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Great Lakes To Beach States

By: Everett Stephenson

       Guest Writer, Tampa Bay

As the middle of the term approaches, I reflect back on my first year and my decision to attend law school in two different states. I started taken classes at the Auburn Hills campus in Michigan and transferred to the Tampa Bay campus last semester. Each area presented unique features that contributed to an enjoyable education experience.  

In order to be a well-balanced student, you have to have a stress reliever. In between briefing cases, structuring outlines, breaking down class notes and memorizing concepts you have to take time blow off a little steam. While in Metro Detroit, I would meet classmates at the Red Ox , travel to Metro Park for a swim, go and watch a concert or see the Detroit Pistons play. Here in the Tampa Bay area, there is an estimated 1.2 million more people than the Metro Detroit area. The social scene is more diverse culturally with great music and tastes. You have choices of beaches like Indian Rock, Bellaire, and St. Pete. The purple and orange color of sundown over the water is stunning.

As the weeks turned into months and months turned into semesters, I developed a stronger understanding for my classes and began to get involved in some of the student organizations and school competitions. Though student organizations and competitions are not unique to any one campus the knowledge gained from participating can pay dividends. Both campus students organizations held an array of speakers within the legal profession such as an ex-FBI director and a University of Florida Association Black Alumini president Terry Nealy. Both campuses had panels of local lawyers and judges come and speak to students about the importance of diversity in the legal community. Some of the different competitions available for students to participate in include: intra-school negotiations, moot court/criminal procedure, mock trail, and client counseling competitions.

Some student organization's also host social events where students can come together and meet for good times. At the Tampa Bay campus, the ABA hosted a couple of socials with food and drinks with tons of laughs at the local Bahama Breeze. The Tampa Bay campus also sponsored a campus scavenger hunt with a Barnes and Noble gift card award. Another exciting event that will be coming to the Tampa Bay campus this year is the Barrister ball. It’s going to be held at the Tampa Aquarium. I am looking forward to dancing with dolphins and sharks in the background. The Auburn Hills event last year was a big success. We had a photo both, candy bar, and great drinks specials all night. 

Both student bar associations do a good job of helping students get through finals study sessions by giving away snacks and exam packs. The SBA in Auburn Hills provided dinner or lunch for students during finals week. They also offered refreshments during the day to help propel us for the long haul. Here in Tampa, we received packages with earbuds, candy, highlighters and pens. The United Nations student organization provided students with refreshments between classes in the student lounge.

Overall I had a great time during my 1L year, I can only image the exciting things that this year will provide.