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Current Legal Studies Student Interviews Alumni
Minire Seferaj used her opportunity at ASA College to change her life. She spoke with current Legal Studies student Shadeesha Brown about her experience at ASA and how it set her up for success. Ms. Seferaj’s message to current students is clear: develop your written communication skills, gain experience, and don’t ever give up. Ms. Brown said, “I’m really glad we got the chance to speak with Minire today, and really glad that future students will get to hear her message and story and learn from it.”
Ms. Seferaj’s story began in 2007 when she was in the NYC shelter system, with four children, as a victim of domestic violence. She walked by ASA College one summer day, they were handing out informational flyers, and she said, “Let me just try and see what’s up.” She took the ATB placement test, and entered a program that allowed her to complete a high school equivalency and also earn an associates degree. By her second semester she had joined the work study program, which led to her being hired as an administrative assistant upon graduation. She says that her time at ASA College prepared her for her bachelor’s degree at Berkley College and her current career as an office manager for a law firm. The difference maker for Ms. Seferaj was the environment created by the professors, “Here, they’re more on top of you. They’re really on top of you. Any other college…you’re just a number. (At ASA) they actually know you by your name. It’s more family oriented.”
Two of the instructors that made her feel taken care of were professor Dwyer and professor Harvey. Above all, these teachers reviewed and commented on her every writing assignment with a great deal of personal attention. Looking back on it, Ms. Seferaj is very thankful that professor Dwyer, who is an attorney, held her to professional standards because, “…especially in the paralegal program, you’re constantly writing documents. You’re drafting documents, you have to know how to write, you have to know how to write. You have to know how to put the words together and be concise.” Ms. Seferaj said that even getting an “F” on her first term paper for failing to use proper in-text citations now feels like a valuable lesson about maintaining professional standards. The department Chair let her make the paper up because, as she said, “I was so destroyed first semester here. I hadn’t been in school for 12 years.” As she sees it, it was another step towards her eventual success.
The Legal Studies department also provided her with valuable institutional experience by hiring her as an Administrative Assistant. During her time working for the Chair, she was able to learn how large professional organizations conduct business. Previously, she’d only worked in the small business setting as a limousine dispatch operator. At ASA, like any college or university, documents have to be prepared in such a way as to protect the confidentiality of the student. As she explained, “(confidentiality) that’s very important in the legal field, and working here, people’s academic grades can’t have stuff out, documents have to be filed correctly.” In addition to developing “hard skills” like writing, current students should build their “soft skill” knowledge about things like organizational rules and behaviors.
Ms. Seferaj said that she does what she does because she enjoys it, and that she sees her success in her children who are now building towards professional careers of their own. “Because again, at the end of the day when they see mommy doing what she’s got to do, they’re doing what they got to do.” She hopes to take all that she’s mastered while working in the legal field here in New York to eventually work at a firm outside of New York. This future forward approach to life is what led Ms. Seferaj from a very difficult situation to ASA College and beyond. She hopes that all current students understand, “Don’t ever give up. When your time is time, it will come. Just don’t stop. Keep that grind.”
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