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Leah Holder, 1L

Profile Photo of Leah Holder

Austin and UT: The Best of Everything

I chose to attend The University of Texas School of Law for many reasons, but there were three primary ones. First, I believed a law degree from UT Law would give me the best return on my investment. I considered several Ivy League schools and quickly learned that even with scholarships the costs would be substantially higher. Not only would the tuition costs be higher, but the costs of living on the East Coast would be much greater as well. My second reason for choosing UT Law — it’s in Austin, Texas. Austin is, by far, one of the coolest cities in the United States. I love the weather, live music, parks, variety of food options and so much more. The third reason I chose UT Law was that I liked the culture within the law school. I visited the school a few times and found the culture to be friendly and warm. Often times, top law schools can have cold, cutthroat atmospheres. Studying law here at UT allows students to have the best of both worlds — a top-rate education and a pleasant atmosphere.

What Starts Here Changes the World

I have always been a big dreamer. I graduated from high school utterly convinced that I would impact the world. A few weeks into my freshman year at UT, I learned of the university’s slogan: “What starts here changes the world.” I remember thinking, Wow, I really did select the right school. What better place for a future world-changer like me? In essence, that’s what being a Longhorn means to me. It means being equipped with the knowledge, experiences, resources and networks to go out into this world and impact it for the better. That’s what I intend to do, and I believe being a double Longhorn will help me do it.

Encouragement and Support

My most memorable moment at UT Law so far is a conversation I had with Assistant Dean Monica Ingram. I was beginning to feel that all-too-familiar 1L pressure and went to talk to her about it. She took the time to listen to me, encourage me and even refer me to some 2L students to whom I could speak. I left her office feeling so much better and I often refer back to that conversation.

Making an Impact

I hope to practice in the education law field for some time. I believe education inequality is the primary civil rights issue of our time, and I hope to become involved in local and national legislatures. Earning my J.D. will qualify me to interpret laws, and I believe it will also give me an advantage in making them. I do not know if I will run for office and personally make laws, but at the very least, I intend to be integral in the lives of people who do.

It's About the Journey

The last day of 1L orientation, one of the professors said, “In three quick years, we will all come together again and celebrate the conclusion of your law school journey. What kind of journey do you want to have?” I found his comment and question to be poignant. I decided then and there that I wanted my law school journey to be one in which I learned as much as possible, persevered through the struggles, celebrated the victories and excelled academically, professionally and personally. I often refer back to that moment, especially on the difficult days.

Teacher. Student. Mentor.

My Teach For America experience was life changing. It was the most difficult task I had ever undertaken, and there were times I didn’t think I would make it. I'm so glad I did, though. I learned as much from my children as they learned from me. They genuinely loved me and I loved them. I am incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to give back to some of this country's underserved children and experience "life" before beginning law school. Although I am not a schoolteacher anymore, I am still passionate about helping teens and young adults. When I consider the success I've enjoyed in my life thus far, I see it's due in part to the people in my life who have continually shared their wisdom and life experiences with me. As a result, I have been able to avoid some of the mistakes and painful consequences they endured. I hope to pass that insight along to those coming behind me. If I can spare any young person a life changing mistake or unnecessary heartache, I will be grateful.

collage of photos with Leah

Quick facts:

Name:
Leah Holder
Expected graduation:
2016
Hometown:
Houston, Texas
Undergrad university and majors:
The University of Texas at Austin; Plan II Honors

Organizations and internships:

Notable jobs/internships:
Bill Archer Fellow
NAACP Washington Bureau, legislative assistant
ConocoPhilips Legal Department, intern
Teach for America, elementary school teacher
UT Law organizations:
Thurgood Marshall Legal Society, member

Favorites:

Favorite study spot:
I like studying at the tables on the Tarlton Law Library's second floor because I love all the natural sunlight that comes through the large windows.
Favorite place to eat near campus:
I love going to the Red River Cafe because I can walk there from the law school and the breakfast is delicious.
Favorite thing about Austin:
I love the abundance of sunny days in Austin. I have an affinity for sunshine, hence my family's nickname for me — Sunshine.

Tips:

Tips for balancing school and life:
In order to remain balanced, you must have a targeted plan, continually readjust and refine that plan, and find good sources of encouragement and relaxation. Also, it’s good to remember the old adage about eating an elephant. If you haven’t heard of that, the question is, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer: one piece at a time.
Tips for someone who is applying to law school:
I have three tips:
  1. Research different law schools (and visit them, if possible) and apply to only those schools you believe you would like to attend. It’s a waste of time and money to apply to schools where you don’t intend to enroll. It’s also costly to enroll in a law school despite your dislike for it. Law school requires too much of a time and financial investment to be miserable the whole experience.
  2. Make sure your personal statement highlights what makes you unique. Admissions teams will be reading many applications. The more you distinguish yourself, the better.
  3. Don’t procrastinate. The sooner you complete and submit the applications, the sooner you’ll hear back from schools (most likely). The sooner you hear back, the sooner you can begin thoroughly weighing your options.
Leah Holder
UT Law Admissions 727 East Dean Keeton Street, Austin, TX 78705 admissions@law.utexas.edu (512) 232-1200 6882