Giving it my all
In her own words, Lalah Butler '13 discusses how her experiences at Utica College prepared her for the start of her law career.
I came from a really small high school of seventy girls. I was looking for something that would be similar. With me being young and not so much immature in a negative way but inexperienced – I didn’t know if I was ready for a big university like a Syracuse or a Michigan State. I wanted to remain in a very family-oriented, small environment. When I came to Utica, it just felt at-home, and my parents were comfortable, so that was a good sign. You could get from one end of the campus to the other in minutes. And then they had the program I was interested in. So all of those things kind of summed it up. Those were the kinds of things I was looking for in other colleges as well, but this had it the best.
I would definitely say, coming full circle, that every student can be a Utica student, and I think that’s what makes our campus different, and I think that I recognized that very early on. I feel Utica has a little bit of everything, and if you want to be that student who’s in fifty different organizations, you can do that here. If you want to be that student who focuses on your nursing or your OT or PT we have the best of that here. And it just sort of gives you the opportunity to venture out.
Now I’m sure that other students who go to other colleges will say the same thing, but when I talk to my friends who go to school elsewhere, they tell me, ‘You know, you’ve got a little taste of everything,’ and I think because of the taste-testing that I’ve had here, I’ve gotten a lot out of this college that I didn’t know that I’d get out of it. It really amplified everything I wanted to do here. I’m sure we’ve all made mistakes here and we all learned from those lessons and mistakes – I remember my mom saying, ‘If you’re not making mistakes in college then you’re doing something wrong.’ So I’ve tried to make just enough but not too many mistakes and to be able to learn from the mistakes that I have made.
Organizations have been great. My internships have changed my college career. I intern at the Bar Association, and with that I’ve gotten opportunities to work in different law firms. There’s really nothing that I can say that hasn’t prepared me for the future, and I just never saw myself anywhere else. I really soared, and I really appreciated the faculty – I mean, I have friends other places and they’re like, ‘You know the president of your college? You’ve seen him or her?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, all the time. He moved my refrigerator into my dorm room when I was a freshman.’ They are so amazed. I mean, I’ve seen our provost in the gym.
I really, really love my major, as cliché as it may sound. I knew that with picking a major, I remember telling my mom that if I can’t communicate, I’m in trouble. So let me master how to communicate interpersonally, interculturally, non-verbally, and then maybe I’ll be okay in life. I think because we’re all not headed in the same direction – we’re not all working toward passing a common exam and going into the same field; with communication you can do anything. The professors really got to know us and made sure that we didn’t get lost in this journey. There are so many job opportunities out there for people who specialize in communication. I feel like it’s given me a whole host of options to move forward. My major just really defined the type of student I am, the type of person I am, the kind of communicator I am, which I hope I’m not a bad one. It did great deeds.
Professor David Habbel is and will always be my favorite professor. I’m excited to get to know him more as a person now that I’m graduating. He’s written most of my recommendations. He’s just someone who gets me. I’ve gone into his office, sat down, and – I’ll be completely honest – just cried because I didn’t know where I was going next and I didn’t know what was going on. The words wouldn’t come out, but the tears did. He just listened, and I didn’t know that I could meet anyone like that except for my parents. My parents are four hours away, so to find another comforting person to talk about things with on a personal but academic level is something I don’t know that I would have made it this far without.
I think that Utica has given me all it had to give, and I’ve given it all I had to give. They say you can tell a Harvard student from any other type of student. But a Utica student, we’re just very different. And because the college allows you to be as different as you want to be, I think that’s what makes Utica students different. And I really like that."
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