“Everyone Has the Right to be Heard”: Political Science Major Prepares for Law Career

Mary Offutt '20

the freshman year of high school for many college-bound students means focusing on strong academic performance, selecting challenging classes, and participating in extracurricular activities, all to build a solid record of achievement for the college application process.

mary offutt ’20 was already looking ahead as well to what would be her college destination.

during her freshman year, offutt, who hails from sterling, virginia, met ashley browning, hollins’ vice president for enrollment management. “we continued to stay in touch about admission events and other information about hollins,” she recalls. what ultimately convinced her to choose hollins, she says, were “the small class sizes and ashley. additionally, when i toured campus i fell completely in love with the beauty of the campus, and i appreciated how nice everyone was at the events i attended, from faculty and staff to current students.”

considering her diligent early college preparatory work, it is not surprising that offutt also determined her academic aspirations in advance. “i came to hollins planning on majoring in political science, knowing that my goal was to go to law school,” she explains. to that end, she independently discovered internships throughout her hollins career.

“in 2018,” she notes, “i started an internship with a family law firm in leesburg, virginia. since then, i’ve worked there on all my breaks and throughout the year. this summer, i will be doing a clerkship with them.”

offutt also credits hollins’ study abroad program for having had “a huge impact on my life. i was in london for the entirety of my sophomore year and it was an amazing experience, being able to travel to a multitude of different countries to experience their culture and beauty. there are no words to truly describe it other than ‘life-changing.’”

when she began the application process for law school, offutt says assistant professor of political science courtney chenette was “a huge help. her classes made me even more passionate about the law. i learned from her that cases are about people, and i believe that everyone has the right to be heard.”

this fall, offutt will begin pursuing her juris doctor (j.d.) degree at the in south carolina. in many ways, her reasons for choosing the school for her legal education are similar to why she picked hollins. “they have small class sizes, an individualized course experience, and an amazing externship program,” she says. “plus, the beautiful city of charleston was a large draw.”

after law school, offutt  intends to take the virginia state bar examination and join a family law firm in northern virginia as an associate.