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Graduate Spotlight: Staci Shelby

Staci Shelby Shares How Her LSU Experience Contributed to her Law School Acceptance
Graduate Spotlight: Staci Shelby

Staci Shelby and Dean Jonathan Earle

What does it take to get accepted into Harvard Law School? Ogden Honors College class of 2019 graduate and Frisco, TX native Staci Shelby is attending Harvard Law School in the fall. She shared how her experience writing a thesis through the Ogden Honors College and her involvement in LSU activities contributed to her success


Tell me a little about yourself and your time at LSU. Why did you choose to attend LSU?

I am from Frisco, Texas, and received a B.A. in French and a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in African & African American Studies. The first time I visited LSU was the summer before my sophomore year of high school. My family actually visited for my brother who is two years older than me. During the visit, I fell in love with the people who were extremely welcoming, the strong sense of culture in Louisiana, and the football. Because I went to an all-girls school for nine years, I never truly experienced football or school spirit. LSU easily filled that void. I also learned about the Ogden Honors College and thought that it would be the perfect place to get a balance between a large school environment with small, interesting classes that challenged me academically. I picked LSU because I thought I would be able to succeed academically but also have a balanced life filled with organizations, football games, and community service. As a freshman I joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA) where I was able to find a meaningful community within LSU. Through the sorority, I completed over 25 hours of community service a semester and traveled to various conferences. I was eventually elected to be president of the chapter in 2018. In addition to AKA, I served as a Greek Ambassador, Res Life Change Facilitator, and member of NAACP. 


Do you have any summer plans preparing for your move to Cambridge?

Through the SEO Law Fellowship Program, I am working as a summer associate at Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel LLP in New York City. I am also attending the 2019 Sidley Scholars Summer Seminar to receive information and tips about how to be successful at law school. 


Has the Ogden Honors College helped prepare you for your next steps? If so, how?

The Ogden Honors College helped prepare me for my next steps by challenging me to look at situations from others’ perspective. During my time at LSU, I took HNRS courses on subjects like civil war memory and the enslaved people that Georgetown University sold to avoid bankruptcy centuries ago. These subjects were sometimes controversial, but they forced me to think from another person's perspective. Another valuable lesson that I learned as a member of the honors college is attention to detail. As a future law student and attorney, attention to detail is crucial. While writing my thesis and several papers for different classes, I gained new editing and revision skills.


Tell me about your thesis. How has that whole process helped you?

I wrote my thesis about how the Me Too movement has dealt with the issue of prostitution, and I argued that in order to accurately follow the original goal of the movement, it must argue for the legalization of prostitution. Beyond editing and research skills, the thesis work, due to my subject, taught me a lot about how disenfranchised people's issues are discussed (or not discussed) in academia. The process of researching, writing, and editing has reinforced the importance of time management and taught me how to divide my work and time in order to avoid cramming as the due date approaches. Essentially, the process helped me get a better understanding of discipline and a better understanding of how to think about those who make decisions that the culture might deem as shameful. 


Were you involved in anything or participated in any activities at LSU that helped prepare you for this next chapter? (Were you in student government, sorority, Advocates, honors society, etc.?)

I would say the most meaningful activity I was involved in at LSU was my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Eta Kappa Chapter. The organization forced me to reach high levels of professionalism and organization while allowing me to give back to LSU and Baton Rouge through various projects. My time as president allowed me to serve as a representative and advocate for the chapter and gave me the opportunity to work with various members to facilitate programs and events. I believe that the teamwork opportunities in the sorority laid a great foundation of skills to help me as a I progress into law school and eventually a law firm. 


Why did you decide to go to law school and go that route?

I initially became interested in the law by watching television shows. I loved the thrill of the courtroom and how they put together events and fact to argue their point. As I got older, I spoke with more lawyers and understood how the law touches every industry beyond the traditional courtroom. I also learned that lawyers use skills that I truly enjoy like writing, attention to detail, problem solving, and the ability to work with several different types of people and groups. The ability to use these skills while also having the ability to work in various industries highly interests me


Do you have any advice for students deciding whether or not to apply to the Honors College?

I would advise any LSU student to 100% apply to the Ogden Honors College! It’s an opportunity to get access to unique, smaller classes and to a new network of intelligent students. For me, the Honors College was be perfect way to get both academic rigor and course diversity while also enjoying the large campus and LSU culture.


Any advice for students graduating and starting the application process for law school?

My advice to students starting the application process for law school would be to stay organized and informed, to remember that you are in charge, and to remain positive. Depending on how many schools you apply to, the process can be expensive and somewhat confusing with numerous deadlines and fees. I suggest creating an excel sheet with all schools and appropriate deadlines, fees, application requirements, and waivers to help stay organized and ensure you don’t miss anything. Also, during the process, there can be a lot of pressure from people to influence when you apply or where you apply and the most important thing to remember is that it is YOUR process. While outside help can be valuable, it can also be incredibly overwhelming and detrimental. Be confident in your decisions and don’t take every bit of advice (including mine) as law. Lastly, after applying, try to remain positive and patient as other students might get acceptances weeks or even months before you. What is for you will be for you!