Today, so many students attend a lecture, take a class, and even pursue a degree without purpose, direction, or retention. Some treat education like the internet or television: click around, allow information to wash over, and hope it seeps in (or not). Others soak up the opportunity for education, live to learn new skills, and, as a result, develop right before our eyes. Third-year GGU law student Julia Levitskaia exemplifies the latter.
Julia was born in Gomel, Belarus. When she was six years old, her mother decided to move to the United States. Speaking only Russian, Julia started in English as a Second Language. She loved learning English and reading and quickly became a top reader in a regular classroom.Even then, Julia appreciated the sacrifice her mother made to bring her to the US. "My mother's strength and selflessness continues to be my inspiration-she gave up more than I can imagine just so I can grow up in a better environment." Julia interpreted for her mother and assisted her mother with English as she learned it. Julia still greatly values her first skills learned in this country: while in law school, she still reads voraciously.Julia attended Rutgers University where she majored in psychology and criminal justice. While at Rutgers, Julia also taught children with autism and enjoyed teaching others the same lessons and skills that she embraced upon coming to the US. Julia's stepfather, a successful businessman, instilled in Julia the value of professional development. "He always treated me as an equal-always pushing me to excel. It's from him that I derive my ambition and my relentless drive to do better, to be better." These discussions eventually led Julia to GGU Law.When she came to GGU, Julia had no friends in the area. "I was going to law school to learn. I was under the impression this was serious business, and friends were only secondary. I was wrong. It's the friends I made here at GGU that made law school, especially my 1L year, not only tolerable, but probably the best time of my life."Julia planned to become a transactional lawyer. "On the tour at GGU, I skipped the courtroom because I figured there is no way that I was ever going in there. That room-and the thought of mock trial-terrified me."During her 2L year at GGU, Julia took several litigation courses, competed in three mock trial competitions, and served as a TA for trial advocacy and the Litigation Center's 1st STEP summer program. Currently, Julia interns for a litigation professor's law offices. Ironically, in the summer, Julia and other teaching assistants used as their daily offices the same courtroom that she skipped during the tour two years earlier."It's crazy because litigation is all I want to do now. For me, there's nothing more exciting than preparing for trial and stepping into the courtroom." Julia's parents drove to Connecticut to watch her perform in her first mock trial competition. The presiding judge's first comment after trial was, "Ms. Levitskaia, I know that has to be your mother in the audience, because I can tell how proud she is watching you perform - and she should be proud because you were great." Julia translated the judge's comments for her mother. "My mom was in awe-until that point I don't think she fully understood what it is I want to do."Settled now in the Bay area, Julia says, "I had no connection to anyone when I first moved here, but now my closest friends in life are people I met at GGU." Learning the right way and passing it along to others selflessly, we are not surprised. Professor Wes Reber Porter interviewed Ms. Levitskaia. Prior to coming to GGU, he served as an enforcement attorney at the SEC and in the Navy JAG. He now serves as co-director of The Litigation Center. During those rare moments not spent on campus, Prof. Porter enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons. See ggulitigation.com for more information about the Center.