Our students talk about #excellencewithoutbarriers

Catherine Seeley, 2L, financial aid recipient

Catherine SeeleyHometown: Assiniboia, Saskatchewan

Undergraduate degree: Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance

Undergraduate institution: Brandon University

There are many valuable and important professions, but when I look around at the people who are making changes of real consequence, many of them are lawyers or began their career as such. This observation piqued my interest in pursuing law, and as I gained some familiarity with the issues inherent in the criminal justice system, it became clearer to me my interests and goals are best aligned with a career in criminal law.

I applied to U of T law school because as I researched the landscape of legal education in Canada, it was apparent that the education I would receive from this institution would be of the highest quality. Coming from the prairies, I knew I wanted to experience what life was like in Eastern Canada and particularly, in Canada’s largest city and cultural center. U of T’s central location in Toronto and its strong connection to Canada’s largest legal market made it an obvious choice.

My friends and family are incredibly proud of my accomplishment in gaining admission to this institution. The reactions that I receive when I tell people that I attend U of T Law is commensurate with its incredible reputation, both within the legal community and the general public.

Having now completed my first year, U of T has lived up to and exceeded my expectations. While I think everyone has ups and downs, especially in the first year of law school, I’m so grateful that my experience has clarified and affirmed my motivation pursue law. I am continually amazed and inspired by the calibre of my student colleagues and professors. I have the incredible gift of being surrounded by and learning from some of the leading legal minds in the field, and I plan to continue making the best of it while I’m here.

I am interested in becoming a criminal defence lawyer because I care about our criminal justice system and how it interacts with its citizens. How a nation treats those who break the law speaks volumes about the moral health of that society, and any system of criminal justice is only as good as those who uphold it. I wish to play my part in ensuring that our own system provides fair and just outcomes for those within it.

Financial aid has substantially alleviated the financial burden that I must undertake to receive this degree. This means that I have been able to attend one of the best law schools in the country while pursuing a path in the law that may not pay as well. I attended law school because I want a career that is personally rewarding. I hope not to compromise that because I must take a more financially rewarding job to pay off my law school debt. Financial aid gives me a chance at being able to do that.

Put simply, the financial aid program at U of T law is the reason I’m able to attend. As a student who is carrying the financial burden of this degree on my shoulders alone, it would be impossible to justify the cost without strong support in the form of bursaries.

To my donors: You’ve given me the gift of not only being able to attend law school, but to be able to entertain the possibility of pursuing a path that I’m passionate about without worrying whether I’ll be able to make it work on a lower salary. Most importantly, you have given me peace of mind about my future, both professionally and financially. That peace of mind has allowed me to immerse myself fully in this learning experience, which is a benefit you really can’t put a number on. I extend to you my most deeply felt gratitude for your decision to help me.

The legal field is in need of a diversity of perspectives, including perspectives of those who come from a less privileged socio-economic background. This can only happen if those who work hard and gain admission to institutions such as U of T are not halted at the door by the cost of tuition. There are many factors to consider in making law school more affordable in the long term, but in the meantime, for those of us who do not have alternative financial resources, financial aid is simply the only way that a dream of attending law school can become a reality.

Students like myself who decide to attend law school despite the incredible financial burden do so because we believe we can contribute to and make a positive impact in this profession. Your contribution would make a real difference in allowing students like me to pursue a path that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to pursue. Most people who have had success in their careers are able to look back on their own path and pinpoint moments in which they were helped along by those who were in a position to do so. Becoming a donor will allow you to provide a leg up for someone else who is now in the position that you were once in.