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My mentors in juvenile justice: Julie Darnieder and Tanner Kilander

I find it exciting and invigorating to be entering a profession that for centuries was dominated, if not entirely occupied by males. Strangely, entering the legal profession did not strike me as a momentous accomplishment until I received my first law school acceptance letter and my parents were beaming from ear to ear. Especially my mother, because she never had the opportunity to complete her undergraduate schooling, let alone study at the graduate level. But I realize she gave up her education to stay at home to give my brother and I the life that she never had. Without my mother's encouragement and support, especially in my early years, it is likely that I would not have the opportunity to enter the legal profession.

In 2003 I began volunteering in the legal community at the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic. There I met two of the most inspirational women, attorneys Julie Darnieder and Tanner Kilander. Julie and Tanner are quite possibly the world's greatest mentors. If I could accomplish even a fraction of what they have, I would consider myself a successful person. Both women are successful attorneys, proud parents, and very active in the pro bono legal community. Julie has been named as a top attorney in several national publications, is the director of the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic, and has been recognized on numerous occasions for her continued dedication to the volunteer legal community. Tanner began working as a social worker before she returned to law school. In her third year of law school Tanner and a fellow student developed the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic. Tanner currently practices in the juvenile court system as a private guardian ad litem and a public defender. Fittingly, she also is a licensed foster parent.

Two years ago, Tanner took me under her wing and employed me as her legal assistant. She began teaching me the ropes of the juvenile justice system, and inspired me to pursue a legal career aiding children. Last year she put me in connection with the director of Milwaukee's Guardian Ad Litem office, where I interned the final semester of my senior year. There my interest in juvenile justice continued to flourish, and continues to do so at the Porter County Department of Child Services this summer. My goal for next summer is to volunteer or intern in an even larger juvenile justice system, such as Chicago, in hopes of deciding the size of the system best fitting for me, and expanding my knowledge of different juvenile justice systems.

Overall, I find being a woman soon to enter the legal profession empowering. I never doubt my ability to accomplish a goal based on my gender as prior generations were unfortunately taught. With the completion of my legal education I will be capable of achieving my goal of dedicating my life to the aid of children. My hope is to allow children the opportunity to pursue their goals and dreams, as the support of numerous people throughout my years and a legal education has allowed me.

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