Winds of Change - Summer 2017 - 32

yourself back. If you're not sure whether you
should apply for an internship or scholarship
or award - apply! Minimum requirements
aren't always set in stone, so why not give it
your best shot? The worst thing that can
happen is that they politely say no, and maybe
you get some constructive feedback in the
process. It's always worth a try.

❚ MITCHELL HAMLINE
INDIAN LAW PROGRAM
At Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St.
Paul, Minn., students have both traditional
full-time and part-time enrollment options.
They learn from professors with a background working with tribes, nonprofit
organizations, the Department of Justice, and
private firms with Indian law practices.
A popular choice at Mitchell Hamline is the
online/campus Hybrid J.D. program - the
first and only program of its kind at an
American Bar Association-approved law
school. Students enrolled in the four-year
Hybrid J.D. curriculum attend on-campus
classes for an intensive week (Sunday through
Saturday) every semester, and complete most
of the remaining coursework online. The
program includes eligibility for a Native Justice
Scholarship and ensures that students will pay
no more than $10,000 in tuition each year.
To be eligible for the scholarship, students
must enroll in the Hybrid J.D. program,
pursue the Indian law track, and be a member
of a federally recognized tribe or Alaska
Native entity, be recognized by an American
Indian or Alaska Native community as
American Indian, or demonstrate a strong
interest in practicing Indian law.
ASK A PARTICIPANT
Marisa Ring and Dominic Terry are both
Native Justice Scholarship recipients enrolled
in Mitchell Hamline's Hybrid J.D. program.
Ring lives in Duluth, Minn., with her two
children and works for the American Indian
Community Housing Organization. Terry
lives in St. Paul, Minn., with his wife and two
sons and is a law clerk for Ramsey County.
Both hope to pursue careers that include
specialization in Indian Child Welfare Act
(ICWA) cases. We asked them to share their
insights about Mitchell Hamline and Indian
law career opportunities.

wanted to do with a law
Dominic
degree. Then I started a
Terry
family, and began working
with Native students at
UMD's Center of American
Indian and Minority
Health. There I became
familiar with Indian law,
and started to feel the pull
in that direction. The
opportunities at Mitchell
Hamline made it possible
for me to do that while also
working and living in
Duluth, where there are no law schools.
DT: I mostly grew up in Las Vegas, N.M., and
was one of the only Native Americans in a
largely Hispanic population. After attending
community college, I moved to Albuquerque,
N.M., where I worked full time and took
classes part time at the University of New
Mexico (UNM). I wanted to gain a skill that
would put me in a better position for a good
job, so after a year I enrolled in the Central
New Mexico Community College paralegal
program. Once I had my paralegal degree, I
returned to UNM to complete my undergraduate courses. I aspired to go to law school, but
it seemed like a distant possibility. Then my
wife and I moved to St. Paul around the time
Mitchell Hamline launched the Hybrid J.D.
program. The program and the Native Justice
Scholarship presented a huge opportunity.
What do you find especially valuable
about the Hybrid J.D. program and your
Native Justice Scholarship?
MR: The scholarship is for students

committed to serving Native communities,
and that's important to me. Of course, it's
significant that I can go right into work
without big student debt. It also speaks to
the school's values. The faculty members are
brilliant and care so much about us being
able to make a difference out there. They
make sure we meet our peers on campus

and through organizations
like the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association.
Already, I feel like I'm part
of a profession.
DT: I've always been sort of a
nontraditional student, and
the flexibility for me is so
valuable. I'm working full
time as a law clerk, and I'm a
husband and father to two
sons. In this program, I can
make it all work; it's a
best-possible scenario. Not
only does it make my legal education
accessible and affordable, it offers a tremendous focus on Indian law. I'm able to have
this concentration in an area of law that's very
important to me.
How has your experience so far
influenced your career aspirations?
MR: I'm very interested in two areas of law.

One is ICWA work. In Minnesota, the child
welfare system is disproportionately
populated with Native children. The families
really need resources and advocates in their
efforts to seek reunification. I'm also
interested in domestic violence law, which is
the focus of my current job. At Mitchell
Hamline, I've already had a lot of access to
two faculty members who are experts in both
these areas, which has been awesome as I
develop my skills and career plan.
DT: I'm also interested in ICWA work, and
that's the result of my own experiences as well
as my Indian law education at Mitchell
Hamline. Previously I went through the foster
care process to gain guardianship of my
nephew, whom I really wanted to be part of
my family and to know his heritage. I learned
so much about the rules and procedures
around Indian child placement, and now in
my work as a law clerk, I help handle their
ICWA cases involving children who are
placed outside the home. My goal is to

Mitchell Hamline
Indian Law
Program student
Ava Marie
Cavaco

How did you become interested in
Indian law and Mitchell Hamline?
MR: I first became interested in law school

when I was a political science major at the
University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD).
At the time, I didn't know exactly what I
32 WINDS OF CHANGE * SUMMER 2017

aises.org

COURTESY OF DOMINIC TERRY (TOP); COURTESY OF MITCHELL HAMLINE SCHOOL OF LAW (BOTTOM)

CONTINUED FROM page 31


http://www.aises.org

Winds of Change - Summer 2017

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