As a two-time alumna of Hodges University, Lisa Cook cannot say enough good things about her alma mater. As an adjunct faculty member in Hodges’ legal studies program, she is grateful to serve in a position that enables her to give back and hopefully inspire other students in their future career aspirations.
“I enjoyed my time at Hodges so much. If I could have gone to law school at Hodges, I would have,” she said.
For someone so passionate about the legal field, Cook didn’t start out looking to become a lawyer. Instead, her interests were in accounting and finance. However, after visiting a friend in Canada for six months, she returned home for a short time before preparing to go back to Canada, or so she thought.
Due to her back and forth trips across borders, Cook was flagged by immigration, as they felt she did not have strong enough ties to the United States and questioned her reasoning for traveling to Canada. “I was considering going to school there and being an international student,” she explained.
Hiring an attorney, she became intrigued by immigration law, asking herself, “How many other people deal with this?” Deciding this would become her new career path, she moved from Michigan to Florida to be with her mother and began looking at schools offering a paralegal studies program. She started at Edison State College but was referred to Hodges because of its Associate in Science in paralegal studies program.
“That was the best decision I ever made,” she said of coming to Hodges. “The moment I walked in the door, I was never a number. The people at Hodges looked at me as a person.”
Earning her associate degree in paralegal studies, as well as a bachelor’s degree in legal studies in 2011, she enrolled at Ave Maria School of Law, earning her Juris Doctor in 2015.
“The classes I took at Hodges really prepared me for the transition into law school,” she said. “The whole Reading, Writing and Advocacy (RWA) aspect provided me the fundamental knowledge I needed for law school, but I knew the skills I learned would assist me no matter what I chose to pursue in the legal field.”
Reflecting on her experience as a student, Cook strives to provide her students with the same fundamental knowledge and skill sets, all while offering the same assistance and personalized approach she received during her time at Hodges.
From learning a female’s perspective in a predominantly male field from Dr. Charlene Wendel to assisting Dr. Andrew Weyl with research for his courses, Cook looks to both as mentors who guided her through her educational journey.
Although living in Alabama makes it impossible to have the face-to-face interaction with her students as she received from Weyl and Wendel, Cook is determined to make the online experience as interactive and engaging as possible.
“I make myself available to my students. Even if I’m at work, they can call me anytime. Plus, I make short videos of myself teaching and explaining some of the material, as well as uploading YouTube videos to help show a bit of my personality to them,” she explained.
Just as many Hodges professors tend to do, Cook’s discussions often surround real-world scenarios with students begging the question, “How does what the law says actually apply in the real world?” Discussing everything from the various types of business entities and how they function in the world to how individuals enter into contracts on a daily basis without even thinking about it, the practical application of how the law works becomes manageable for students to understand.
“I really want to open their eyes a bit. How many times do we go online and accept Terms of Agreement? Most of us never read them, we just accept them and move on. Or what about a receipt from the grocery store? That’s a contract,” said Cook.
While many of her students express a desire to enter law school one day, others are looking to advance within the legal field. From serving as a legal assistant or paralegal to working in government or public service, the legal studies program gives students a competitive edge when entering the workforce.
“Of the schools I’ve attended, Hodges is, by far, the best university because of the personalized attention you receive. As a teacher, I want to be that person for someone else – that individual who inspires and takes the time to really help the students.”