Five students from the Chadron State College Justice Studies program have been accepted into law school programs for the coming school year, including one who is a member of the first cohort in the Rural Law Opportunities Program (RLOP).
Cheng (Kevin) Zhang of Alliance, who was already attending CSC when he was accepted to the initial RLOP group for the fall 2017 semester, will start at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law this fall.
Fellow Justice Studies graduate Mikaela Fatzinger of Thornton, Colo., will be going to the University of Colorado Law School, Demonte Noble of Baltimore, Md., will attend Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Colley Law School, and Clayton Hinman of Chadron will pursue his studies at the University of South Dakota School of Law. Also, Todd Roenfeldt of Cozad has been accepted to the UNL College of Law.
RLOP is an initiative aimed at increasing the number of lawyers practicing in rural Nebraska communities by offering undergraduate tuition, mentoring, law school visits and provisional acceptance into UNL’s law college upon graduation, provided a student maintains a 3.5 grade point average and earns a specified minimum score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
Impetus for developing the program came from the Nebraska State Bar Association, which says that not all Nebraskan’s have adequate access to legal services since 11 of the state’s 93 counties have no lawyers at all and 20 others have three or fewer attorneys.
Started at CSC, Wayne State College and the University of Nebraska Kearney last fall, RLOP is patterned after the successful Rural Health Opportunities Program that CSC pioneered with the University of Nebraska Medical School in 1990.
Zhang, a first generation immigrant who hopes to practice immigration and criminal law, said that faculty support, an LSAT prep course and the visit to the UNL law school offered through RLOP were particularly useful for him.
“That (campus visit) helps RLOP students connect with UNL law. I was able to talk with UNL law admissions during the trip,” Zhang said. “RLOP is a wonderful program that helps you succeed at CSC and save budget before going to law school.”
Zhang and the other CSC graduates who will be pursuing law degrees this fall were effusive in their praise of the Justice Studies program and faculty.
“They truly go above and beyond being just educators,” said Hinman, “The Justice Studies faculty has enabled me to strive towards my greatest potential and they have been role models anyone can look up to.”
Fatzinger added she wouldn’t have been as successful without the Justice Studies faculty. Roenfeldt said he feels more prepared for law school because of the quality of instruction he received.
Anyone interested in studying law at UNL should consider applying to the RLOP, said Zhang. “Don’t miss RLOP if you want to pursue a law career. UNL is a great law school and there are countless opportunities in rural Nebraska,” he said. “I am so grateful that I am the first RLOP student who graduates who is going to UNL law.”
—George Ledbetter, College Relations