Friday, February 21, 2014

Leadership lived: Hands on experience prepares student for law school


Michelle Tuma loves to apply what she’s learning in the classroom. At the University of Illinois Springfield, she’s been given that opportunity.

The junior political science and legal studies major from Elgin chose UIS because of its location in the state capital and personal learning environment.

Now she’s an intern with the Illinois Innocence Project where she’s working to help overturn the convictions of people she believes were wrongly convicted.

Recently, she’s been reviewing testimony on the Pamela Jacobazzi case. Jacobazzi was convicted on the murder of an infant in her care in 1995. The conviction was based on a diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome, which scientists now question.

“I actually ended up going on a prison visit and getting to meet her,” said Tuma. “It really invests you in the case. It makes it real.”

In addition to working with the Innocence Project, Tuma is the head delegate of the UIS Model Illinois Government Organization. Each year the group spends a weekend at the state capitol debating policy with students from around the state.

She was nominated for the position as a sophomore, which meant she often found herself leading graduate students with more experience.

“It really taught me how to be a leader and gain people’s respect even if they’re older than me,” she said.

Tuma is also vice president of the UIS College Democrats and an intramural sports supervisor at TRAC.

“The best part about UIS is you can get involved in so many things because it is a small place that you can meet more people and learn more about these organizations and then get involved,” said Tuma.

As she prepares to apply to law school, she feels confident in the education she’s received at UIS.

“I feel I’ll be very prepared leaving UIS. I’m looking forward to law school,” she said.

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