“At a school like Willamette, you don’t run for student government for a line on your resume,” said Judith Parker, president of the third-year class in 2006. “Here, there’s an intrinsic motivation to do good things for the school because you’re so closely tied to it and your classmates.”
Parker has spent the past two years working tirelessly for the Class of 2006, which has twice appointed her class president. “I never sleep,” she noted. “We have such an active student bar association at WUCL. I organize events for the students, serve as a liaison with the faculty and administration, and help build a sense of community — of family — among students in the law school.”
Parker cites the college’s holiday toy drive as an example of the strong feeling of community that permeates the student body. “This year the student body held a toy drive for The Salvation Army. We exceeded our target by more than 10 percent because everyone pitched in. I’m very proud that during the stress of finals we were able to move beyond our own concerns and help the greater Salem community.”
Parker said she has been driven to succeed by a decisive event in her mother’s life. “My mother was valedictorian of her class, but never had the opportunity to go to college or have a career,” she said. “She was told by her school counselor not to bother — that college wasn’t necessary for her.” Parker said her mother’s missed opportunity has compelled her to make the most of the chances she has been given.
“I have that immigrant mentality,” the Miami native said. “When you have an opportunity, you feel it may be your only shot, so you pile as much on your plate as possible to make the most of it.” And she has, earning an undergraduate degree in archaeology and English literature and a graduate degree in English literature at Baylor University.
After graduation Parker moved to Portland, Ore., where she worked as a speech writer for a number of Democratic Party candidates and politicians. She also moonlighted as an immigration case worker before accepting a full-time position with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Portland. The experience strengthened her lifelong desire to study law.
“I chose Willamette because I knew the school provided strong support to its students,” she said. “I was attracted to Willamette because it is a small school. I knew that if I worked hard and applied myself, I would get noticed. I don’t think that if I’d gone to a bigger school I would have been as supported in the things that I have,” she said, citing moot court and student government as examples.
“The college does some great things for the students,” she said. “For example, the college is holding a bar review for third-year students. A number of the professors are planning one-hour mini courses on the topics covered on the bar exam. The review is free for all students planning to take the bar and will help ensure Willamette has solid bar-passage rates. This is a great benefit for many students, because not everyone can afford to take the BAR/BRI review.”
Parker may have to worry about taking the bar, but not about finding a position after graduation. She already has been offered a first-year associate position with Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt in Portland, the second largest law firm in the state. She received the offer after a successful summer position with the firm. “I’m so excited,” she said. “I know I work hard, but there are a lot of other hard working, good people who are just as deserving. I feel very fortunate. I feel I’ve had a Cinderella life.”
“I chose Willamette because I knew the school provided strong support to its students. I knew that if I worked hard and applied myself, I would get noticed.”