Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Leadership lived: Student starts Mock Trial team at UIS

During her first semester of college, Vanessa Pratt decided she wanted to start a Mock Trial team at the University of Illinois Springfield. She went to work recruiting other students and found a faculty sponsor to help guide the team.

“It’s taught me you have to be very dedicated if you want to be a leader,” said Pratt. “You have to be willing to put the work in to get benefit from it.”

The American Mock Trial Association assigns students a case each year. Students serve as either prosecutors or defense attorneys arguing the case, often before real judges or attorneys. The team competes against other universities throughout the state.

“I feel like it gives me an upper hand,” said Pratt. “While it’s not an actual trial, it gives me the public speaking and a lot of courtroom etiquette.”

Pratt, a sophomore legal studies and communication major from Quincy, Illinois, chose the University of Illinois Springfield because her father and uncle are alumni.

“I love the small community here at UIS,” she said. “I didn’t really want to go to a larger school.”

On campus, Pratt is a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program, Pre-Law Society, Model Illinois Government, the Christian Student Fellowship and works for UIS Admissions. She encourages other students to get involved.

“I think part of the college experience is getting out and getting involved and maybe you’ll be like me and start something that you love,” said Pratt. “I’ve met so many friends through Mock Trial that I feel like I’m going to have for the rest of my life.”

Following graduation, Pratt plans to attend law school and one day hopes to become a prosecuting attorney. She hopes Mock Trial will continue to grow at UIS.

“I really hope it stays long after I’m here and it’s something I can come back as an alumnus and help out with and be able to tell people that I got that started,” she said.

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