communicate clearly about complicated issues. Lastly, I became a better writer through working with professors on research projects and papers.

    Was there a particular lecture, course, book, professor, staff member or extracurricular activity that made an indelible impact on your career path or life, or shaped who you are now?

    The summer before my senior year, I did an eight-week full-time research project as a Trustee Scholar. I worked closely with Professor Shefali Misra of the political science department to research political theory and political polarization. Having taken many of Professor Misra’s classes, I was excited to continue exploring my academic interests outside of the classroom. This was an excellent opportunity to pursue my academic interests while improving my research and writing skills. I continue to reflect on my experience today, and I have stayed in touch with Professor Misra.