January 21, 2021
East Texas Baptist University’s School of Humanities seeks to communicate the practical application of its degree programs to prospective students. This year, the department added an Introduction to Law course to meet the needs of pre-law majors who are anxious about the transition from undergraduate studies to law school, and to provide a way for students interested in law to familiarize themselves with the profession in a more general way. The course was offered during the Winter Mini term, allowing for students to successfully complete the curriculum in just one week.
“We have a growing number of pre-law students on our campus, and we wanted to create a class for them to explore the challenges of law school and the opportunities they would have in practicing law,” Dean of the School of Humanities Dr. Sandy Hoover said. “These students are curious and motivated, so they were ready to start preparing more intentionally for the next steps in their training. For some, it will help them better understand how a law degree can help them pursue their calling. They might have a sense of how God is calling them to His service but may lack an understanding of exactly how they can use a law degree to answer that calling. Part of this class is intended to help them work through that.”
Adjunct Professor Katie Sanders, who also serves as Assistant District Attorney for Smith County, arranged for the class to interact with several guests with varying backgrounds and experiences to better understand the study and practice of law from different perspectives.
“In this class, we talked about the law school application process, the first year of law school, we read and discussed cases that they will review while in law school, and we simulated both a law school classroom and mock court experience,” Sanders said. “I've had law school professors and current law students Zoom into class so that there have been many perspectives provided for students. My hope for this course was to provide a glimpse to students as to what they will be learning in law school, the type of learning environment they will experience in law school, and opportunities in law school to help them better decide if it is an investment that they would like to make.”
Clay Carlile, a local lawyer in the Marshall area, serves on ETBU’s campus as an adjunct professor of political science. Mr. Carlile helped develop the Introduction to Law course and was one of the guest lecturers during the Winter Mini course, where he shared his experience as a student of humanities and his insight into the profession of law.
“The humanities are all about reading, analyzing what you’ve read, organizing your thoughts, and communicating them to others, particularly in writing,” Clay Carlile said. “Improving those skills will benefit everyone. The same reading, thinking and communicating skills apply whether you’re studying Shakespeare, or managing a project team at a large company.”
A distinctive of East Texas Baptist is the capability to adapt quickly to effectively meet the evolving academic needs of its students. The addition of this course allows ETBU’s School of Humanities to educate students on all that Humanities has to offer, no matter their chosen career path.
“All of the degrees in the Humanities are designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to be exemplary servants of their families, their communities, and God’s kingdom,” Dr. Hoover added. “We believe that a good life is built on continued personal growth, so we prepare our graduates to be excellent learners. They have the flexibility to learn new skills, problem-solve, and communicate well in a variety of professional settings. This approach to the Humanities does not tempt us to elevate ourselves above God, rather, it infuses our faculty, and hopefully our students, with a sense of humility and purpose that drives them to be the best employees, neighbors, family members, and brothers and sisters in Christ that we can be.”
With a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio, classes such as the Introduction to Law course encourage a more individualized learning experience, offering students unique access to their faculty and other academic resources. The group of students who were the first to complete the course were from various academic backgrounds, and gained further knowledge and insight into humanities and law.
“My plan after ETBU is to attend a law school so I can become an immigration attorney,” senior English major Fabiola Hernandez Cervantes said. “One of the things that I will take from Intro to Law is that if one wants to pursue a career in law, one must put in a lot of effort and have a lot of patience. Professor Sanders has put my worries at ease, she has covered things such as the process to get into law school, and this class has helped me to be less afraid of the whole process. The class was very helpful! I would definitely recommend for students who are interested in law, or even those who are not, to take this course. I learned many new things and many of my classmates who were not planning on going to law school and in other majors, found this class to be interesting. ETBU has helped me by providing courses, like Intro to Law, that helped me have a better understanding of what my future career could be like and help me have a better understanding of what I should expect and prepare for once I leave ETBU.”