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Learning Communities and Dean's Fellows

Learning Communities

The University of Dayton School of Law is committed to providing all incoming law students with the foundational skills necessary for success through placement in a Learning Community. Each Learning Community consists of approximately 8 to 10 students and is led by Dean’s Fellows, upper-level students selected for their academic achievement, commitment to the Law School community, aptitude for expert learning strategies, and interest in education.

Dean’s Fellows work with the Law School’s Academic Success department and the 1Ls doctrinal professors and assist students in developing effective strategies to maximize the opportunity for academic success.

Throughout the semester, Dean’s Fellows facilitate a 60-minute session for their Learning Community. While not providing substantive legal instruction, Dean’s Fellows assist students in developing the five general skill areas that first-year students need to be successful in their studies: (1) time management; (2) note-taking; (3) reading and briefing cases; (4) synthesizing (weekly review and outlining); and (5) test-taking strategies.

The Learning Communities also encourage and promote students’ participation in various professionalism and career services activities and workshops to ensure that 1Ls are not just proficient in the classroom, but are healthy and well-rounded law students that the Law School cultivates and honors.

Participation in a Learning Community during the first semester of Law School is a graduation requirement for all students.

How can I become a Dean's Fellow?

2021 Dean's Fellows

The University of Dayton School of Law is proud to present the Dean's Fellows:

The Paul McGreal Fellow
Emily Smith

My favorite part of law school is how it made me grow as a person, and how much fun it can be. Law school has already made such a huge impact on every aspect of my life. I want to help students grow and thrive, even through the trying times. I am enthusiastic about the idea of serving the UDSL’s Academic Success Program. I see how much potential the program has for our student body and want to offer my creativity and organization to make it better.

Online Hybrid
Wendell Beres

I believe that the greatest asset anyone joining the Hybrid JD Program can have, is the ability to talk to someone who has lived it recently and can reassure them that they are not alone. I have found that reassurance from three fellow cohort members, who I now consider and expect to be close, lifelong friends, despite having yet to see what they look like below the neck! I would like to help the next class develop those same relationships, while also having a reliable source to guide them through the intimidation of being a 1L, while maintaining their work-life balance with a third dimension that is equally unpredictable.

Jessica Carmichael

Having experienced the benefits of the Hybrid program, I want to see the program and students succeed into the future. For my classmates and myself, law school would not be possible with out the program, and I want to help the next class be able to succeed. I feel that because I am also a Hybrid student, I am in a better place to relate with and answer the questions of incoming Hybrid students.

Brendan Keegan

As a Hybrid student, I am able to appreciate the difficulties of balancing a full-time job while taking the required courses in the part-time program. Since some of the incoming and new Hybrid students might not fully understand the demands of this program, I believe it is the obligation of current students to impart the knowledge, experience, and study habits that we currently use daily in our classes to them.

Wendy Palmer

I am so very happy with the hybrid program and I want to see this program and the students in it succeed. I want to help the next class of hybrid students adjust to the demands of law school and the changes that the first semester will bring to their lives. The hybrid program is unique in that many of the students have had various life experiences before attending law school. Many will be juggling full-time jobs and/or family obligations, as I have done successfully this past year. I would like to use my many life experiences and my past year of experience as a hybrid law student to encourage and mentor the next class of hybrid students.

Fall
Marin Cofrancesco

Law school incites incredibly strong emotions. It can break students down and make them give up. We are taught that we must eat, sleep, and breathe law school. To an extent – that is true. Everything in life requires balance. I believe that I can provide a healthy mindset to incoming 1L’s to help them conquer law school and exceed their potential. To me, the most exciting this about being a Dean’s Fellow is meeting the incoming class and truly helping guide them through their studies.

JP Jarecki

As a 1L, I experienced (as everyone did) that anxiety that comes along with starting law school. For me, this was slightly heightened by the fact that I knew I would be taking classes online, which seemed like a giant hurdle at the time. But with the help of my Dean’s Fellow, I realized that I could succeed if I focused, paid close attention to my readings, and made sure not to fall behind, online or not. From my own experience as a 1L, I’ve developed a strong appreciation for the Dean’s Fellow program and feel as though I am in a strong position to give back to a support structure that made all of the difference for me.

Deztany Johnson

When I came to UDSL, I was impressed by the fact they even had Dean’s Fellows and even more so by the caliber of people they were. I remember thinking right off the bat, “I want to be them my 2L year.” Coming into the unknown environment of law school and not knowing what to expect, the Dean’s Fellows were calming during a tumultuous time. While I have had many “learning opportunities” in my 1L year, I have had fundamentally more success. As a Dean’s Fellow, I want to help people navigate those “learning opportunities” and grow from them. Additionally, I want to take my experience and help them transition into their 1L year. But most of all, I want to provide 1Ls with a sense of reassurance that the Dean’s Fellows have given me. I will be honest with oncoming students that law school is not easy, and there is no one path to success. But I will promise them there is an individual who is willing to help them along the way if they are willing to put in the work.

Allison Mauk

As a Dean’s Fellow, I want to support incoming first-year students. I don’t believe the mental challenges of law school are talked about as much as the academic and I want to make sure there is an environment available to discuss these experiences and offer support. I understand what it is like to move from an academic environment where my course work came easily, to an environment where the courses are more rigorous. I would love the opportunity to create a space for students to learn about the tools they need to be successful while also providing support about issues they are facing and showing that they are not alone.

Grace Njagi

From an early age, I knew that one of my goals in life was to do the best I could to help people – especially those people in need of it. That is when I decided to go to law school. Law school has been one of the most challenging experiences I have ever faced. I've had the opportunity to share with other students what worked for me and what did not work for me and encourage them that they can also set goals for themselves and achieve in their academics what may seem like the impossible. 

Radhika Shukla

One lesson that I have discovered while going through my 1L year is that your attitude towards a situation can make wonders happen. I strongly believe and understand that law school is challenging. However, if you train your mind to stay positive and not fall into the trap of “this is really hard,” you can achieve a lot more than you think. As law students, we all have the tendency of labeling our lives as “stressful” or “hard.” While this may be true during midterm week, it does not always have to be true. Stress, complex schedules, and exams are manageable with the right advice and experiences. I am excited to be a Dean’s Fellow because I love the opportunity to advise and train new law students regarding the challenges they face.

Jordan Staley

My 1L year turned out to be rather enjoyable, all I needed was the right perspective, and I hope I can pass that along. UDSL is a special school, and I feel a passion to convey that to new students. Everyone should feel welcomed and invited to succeed here. If I could provide that feeling for new students, my contribution will be met.

Nick Taylor

The lessons I have learned from sports have followed me into law school. I realized early on in law school that I would not be successful focusing solely on myself. The daily rigor of being a law student became a team activity with some of my closest friends. We took on every case, class, day, and week together as a team. My goal is that 1L's look to me as a "teammate" that assists them in finding success and happiness in law school. Through this, we can all continue to grow and develop within UDSL's communal environment.

Summer
Courtney Strickland

At first, I was underwhelmed with Learning Community. All I could think about each time we met on Friday’s was that I had 1000 other things I needed to be doing. I didn’t think I needed someone to tell me how to be a “good” law student. But then, one Friday, my Dean's Fellow said something to me that I will never forget. That law school is a big deal, but it is “NOT EVERYTHING.” I actually remember the breath I took after he uttered these words, my shoulders relaxed. I reminded myself that I loved learning and that I should enjoy the experience. I really began to see the value in Learning Community.

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