Michael Reed uses interdisciplinary studies degree to pursue law school dreams

Nov 17, 2022
Michael Reed, Newman University alumnus

Newman alumnus Michael Reed ’18, ’19 never thought he’d go to law school.

Yet here he is, three years in at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. 

Reed started his law studies in 2020 at the peak of the pandemic and is readying to graduate this May. Prior to law school, Reed earned an associate degree in paralegal studies from Newman in 2018 and a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in 2019. His wife, Lucy, graduated from Newman’s nursing program the year after. 

Reed’s journey leading up to his college endeavors is an interesting one. The Philadelphia native dropped out of high school. Later, he realized he wanted to join the Army but needed a high school diploma, so he worked toward it through a community college program. Before enlisting, though, Reed attended culinary school and worked as a cook in a few restaurants but didn’t end up graduating. The Army called his name. 

Michael Reed and his wife, Lucy
Michael Reed and his wife, Lucy (Courtesy photo)

“The Army stationed me in Fort Riley, Kansas,” Reed said. “I had never been to Kansas before, but I grew to love it. I met my wife, who was also stationed at Fort Riley, and we decided once our enlistments were up, we would stay in Kansas.”

While both Michael and Lucy graduated from Newman, they started their studies at Wichita State University. 

“I left WSU in order to attend Newman’s paralegal program, and my wife left WSU for Newman because of the great reputation of the nursing program,” Reed explained. “We both found a welcoming community at Newman, and its smaller size allowed us to grow.”

Reed added that Newman stood out to him because it was the only school in Wichita that offered an associate degree in paralegal studies

“I called Kristi Barton Edwards, who ran the paralegal program at the time,” he said. “She was incredibly helpful and helped me get started right away. Once I stepped foot into my first paralegal class, everything changed.”

Reed continued, “I enjoyed every paralegal class. It was an entirely new feeling. I couldn’t wait to dive into the information and learn more.”

Toward the end of his paralegal studies, Reed started working at a law firm in order to meet his internship requirement. His colleagues would often ask him if he was attending law school or had plans to. 

Reed and his family at his son's school promotion ceremony. (Courtesy photo)
Reed and his family at his son’s school promotion ceremony. (Courtesy photo)

“I never thought about law school before this,” Reed said. “Growing up, I never knew any lawyers. There were no lawyers in my family; we were a blue-collar family.” 

So, at first, Reed was dismissive of the question. But then he started to think, “Could I go to law school? Would it actually be too difficult?”

“I started to look into the process and decided that my passion for law was enough to try it out,” he said. “Just a few months after feeling so burnt out, I called Teresa Wilkerson, director of adult and continuing studies, to help me figure out what the quickest way to get my bachelor’s degree was.”

Ultimately, Wilkerson was instrumental in Reed’s path to law school. 

“She listened to my story with enthusiasm and helped guide me in the right direction that would best help me achieve my law school dreams,” he said. “She suggested I finish my degree through the interdisciplinary studies program. It was the perfect fit for my situation, and I am thankful she guided me to it.”

Reed added, “Through her mentorship, I was able to receive my degree in interdisciplinary studies, with an emphasis in business and law. Her positivity and suggestions helped make my dream a reality.”

Teresa Wilkerson listened to my story with enthusiasm and helped guide me in the right direction that would best help me achieve my law school dreams.

Michael Reed ’18, ’19

Now as a law school student, Reed has had the opportunity to work for the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) through its summer law internship program. 

“The internship was with the civil trial section of the tax division,” he said. “I was able to work with many DOJ attorneys and help them with all sorts of interesting tax issues. It was a great experience that really solidified my passion for tax law, and it helped me decide to really focus on tax law as a career.”

Once he graduates from law school this coming spring, Reed plans to move back to the Midwest (he and his wife and two sons currently live in Philadelphia) and work in tax law. He’d eventually like to own his own law firm. 

And for any Newman student who might be interested in learning more about law school, Reed would be happy to chat and provide any advice he can. They can reach out to him on his LinkedIn.

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