Our students talk about #excellencewithoutbarriers

Brooke Longhurst, JD 2018, Newton Rowell Bursary Recipient

Brooke LonghurstHometown: Epsom, Ontario

Undergraduate degree: Honours Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from University of Guelph

Graduate degree: Master of Art in International Relations & Politics, Applied Statistics from University of Cambridge

I wanted to understand the world in a new way. Growing up in a rural farming community, I was intrigued by what life offered beyond what was in front of me. Law seemed like a good angle to understand how the world is shaped, from government to business to community services.

I loved the prospect of receiving a top-notch education in a metropolitan city. Being so centrally located, U of T law school offered an opportunity to meet with alumni and other working lawyers while in law school. This was integral to finding a career path that was a good fit for me, and feeling comfortable in the legal profession.

Law school has offered me opportunities beyond what I could have imagined. The combination of top academic opportunities, getting to know my classmates and connecting with our alumni network has allowed me to learn and achieve more than I ever would have thought possible on my first day of law school.

I hope to be in an area of work where I am always challenged to expand my professional goals. I love working in team-based environments and am driven by innovation. I am naturally very curious, and am happy to be in an environment where I feel I will never stop learning. I have been lucky to find all of this at Blakes, along with the ability to balance a corporate practice with volunteer initiatives. I hope to continue on this path for years to come.

Coming from a rural farm town, my bursary relieved some of the financial stress that law school brings, and enabled me to shift my focus to my academics and on building the First Generation Network. The First Generation Network helps to reduce social, financial and professional barriers faced by law student who are the first in their family to attend post-secondary education. In less than three years, we’ve opened up chapters across Canada, partnered with many major law firms and corporations, created a mentorship program and brought in an incredible series of speakers (including Justice Andromache Karakatsanis). My bursary was proof of how much the support of alumni and established lawyers impacts students from diverse backgrounds in law. It helped me to pave the way for others who may not see their experiences represented in law.

Would I be able to attend law school without it? Put simply: absolutely not.

To my donor, first and foremost, thank you. Second, I would encourage my donor to look at the programs and activities put on by the First Generation Network and know that this wouldn’t be possible without you. I created the First Generation Network in my first year of law school to create a community for those who were the first in their family to attend post-secondary education. Going through law school and seeing how much of a difference alumni support made inspired me to do all that I could to assist those who may come to law school after me.

I firmly believe that our profession can best serve the public when it reflects the public. The Ministry of Labour will benefit from having lawyers who know the challenges of working as truck drivers or factory workers. The Ministry of the Attorney General will benefit from having lawyers who know the criminal justice system up close or personally. There is overwhelming research that corporations, boards and law firms benefit from diversity of thought and experience. Financial aid allows individuals who haven’t been previously represented in law to attend law school. This, in turn, benefits us all.

It truly takes a village for someone to be successful in law school. For students who were the first in their family to attend post-secondary education, or who come from low-income backgrounds, that village is often made up of the school’s alumni network, administration and other students. By donating to the financial aid campaign, you’re helping to ensure that students from all backgrounds are able to attend law school and that our primary focus can be on learning, rather than on the financial obstacles we are facing.

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