Liberal arts lead Engel back to law

Amanda Engel ’14 came to Cornell as a pre-law student, but decided to switch her focus to a double major in English and mathematics before returning to her original plan to apply for law school. Now, with a well-rounded skill set, Engel, of St. Charles, Ill., is preparing to attend Washington University School of Law in St. Louis this fall.

Amanda Engel ’14 will attend Washington University Law School in the fall.
Amanda Engel ’14 will attend Washington University School of Law in the fall.

Engel’s time at Cornell taught her that academics aren’t black and white, and careers don’t have to be either.

“I wanted a career that would combine my passions for both math and English,” she said “and I ended up finding that in law.”

Engel’s final decision to pursue law didn’t happen until the end of her junior year. Meanwhile, the time she spend playing for the softball team, participating in band and orchestra, working as a writing consultant at the Writing Studio, and being a part of Mortar Board and Spanish National Honor Society proved well-spent. As Engel found, law schools are looking for students who are well-rounded.

Professor of English Shannon Reed offered support with Engel’s decision to pursue law, and helped Engel find a law internship in Cedar Rapids during the fall of her senior year. There she completed legal research projects, organized trial notebooks for the attorneys in the office, and observed criminal and civil procedures in associate, district, and federal courts. It was that internship that solidified Engel’s decision that law school was the right place for her.

“She encouraged me not to settle,” Engel said. “She taught me to push myself to become all that I could be, and helped me realize that I could achieve my dreams.”

When it came time for the personal statement, which she cited as the hardest part of the law school applications, Engel found guidance in the Writing Studio, directed by Laura Farmer. “Without Laura’s emotional and practical support, I would not be where I am today.”

She also worked with RJ Holmes-Leopold ’99, the staff advisor for the Center for Law and Society, who helped her get on-track to make her dream a reality. “I have had some incredible mentors among the faculty and staff here. I am extremely grateful for all of their support and help over the last four years.”

Her Cornell College education, including the fact that Cornell’s Center for Law and Society has a 100 percent acceptance rate to law school, compared to an 84 percent national average, served Engel well. Law schools saw Cornell College on her application and were immediately interested.

“I even received handwritten notes from admission counselors,” she said. “They know that Cornell sends out strong students.”