Sara applied for a professional development grant through National CASA, which allows her to participate in the Children’s Law and Policy Executive Program at Loyola University in Chicago, IL.
Sara was selected out of approximately 40 applicants to participate in this program, alongside 11 other CASA employees across the country. Over two semesters, three online classes, and a total of eight credits, she will earn a certificate in Children’s Law and Policy. Sara has completed two of her classes, receiving As in LAW 665: Introduction to the Study of Law & the Legal System and LAW 670: Child Welfare Law & Policy. She will begin her final course in Leadership Development this fall semester.
Although Sara admits that the first semester was challenging, she did very much enjoy it. “The most challenging part of the program being adapting to the online format and learning to use all of the virtual tools needed to complete assignments,” said Sara. With all her previous schooling being set in person, this took some time to get used to the new format. Each week comprised various writing assignments, readings, discussion boards, videos, and recorded lectures. Throughout the semester, both courses had live Zoom classes giving opportunities for the students to present assignments to their fellow classmates.
Sara got to experiment with different forms of legal writing and research as well as sharpen her oral advocacy skills through speech assignments and presentations. Sara mentions one of her favorite assignments, “My classmates and I were given fictional roles and asked to create a mock family mediation based on a documentary we had watched.”
As Sara thinks back on her coursework, she recalls how helpful it was to connect with other people doing similar work with CASA across the country. She states, “Even better than the coursework is the connections I’ve made with the other CASA folks in my cohort.” Even though each program functions differently daily, they were able to share experiences, perspectives, and resources, “we’re united by our common mission,” mentioned Sara, who is hoping to maintain her connections, even after she completes the program.