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April 21, 2020 at 3:19 pm

Happy Beginnings | Wendel Awarded Full Ride Scholarship to Moritz College of Law

Lydia Wendel, portrait

Lydia Wendel

The Happy Beginnings series features College of Arts & Sciences graduates who are getting started in careers, graduate school, and service.

Lydia Wendel will graduate in spring 2020, and in the fall she heads to Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, where she has been awarded the Michael E. Moritz Merit Scholarship in Law.

The scholarship, which includes full tuition, a $2,500 stipend, and extensive mentoring, is awarded on the basis of academic achievement, LSAT score, demonstrated capacity for leadership, diversity, and other factors.

Wendel is a senior Political Science Pre-Law major, with a minor in Anthropology and a Certificate in Law, Justice & Culture.

As she leaves OHIO, Wendel has some advice for any students interested in law—get involved. Whether it’s getting closer to professors, joining law-related student organizations, or spending free time in the Center for Law, Justice & Culture, these are all things that connect you to the community that you need to be connected to.

“Without my experiences in my student organizations and the valuable connections I made with faculty members and in the center, I would be in a much different situation leaving Ohio University. Opportunities are all over the place in Athens, but you’re the only one who can seize them,” she said.

Wendel was drawn to apply to the certificate after her first semester in the Law, Justice & Culture Learning Community, taught by the Director of the Center for Law, Justice & Culture, Dr. Haley Duschinski.

“Through the learning community, I became exposed to numerous different student organizations and joined a few of them as a freshman. It was amazing to see how many students in those organizations were also members of the certificate program. They always sang the program’s praises and discussed the interesting curriculum and the amazing professors affiliated with the Center for Law, Justice & Culture.”

Loving Constitutional Law and Race in the Criminal Justice System

Wendel’s favorite courses within the program include Constitutional Law and Race in the Criminal Justice System. She says she adored Dr. Kathleen Sullivan and the way she taught Constitutional Law with the Socratic method.

“The use of the Socratic method and the style of the class was different than anything else I had ever taken within the Political Science department. Each day in class I was excited to put to use what I had learned, and as I continued in the course, I could feel myself becoming more familiar with constitutional law and the way that we theorize about the law.”

Race in the Criminal Justice System, taught by Dr. Daniel Moak, opened up Wendel’s eyes to the injustices in the criminal justice system and further enhanced her interest in social justice and criminal justice reform. “The depth of what Dr. Moak teaches us in that course is astounding, and it makes you realize that a lot of the first things you learn about the criminal justice system are only really scratching the surface,” she said.

Many CLJC affiliates have shaped Wendel’s time at Ohio University, and she was able to work in the capacity of Undergraduate Associate for the CLJC her junior and senior years. This allowed her to form close relationships with Duschinski and Larry Hayman, Esq., the CLJC’s Pre-Law Advisor. Wendel served as Duschinski’s Learning Community Leader, and it gave her the chance to collaborate with her on lesson plans and lectures, as well as helping the incoming Law, Justice & Culture students grow in the same ways she did.

“Dr. Duschinski holds so many different positions in my life and has been involved in my career at Ohio University from the start. She’s the reason that I decided I also wanted to pursue a minor in Anthropology, and she was always someone I could turn to for any sort of advice regarding my time at Ohio University, and my future plans.”

Help Preparing for Law School

Hayman was an enormous help for Wendel, as he guided her through the law school application process and preparing for law school.

“There were so many times when I would walk into Larry’s office overwhelmed and defeated and would leave with the confidence to know that I would end up where I needed to be. Larry opened so many doors for me and gave me the chance that I needed to end up where I am now,” she said.

As for instructors, Wendel named Sullivan. “She helped me become a better student, political science scholar, and legal thinker…. What I love about Dr. Sullivan is that if she’s confident in your intelligence and ability, then she’ll push you to be better. Even when I would have an off day in one of her courses, and thought I knew something I didn’t, I just came back more determined and with more drive to prove myself. For me, that was rare, and Dr. Sullivan is one of the only professors I’ve experienced it with.”

Being a Leader on Campus

Throughout Wendel’s time at Ohio University, she has been a member of the Ohio University Mock Trial Team, the Ohio University Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, and Phi Alpha Delta.

“My freshman year, I served as secretary for the ACLU-OU, then I was the deputy director, and this past year I led as the director of the organization. Being a part of the ACLU-OU opened so many doors for me, and truly gave me a taste of what my future truly is going to look like.

“As the deputy director, in the summer of 2018, the ACLU-Ohio brought myself and then-director, Gabby Tharp to Washington. D.C., to the ACLU’s National Membership Conference, where I was able to learn about all of the ACLU’s initiatives and work alongside ACLU Staff Attorneys and State Legal Directors,” she said.

Wendel and OHIO Mock Trial team members.

Wendel and OHIO Mock Trial team members.

Within the Ohio University Mock Trial team, Wendel served as president for the most recent season. She notes that mock trial is an exciting, fast-paced, and competitive program and that leading the organization always kept things interesting and was extremely rewarding.

“On the team during my freshman year, I met some of my best friends, and each year forward, I continued to meet amazing people who will be in my life forever. The OHIO Mock Trial team has an extremely bright future, and I’m already looking forward to being a very active alumni team member.”

Phi Alpha Delta brought Wendel the most fun experiences that she’s had in Athens and notes that the organization is an amazing resource to connect with fellow peers who are interested in the same things.

Finding a Home in Center for Law, Justice & Culture

When Wendel first came to Athens, she was convinced she would be transferring somewhere else. She was far from home, and no one from her hometown went to OHIO.

“The first few weeks of my freshman year were very hard, and things only really began to turn around when I became close with a few friends in the Law, Justice & Culture Learning Community and joined both the ACLU-OU and the OHIO Mock Trial team, all things that the center is home to.”

The center also gave her the chance to meet the most important people in her life and opened the door for her to experience what makes Ohio University so wonderful.

“My OHIO experience would’ve been completely different, and not nearly so wonderful if it hadn’t been for the center.”

Learning more about law, justice, and culture and its existence throughout everyday life made Wendel much more interested in the path she had chosen.

“The more that I immersed myself within the CLJC, I knew the sort of work that I wanted to do, and it fueled me to be a better student and work as hard as I could to achieve everything that I wanted to.”

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