Wednesday, June 13, 2018
About four years ago, I met Kristen. I did not physically meet her but communicated with her by email and phone. I was the program chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Academic Support and her proposal was selected for that year’s program. Kristen had co-authored a paper with one of her former students. Interacting with program presenters was a highlight of my experience as chair as I had some great side conversations with Kristen who provided me with great perspective. I also appreciate her periodic comments on the academic support listserv. Let’s learn about Kristen! (Goldie Pritchard)
Q: Please indicate your full name, title, and institution of employment.
Director of Academic Skills Program, Director of Experiential Education, Lecturer in Residence
Q: Please briefly describe your ASP work including length of time associated with it and what initially stimulated your interest.
I fell in love with ASP as a 2L. I was incredibly lucky to work as a teaching fellow under Kris Knaplund at UCLA - and it didn't take very long at all for me to realize that ASP was my calling. I loved teaching. I loved working closely with students eager to learn new skills. I loved watching that "aha!" moment. I took over as Director at UCLA in 2003 (after Kris left for Pepperdine), and then I moved to Berkeley Law in 2008.
Q: Which aspect(s) of ASP work do you enjoy the most? What would you consider your greatest challenge thus far and how have you overcome the challenge?
The best part of my job, easily, is teaching. Over the course of a semester, my students and I learn to trust each other, to be vulnerable and to try hard, new things. Even this many years in I am astounded by how much growth can happen over the course of a semester when teacher and student are working together as a team.
The greatest challenge for me is the program development piece - making sure we have a cohesive whole, that we're on top of communications, etc. I've overcome the challenge by hiring tremendous people. My former associate director, Suzanne Miles, and my current associate director, Diana DiGennaro are both gifted teachers and excellent strategic thinkers.
Q: What do you want your professional legacy to be?
If I've helped, in some small way, to diversify the profession - made it more accessible to first generation students, students of color, students with disabilities - then that's plenty enough for me.
Q: What motivational advice or encouragement would you offer to new and/or midcareer ASPers or law students?
To new ASPers I'd say this - if you're wondering whether this career is worth it (maybe it isn't as prestigious as you'd hoped, maybe it doesn't pay as well as you would like), the answer is absolutely YES. It's fun. It's rewarding. It's an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of real human beings - who will go out there and make a difference in the lives of even more folks. And if you're on the fence? Reach out - I'd be glad to talk to you about it!