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Justice Forte

From Community
to a Career

Finding Community Far from Home

New Jersey to Nebraska

– Justice Forte –

I’m from New Jersey, so coming to Nebraska I was really nervous because I wasn’t going to know anybody in this region of the country at all.

I got a pamphlet from Nebraska in the mail and applying here was never something that occurred to me but my dad said, “You have to apply here. This is a big-time school.” I applied—but I applied to 26 other schools, too.

When I came out to visit, everybody in the Omaha airport was smiling at me as soon as I got off the plane, which was kind of a foreign thing because no one smiles at the airport in Newark.

Right away, I knew that if I were going to be far from home, this would be the place to do it. Everybody’s really friendly and it was easy to get acclimated to life here, and the learning community program was a big help with that.

“Right away, I knew that if I were going to be far from home, this would be the place to do it.”

— Justice Forte

Something for Everybody

I’ve known for a really long time that I wanted to study law, so when I was looking at housing options and saw that there was a pre-law learning community in the residence halls, I signed up for it. With learning communities, you have at least one class your first semester with the other people on your floor. So for my first class ever at the university, I got to go with my roommate and everybody who lived near me in the residence hall. We all got to figure out how to get there together.

It was really nice, especially the first couple weeks, to be able to have this group of people to do things with. On our floor, everybody had their doors open all the time and people would just pop in and talk to me, which was really nice as I got used to not having my family and friends nearby anymore.

Nebraska has 24 learning communities, so there’s pretty much something for everybody. I was in the pre-law one, so there were students in our learning community who were political science, communication studies, global studies and sociology majors. The learning communities are not all academic either. There’s one for outdoor activities, one for leadership and diversity skills, a service learning community, etc. Really, anything you’re interested in, whether it’s academic or an extracurricular, there’s a community that you fall into.

For pre-law, we had a seminar once a week with the assistant dean of admissions at the law school, Tracy Warren. We got to learn from somebody who looks at applicants for the law school, and hear all of the different things we should be doing from our first days at Nebraska to be successful law school applicants, and someday, successful attorneys.

One of the engineering learning communities is focused on sports and their mentor is a former Husker football player who was also an Olympian and is an engineer now. The learning communities really connect you with people who have done what you’re trying to do and can help you get to the point where you’re actually out in the world doing it.

We also got to meet with different professionals in Lincoln who are using their law degrees to see the different ways we can apply our degrees after college. We met with a state senator and the Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court who talked about nerdy law stuff. The experiences made me think, “These are all the different things I could do going forward.” Because of my connections, I had the tools to start working toward that.

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More than classes and homework

When I came to Nebraska, I really didn’t know how it was going to be different than high school. I thought I’d just go to class, get good grades, maybe play a sport and do my homework— but Nebraska gives you so many different opportunities and connects you to so many people. It has resulted in a lot of opportunities and experiences I didn’t expect to have.

It’s all helping me build my resume in really cool and helpful ways. I’m making myself a more competitive applicant for law school, which is definitely the goal. Eight years from now, hopefully I’ll be an attorney and all the experiences I’m having in various areas will be really useful.

I’m very close with my family, and I had a really good group of friends at home. It was really strange to come to Nebraska and be in a place where I didn’t know anybody. But to come and right away have all these different activities to do and people to help has been really valuable to me.