The Paralegal Student Scholarship Essay topic this year was “Why Being a Paralegal Is Important To Me.”  The winning submission is courtesy of Kayla Cobler, a student in the paralegal program at Davidson County Community College. The student scholarship provides an award of $500 for tuition to a North Carolina resident enrolled in a North Carolina Qualified Paralegal Studies Program.

Why Being a Paralegal Is Important To Me

When deciding what my future might hold, I went back and forth between a teacher and a banker. I started my journey to becoming a banker at UNCG at the ripe age of 17. After a few business classes, I decided that banking wasn’t how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I enjoyed the interaction with different people on a day to day basis, but I felt like something was missing. After spending a few days upset and down with myself, confused as to what my future was really going to hold, I started digging deep and thinking about what I could see myself doing every day for the rest of my life. I wanted to do something that impacted not only my personal goals, but also impacted society. It was important to me that I chose something that did not feel like a job, but something that felt more like a hobby. No one wants to go to work every day and dread the job they have. I have watched so many of my peers go to college and earn degrees for something they have no interest in or passion for. I don’t want to go through life everyday just living the motion. I want to feel that I am impacting society and bettering myself and everyone around me on a daily basis.

I have always had a strong interest in law. When I was younger my mom always told me that one day I would make a good lawyer. I’m not sure if that was because of my intelligence or my attitude. I decided to start applying for jobs at a law firm so that I could really see if being a paralegal is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. So I applied at my current office for a legal assistant position and accepted the position in intellectual property practice group. Needless to say, I fell in love with the fast pace environment. I enjoy coming to work every day and the prospect of being faced with different challenges almost daily. Being a paralegal is more than a career, it’s a job I will truly and deeply enjoy. I work in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem supporting four attorneys. It is different than any job I have ever had before. It is fast paced, stressful and overwhelming at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. When starting as a legal assistant I never knew what this job would turn into for me. It has given me so many opportunities to advance professionally and personally, and gave me the drive to go back to school to further my career. So I started my journey in the summer of 2016 with my first set of classes for my paralegal degree. It was an easy decision to head back to school after working in the law firm for over two years.

For the first time in a long time I was confident in what I wanted my future to hold. I knew that I wanted to become a full time paralegal. In order to do that I knew I had to go back to school and further my education. I had previously had three years of undergraduate before I dropped out to really focus on what I wanted to do in life. Unfortunately, when looking into the paralegal programs, those three years were not going to help me get my degree faster. So I enrolled in community college and started my journey. I knew it would take me longer than normal because I work full time, but I was prepared to take three classes a semester. I was so proud of myself for finally making a decision on a career that I was so passionate about. It felt right. I felt as though I had conquered the world. I was getting ahead of myself. I still needed to finish the paralegal program and graduate. I sat down and figured that it would take me two to almost three years to complete my degree at the rate I was going to have to go. I knew it would take a lot of dedication and hard work to make going to school, working full time, planning a wedding and buying a house work, but I knew that being a paralegal was so close to my heart that it would be worth it.

I now have one more year of the paralegal program at Davidson County Community College to complete. The experience I have had thus far is more than I could ever put into words. I have taken so many valuable courses that will help me excel at being the very best paralegal I could possibly be. I have learned so much in my short time there from my professors and program advisors that have assured me along the way that I made the best decision possible with choosing being a paralegal as my future career. The professors, advisors and staff have encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and explore other areas of law that I was not familiar with. They have also encouraged me to be the best student I can be. The courses are very thorough and precise, something I was not expecting but also a factor I’m grateful for. At completion of this program, I am sure that I will have the confidence to take on whatever position I am offered.  I am hopeful that you will consider me for this scholarship in hopes of pursuing my dream of becoming a paralegal, impacting society, bettering myself and the community and fulfilling my childhood wish of a future in law. I have never been more sure than I am right now about my future. The feeling of finally knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life is so satisfying. I no longer have a fear of the future. This scholarship would mean a lot to me to know that others believe in me and my dream as I do. The North Carolina Bar Association is an organization that I am proud to be a part of and hope to one day become more involved with it as I evolve in my career.

Ms. Cobler is an intellectual property assistant with Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice, LLP in Winston-Salem.