First-year student Christina Billhartz
explains that her path to law school was not a straightforward one, but a scholarship made a big difference, and she couldn't be happier to be at Arizona Law.
Following high school here in Tucson, she worked full-time for about five years to save money to continue her education. She began by taking classes at Pima Community College and eventually transferred to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU.
She began developing an interest in the law as an undergraduate. As a Pima student, she interviewed several survivors of the January 8, 2011, shooting in Tucson. As an ASU student, she studied abroad in London in the summer of 2017, interviewing survivors of a number of terrorist attacks there.
Of these experiences, Christina says,
"While I loved being a journalist and telling the stories of individuals who needed the world to hear their voices, I continually felt like I wanted to be able to do more to help. I didn't want to just have to be objective -- I wanted to be involved. I wanted to advocate and defend."
When Christina returned from London, she began to research applying to law school, but with no certainty about how to pay her way while studying full-time. She applied to the University of Arizona College of Law because of its record for providing financial assistance and scholarships. Additionally, she says, as a native Tucsonan, she was eager to build connections and hopes to eventually practice law in her hometown.
Scholarships made the difference. Without the Tracy Earl Memorial Scholarship, Christina says, she would not be in law school today.
"As a first-generation college student who grew up in a mobile home on a dead end in the middle of the desert, I never thought I would have this opportunity. Knowing that someone was willing to put their faith in me and pay for me to be here has further motivated me to do the absolute best that I can and to take advantage of every opportunity that the school offers."
Christina says her first year at Arizona Law has so far been an incredible experience, largely due to the professors.
"They are incredible sources of knowledge and experience, and their doors are ALWAYS open. And, they genuinely care about their students. It continually amazes me that every time I go to a new professor's office hours, they always take at least a few minutes to get to know me as a person before they even let me ask class-related questions. Shout out to Professor Jane Bambauer, Dean Catherine O'Grady, Professor Robert Williams, Professor Joy Herr-Cardillo, and Professor Andrew Coan!"
She also is enthusiastic about the many learning and career development opportunities outside of classwork.
"I've been able to watch lawyers present oral arguments in front of the Arizona Supreme Court in one of our classrooms. I signed up for the mock interview program, and I ended up being interviewed by Chief Justice Scott Bales!"
Christina's goal is to one day be a judge.
"I know that it will be a long road to get there. In the meantime, I would love to end up doing some form of civil rights or civil liberties litigation."
Besides the law, Christina's two great loves are animals and books.
"I have never found a book that I was not willing to read, or an animal that I was not willing to help. Along the way, I've picked up over 600 books (so far) and five rescue animals (ranging from dogs to chinchillas and tortoises).
The most recent addition to my family is a stray miniature poodle that we found in the rubble of the 2017 Puebla Earthquake in Mexico. A year and a half later, and she is doing great."
Christina, I am glad you are here, back home in Tucson, and that your first year has been so engaging. And there is so much more great learning, wonderful faculty, and deep engagement to come.