Catching Up with Liz Hernandez '16

Elizabeth Hernandez is making good on the fervor for public service that won her a full-ride Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Scholarship. Now well into her second year, she has co-founded the Chicago-Kent chapter of the Street Law Society, is helping to revitalize the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, and counsels at the school's Public Interest Resource Center, among many other activities. Below, she shares highlights and challenges from the past year.

How have you adapted to demanding academic expectations?

It's an evolving process because every year of law school takes on a different personality. 1L year was rigorous but instructive in that I learned how to be an effective time manager and proactive learner. This year, I've adopted a more structured routine in hopes of getting through the year that purportedly "works you to death."  I plan everything so that I can make the most out of my time. Over the weekend, I get my reading done for the week, plan out meals, and organize myself as best as I can. It may cut into my "down time" but it opens up my entire week so that I can fit in a morning run and I am not compromising sleep just to finish assignments.

What do you do for fun?

This year, I wanted to make health a priority, so I joined the Oyez Project soccer team. It's an excuse to step away from my work for a few hours and challenge myself in a different competitive setting. I enjoy the team building aspect. We started off as a group of strangers and learned to play to our strengths.

Why is having a Street Law Society at Chicago-Kent important?

As one of the Public Interest Resource Center counselors, I can attest to the vast number of students who are passionate about giving back and reinvesting in the greater Chicago community. We started Street Law because we wanted to connect Chicago-Kent students with CPS students who are interested in exploring higher ed and careers in the law. For example, this week, Street Law was at Wells High School facilitating a college essay workshop for seniors. I participated in Street Law in high school, and it was one of the formative experiences that convinced me to pursue a  J.D. I cannot rave enough about the organization and the potential reach it has. 

What has been your best experience with alumni so far?

Last summer, I participated in the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Diverse Summer Internship program. It was a fantastic opportunity to gain in-house experience as a 1L. Krystin Latusek, Chicago-Kent alumna and in-house counsel at McDonald's Corporation, was one of my assigned mentors. Over the summer, she shared many career insights with me and challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. As a recent graduate of Chicago-Kent, she was very easy to relate to. Not only did she complete her undergraduate degree and JD in five years, she has an impressive work ethic that will take her very far. I feel privileged to have her as a resource as I continue my career at Chicago-Kent.

You recently attended the Illinois Bar Foundation gala honoring Peter Birnbaum '83, as a guest of the school. What was that like?

Incredible! The IBF knows how to throw a party. It was a privilege to attend the gala and take a break from my studies. My favorite part of the evening was connecting with alumni. It was incredible to hear other attorneys highlighting the incredible body of work Peter Birnbaum has completed during his career. It was inspiring to learn that in addition to his success as an attorney, he has made public service a priority in his life. As a Marovitz Scholar, he is someone that I hope to emulate in my own life.