Alumni in Academia: McGeorge's experiential curriculum inspired alumna to pursue law, teaching
Antonia Miceli, a 2006 McGeorge School of Law alumna, said she initially planned to attend law school to pass time while working on a public health degree. Eventually, Miceli fell in love with the world of law after taking many law classes and experiencing the welcoming environment McGeorge provided.
"I applied to law school to fill time on the way towards getting a master’s or Ph.D. in Public Health, which was my goal. I was happily surprised to like my law school classes," Miceli said.
As a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, she developed a keen desire for the law before enrolling at McGeorge School of Law. As an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University, Miceli became fascinated with bioterrorism and “learning the responsibility that was placed on us policy-wise and how scared we were as Americans of terrorist threats.” Her plan was that she would come to a deep understanding of the legal profession and then would return to the field of public health; however, McGeorge convinced her to focus on the legal profession.
"I didn't know a lot about what was ahead for me because my parents weren't lawyers," Miceli said. "So, I got there and took the 1L core courses. I'm grateful for the courses that I took at McGeorge because it was a pretty heavily-mandated curriculum, but it made sure I was prepared for the bar exam."
She fondly remembers Professor Emeritus Raymond Coletta, whom she emphasized stood out to her the most to her during her time at McGeorge. Professor Coletta taught her both Property and Wills and Trusts, two subjects she was particularly interested in.
"I still refer to the workbook that he gave us in Property that he used to have printed and bound on campus. When I first started teaching, I used that workbook as a resource for students that struggled with the States and Future Interests," Miceli said. "Then I discovered he'd published the book, so now I send students to the published version of it."
Her time at McGeorge was an extremely rewarding experience. Her classes and the school’s emphasis on experiential learning effectively prepared her to be an attorney.
"It wasn't just theoretical law you were learning about,” she said. “They put you in the role of an attorney – both in class and on the exams – which made a huge difference in my ability to learn the law and also apply the law. It's influenced my teaching since then."
After taking the California Bar Exam in the summer of 2006, she moved to St. Louis, Missouri. There, she landed her first job in the legal field as the clerk for a federal judge for two years. She moved on to practice law at a larger firm for a year and, later, to work for a federal district court judge.
Miceli said the opportunity to become an instructor and the Director of Academic Support and Bar Exam Success at St. Louis University School of Law was a result of her successes as a practicing attorney and in passing the bar exam in California, Missouri, and Illinois. She gradually grew into roles involving both academic support and bar exam support as she climbed the ranks. As the faculty changed, she began to focus more on getting in front of students earlier in their educational journeys.
"I wanted to be able to impact their learning and their career trajectory rather than just jumping in at the end of their law school experience," Miceli said.
Taking into account the influence McGeorge had on Miceli from an academic perspective, she wished to provide the same influence on the students who came into her path. It was vital for her to establish a relationship between professors and students.
"I benefited from a very bar-focused curriculum, but also a set of faculty members who were much more problem-based in their approach to teaching. That ability to have the context to attach my learning was key for me, and so it helped me as I became a professor," Miceli shared. "I'm thinking of the different learning styles that my students are coming in with and making sure that I'm adapting information for all of my different types of learners, so that everyone can access that information."
Now, she teaches numerous courses, offers workshops and programs, is involved in committee work, and has a number of awards, publications, and presentations under her name. Miceli is proud to say that she made the ultimate move from public health to the law field, even though, when she started at McGeorge, she had no idea where her legal education would take care and how bright her future would be.
"I never thought that I'd be teaching law school. The most critical thing that I would say is you can't plan for these things," Miceli said. "All you can do is do what you love and throw yourself into your career. Learn from everything you're doing, and when the time is right, you have something to add to that position. Opportunities are always there. Just do what you're doing, learn and improve."
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