F&M Stories

Future Lawyer Expands Her Resume With Hands-on Legal Experience

Certificates are supplemental educational pathways students can pursue at F&M. Certificates are not tied to majors or minors, but are credentials students can add to their resume to demonstrate a specialized level of training and education in a particular area. 

There are several certificates available at F&M, each one an incubator of innovation exploring a new field of study that uniquely blends perspectives from multiple disciplines. Here is the story of one student’s academic path to a certificate.

Morgan Hovan 24

Morgan Hovan '24

Certificate: Legal Studies

Joint Major: Mathematics and economics

Hometown: Manalapan, N.J.

Activities on campus: 

  • Mock Trial
  • John Marshall Pre-Law Honor Society
  • Alpha Phi Sorority
  • F&M tour guide

What inspired you to pursue this particular certificate at F&M? 

As soon as I heard of the existence of the Legal Studies Certificate, I knew I wanted to add it into my studies. I was in a law and public service magnet program in high school and am on the pre-law track at F&M, so I knew it would be the perfect addition to my schedule. I met with Professor of Legal Studies Jeffrey Nesteruk, who is in charge of the Legal Studies Certificate, to plan out my schedule for the upcoming years and immediately started taking classes toward the certificate. I later found out I was the first student to ever declare the certificate, so that was an exciting moment. Even if someone is not interested in the certificate program, I still highly recommend everyone take Law, Ethics, and Society, taught by Professor Nesteruk.

How does this certificate complement your major?

I love that it allows me to take classes that are completely outside the scope of my major. The Legal Studies Certificate involves classes within many majors such as business, organizations and society; government; American studies; philosophy; and English. One of the classes I am most excited about taking, Law and Economics, overlaps with my mathematics and economics joint major. It will be a perfect opportunity to apply what I have been learning in my economics classes to the law.

How has this certificate helped you along your chosen career path?

The certificate has an experiential branch to it. You must either participate in Mock Trial or complete a legal internship. I decided to pursue both to immerse myself in the certificate as much as possible. This past semester, I was captain of one of our Mock Trial teams and fell in love with the program and everyone who participates in Mock Trial. Mike Vitlip, director of legal & STEM professions advising and the Mock Trial adviser, has always been a fantastic resource and very knowledgeable about everything you may need to know about applying for law school. For my legal internship, I was awarded the honor of being a Tourish Fellow for F&M and will be interning in Harrisburg, Pa., for the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General in the Civil Investigator Unit. I will be assisting with trial work and much more. I am excited for this one-of-a-kind opportunity with true hands-on experience. I am truly thankful for F&M being able to provide this opportunity. On June 10, I took the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). I noticed many patterns showing up on that exam that I actually learned in one of my legal studies classes, Philosophy 130: Good Reasons.

Do you have any particular goals in pursuing law? Is there an area you're most hoping to end up in?

I’m really leaving it up to law school to figure out what path I want to go down. I’m currently working with attorneys who defend government workers, such as Pennsylvania state troopers, nurses, correctional officers, and Department of Transportation employees. It’s inspiring to see the work they do. There are so many different kinds of law that they practice. It’s hard to truly narrow down what I’d like to do before I’ve had specific schooling in any of them.

“I love that this certificate allows me to take classes that are completely outside the scope of my major.”

"The Legal Studies Certificate involves classes within many majors such as business, organizations and society; government; American studies; philosophy; and English."

— Morgan Hovan '24


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