Emma Santos on Law, Internships, and the Value of Study Abroad

A Q&A with Emma Santos, ’20 // Law

Law major Emma Santos, ‘20, has studied abroad in two countries, and has one of the most unique internships in the state of Vermont. In this interview, we talk with Emma about her time with Champlain’s Law major, and her global and local experiences.

Q: What made you choose Champlain’s Law major?

A: I knew that I wanted to study law and that I was passionate about it, but Law as an undergraduate bachelor’s degree does not exist in collegiate institutions as a mainstream degree. Champlain’s Law major is the only one of its kind that I am aware of. We assume in the United States that you’ll wait until law school to study the law, but I didn’t want to wait and Champlain provided me with that opportunity.

Q: What have been some of the most rewarding projects you’ve done in your Law major?

A: I’ve done so many rewarding projects in my Law classes. In my Property Law class, our final assignment was to conduct a title search on a property. This is such a practical and useful skill that I have already been taught. I also already know how to write case briefs, memorandums of law, motions, and post-conviction relief petitions. I’m currently taking Wills, Trusts, and Estates, and as the name implies, I’m learning how to write a will, a trust, and to conduct estate planning. The practical legal knowledge I have gained is a skill I can translate into any career I choose to do.

Champlain College student, Emma Santos

Q: Can you tell us about your internship? What has that experience been like?

A: I intern at the Champlain College Prisoner Rights Law Initiative. One of my professors is the sole legal educator within the prisons of the state of Vermont. Together, we visit prisons across Vermont and teach classes on different legal subjects, including sentencing, probation, and parole. Most recently, I helped put together a new manual that we’re currently teaching from for a class on post-conviction relief. We also attend law library sessions at the different facilities to help inmates conduct legal research. Being able to teach and interact with this population in a positive way has been a dream opportunity. 

I believe this internship is one of the few of its kind at the undergraduate level.

Q: Did you study abroad?

A: Twice. Many of the second and third year core classes have travel components built into the class which enable students to have a ten-day, mini-abroad experience that connects and adds to the experience of a class. During my sophomore year I took Heroes and Heroines: The Arabian Nights, and as part of the class we traveled to Jordan over spring break. This was my first time on a plane and going to another country. I had the most incredible time visiting ancient Roman ruins, riding camels in the desert, and swimming in the Dead Sea. The summer after my sophomore year, I studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland for two months, during which time I took two classes. I had a wonderful experience filled with exploration and educational experiences that I will always cherish.

Q: What’s something surprising/you didn’t expect to come out of your time at college?

A: How much I would grow personally. This seems silly since we obviously evolve as we get older, but who I am at the end of my junior year is leaps and bounds from when I first started at Champlain at age 17.

Q: What advice do you have for future Champlain students?

A: Make a space for yourself. Explore different things and try activities you might not think are for you. What you get out of your education and time at Champlain, like anything, is what you put into it.

Want to explore our unique approach to an undergraduate Law education? Come visit our beautiful campus and explore all that this program has to offer!

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