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First-generation college grad earns juris master degree

A. Kenyatta Greer |
Juris master graduate
Sarah J. White 19L

“It depends.” As a student in Emory Law’s juris master graduate program for non-lawyers, Sarah J. White 19L has learned many things, including the value of the statement “it depends.” Few things are black-and-white, and an education in the law has taught her how variables can affect the outcome of any story – including her own.

White wanted to be a doctor when she was a child. Her parents bought her a white coat and stethoscope, both of which she used while “treating” her puppies. As she grew older and decided to study criminal justice in both undergraduate and graduate school at the University of Mississippi, she realized that her passion is in the law. She says that after earning her master’s degree, she found that her “curiosity was not cured.” That’s when she learned about Emory Law’s juris master program and applied. She says that deciding to come to Emory was a “no-brainer,” considering its reputation as one of the top law schools in the nation.

While in her program she was a student fellow in the Office of Admission and the JM representative to the Student Bar Association. She was simultaneously a teaching facilitator at Emory’s Goizueta Business School.

During her matriculation, she has learned more than what was in her text books and lectures. “Emory has grown me as a person,” she says, adding that she was able to excel at school and life because of the emotional and mental support her parents provided and through the support of colleagues, professors, and mentors, as well. “My family is so proud of me. They are so very excited to see their daughter, a first-generation graduate, graduate from both graduate school and law school. Unfortunately this semester, my father passed away. He won’t be physically here to cheer me on, but I know he is here in spirit, ever so proud of Ya-Boo.”

White says she hopes to elevate how a juris master degree is perceived and used in the workplace. “I plan to break barriers of what people think a juris master degree brings to the legal profession. I tell people that [juris master recipients] are between a paralegal and an acting attorney, but even that puts a limit on our abilities. The possibilities are endless. As of now, I am about to begin work with the Bobby Dodd Institute as a family support legal liaison.”