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Athenians Sydnei Jones '17 and Kimberly Vargas '17 were among leading political science students from across the nation to attend a legal seminar in Washington, D.C. The trip included a visit to the Supreme Court and a meeting with Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Athenians in D.C.: Women, Law & Legal Advocacy

For an aspiring legal scholar, there’s nothing quite so thrilling as a face-to-face meeting with a Supreme Court justice. This fall, two Athenians did just that – thanks to Mount Saint Mary’s University’s partnership with the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN).

In October, juniors Sydnei Jones ’17 and Kimberly Vargas ’17 – both double-majors in political science and philosophy – earned full scholarships to attend PLEN’s “Women, Law and Legal Advocacy Seminar.”  

The seminar enabled the students to travel from Los Angeles to the nation’s capital, where they joined with other rising pre-law and political science students from across the country. Together, they explored the connections between legal careers and the legislative process, and were exposed to a range of professional opportunities in the law, from issue advocacy to government service.

The students were also able to connect with women leaders throughout the legal branch of the federal government. And, yes, one particularly memorable moment came when Jones and Vargas had the chance to tour the Supreme Court, and meet Justice Sonia Sotomayor – the first Latina Supreme Court justice in U.S. history. 

“The entire experience taught me that women like myself are achieving the extraordinary every day,” Jones says.

The seminar was the just the latest benefit of the Mount’s longstanding connection with PLEN, the only national organization solely focused on preparing college women for leadership in the public policy arena. For 35 years, PLEN has brought thousands of women from across the country to Washington, D.C., to explore careers in government, nonprofit organizations and private-sector fields that effect public policy in the nation.  

The University has been a member of the PLEN consortium for more than 20 years. Each year, the Mount’s Women’s Leadership and Student Involvement program awards scholarships to undergraduate students to attend PLEN seminars in Washington, D.C. The goal: To have students leave Washington with increased knowledge of the way that policy is crafted, and with increased confidence in their ability to start careers in public policy.

“Attending the PLEN seminar for Legal Advocacy is a great experience for anyone thinking about any area of the law,” Vargas says. “Our time there was packed with tools that I can now use to succeed. It’s another great program to empower women to reach their full potential.”

The next PLEN seminar available to Mount Saint Mary’s students will take in Spring 2016. Applications are due in January 2016 for the “Women in STEM Policy Seminar.” Contact the Mount’s Women’s Leadership and Student Involvement office for more information: 310.954.4350 or leadership@msmu.edu.  

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