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OHIO Online student leverages new skills to support legal clients

Published: March 24, 2022 Author: Staff reports

Paralegal Kate Schwartz chose the Technical and Applied Studies Program at Ohio University for pragmatic reasons, but she was pleasantly surprised to find opportunities for creativity infused in her courses. She recently leveraged that creativity, along with the knowledge and skills she picked up in her OHIO Online classes, to support the successful resolution for a client her law firm was defending. 

“I knew there would be a lot for me to learn there that would complement what I'm doing in my office management work here at this law firm,” said Schwartz, who works as a paralegal and office manager for Peterson Conners LLP in Dublin, Ohio.

Schwartz said she enjoys the opportunity to express creativity through her assignments such as business reports and other writing projects. This year she took inspiration from one of the courses taught by Dr. Donna Burgraff where students were asked to prepare informational graphics and charts, to create a courtroom graphic to share and amplify a small, but crucial amount of data in a case where her law firm was representing a defendant in a bench trial. 

“Kate provides a great example of how students take their classroom knowledge and apply it in the workplace,” said Burgraff, adding that the Technical and Applies Studies faculty work to create experiences that students can apply in their jobs.

Associate Professor Allison White said the Technical and Applied Studies program serves students like Schwartz with unique academic backgrounds and personal career experiences.

“We want to help students build on experiences by offering multiple opportunities in the courses for creativity in their assignment submissions,” said White. “It's an opportunity to learn more about them and make connections.”

When Schwartz graduates from Ohio University this spring she’ll proudly join the Bobcat alumni family, which includes one of her cousins, having never set foot on campus. The Dublin, Ohio resident will earn her bachelor’s degree in technical and applied studies from University College 25 years after graduating from high school.

She earned an associate degree in paralegal studies, from Columbus State Community College, graduating cum laude, and has been working in law offices for 20 years. Schwartz is already putting the concepts and skills she has learned in her OHIO classes to work supporting cases at Peterson Conners LLP. 

After completing her associate degree Schwartz took a few online courses at OHIO. Her advisors at Columbus State had recommended OHIO’s online program as a good option for Schwartz since she would be able to transfer her associate degree credit and transition easily into a bachelor’s degree program. She took another break in her studies along the way, deciding to resume her studies at OHIO during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a working professional and mother of a young child, Schwartz saw OHIO Online as the best option for her to earn her degree while balancing the commitments of her career and family. 

“I chose the online program because it would work so seamlessly with the home and work schedule that I already had,” Schwartz said. “I wanted to go to school, but I didn't want to disrupt the other successes that I had in my life.”

Schwartz said she values the freedom and flexibility of online classes which enables her to complete assignments at hours that fit best with her schedule. She also appreciates the support and responsiveness of her advisor and professors, especially since her online coursework relies upon electronic communication.

“Not only does the work for the Bachelor of Technical and Applied Studies build on itself in some ways, but those relationships build as well, providing a feeling of support as you go through the program,” Schwartz said.

Though juggling work, school, and family sometimes feel overwhelming, Schwartz said she tries to manage her time well using tools like her planner and breaks down projects into small goals so that she can keep progressing. 

For more information on OHIO Online programs, visit the OHIO Online website.