University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School students arrive with a diverse array of experiences, strengthening a richly intellectual and collaborative community. Andrew Timmick, a 2L who earned a bachelor’s degree in French and Philosophy from the University of Delaware, is no exception, coming to the Law School after serving several years in the U.S. Army.
Choosing to serve
As an undergraduate, Timmick didn’t have a specific career in mind, but he examined his options as a French major.
“There wasn’t anything, aside from teaching, that had a set path,” Timmick said, “and I also had a desire to do something for the public, to do something service-oriented. I thought if worse comes to worst, a corporate job or work in politics would still be there.”
After considering Teach For America, AmeriCorps, and the Peace Corps, Timmick found inspiration in his brother’s service in the military, and he joined the U.S. Army.
“As I looked at the other options on my shortlist,” said Timmick, “I didn’t see the same sort of robust mentorship program, nor the transition program for when the time came to move on to the next thing.”
Choosing to study at Penn Law
When Timmick was leaving the Army, he considered post-graduate work, including MBA programs, but many of those would “close the door on the public sector,” he said.
“Though I wanted to try the private sector,” Timmick said, “I wanted to leave the option open to return to the public sector. Law offered that flexibility. I could work in the private sector, but I could also return to the public sector or to the government.”
After the military’s “very regimented” lifestyle, having a plan was critical for Timmick.
“There’s a certain rigor to military life and I have become comfortable with that,” he said, “and I wanted a career that would match the demands of military service.”
When looking at law schools, the huge “pivot” facing him weighed on his mind.
“It was nice to have a group of people at the Penn Law Vets [student group] already here to ground me as I got used to this new environment,” he said. “One of the main goals of our veterans’ group is to provide support to fellow veteran students and applicants who often have taken different paths to arrive here at Penn Law. It’s crucial to have that support to make the transition to school a successful one,” he said, “and even after Penn as we begin our legal careers.”
Veteran student support and engagement at Penn Law
Timmick is now a board member of the Penn Law Vets group, which contributes greatly to the campus community, noted Stephanie Thistle, Director of Recruitment at Penn Law and staff liaison for the veterans’ student group.
“The veteran student population enriches the Penn Law community through their maturity, sense of purpose, depth of character, self-discipline, and values of honor and integrity,” said Thistle. She cited the veterans’ “history of selfless service, which they have demonstrated through courage and sacrifice,” and added that they are “able to translate values to law as advocates for the disadvantaged, providing a richness to the community that cannot be duplicated, and is greatly treasured by the Law School.”
With Penn Law Vets, Timmick furthers the group’s mission to break down stereotypes about veterans and servicemembers, ease the transition for veteran students as they start a new path post-military, and help inform prospective veteran students about studying law and life at Penn Law.
As part of a week of events held every year around Veterans Day, the group hosts a talk where attendees can ask student veterans anything about military service. Part of what Timmick aims to achieve through the group is a better understanding in the Law School community of what service in the military actually looks like.
While admitting that the Armed Forces may lag behind the private sector in some ways, in other ways, he finds them “more progressive than culture gives them credit for.”
For example, during his service, Timmick was his unit’s representative in the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program as a Victim Advocate. In this role, he assisted victims in filing claims of sexual harassment and assault and ensuring their access to support services while maintaining confidentiality. He also reported back to unit leadership on how to properly address claims and support victims throughout the process.
In light of this experience and his involvement with Penn Law Vets, Timmick said, “I think people have ingrained ideas about what the military is, so that is why it is important to have these kind of conversations [at Penn Law] about what the military is and what they are doing. The program I was involved in while in the Army, as it stands is a very good one,” he said. “And [the Army] has been able to implement it across bases in America and even all the way to Afghanistan.”
For the third year, Penn Law Vets hosted events in the Law School to coincide with Veteran’s Day on November 11, seeking to engage current students, invite the Law School community to learn more about the Armed Forces, and introduce the Law School to veterans considering law school.
Timmick expressed that these open conversations are a great way to break down some of the stereotypes that the general public may have about the military while helping inform civilians about life in the armed forces.
“We think we’ve been successful in building a reputation at the school of mentorship and support through our engagement with the community as a whole – and I think we have one of the more active veterans’ clubs among law schools.”
To find out more about Penn Law Vets and our current student veterans visit the Penn Law Vets website.