From Milwaukee to NYC — Future Lawyer Prepares for Career
Touro Lander College for Women Student Embraces Academic, Leadership and Internship Opportunities
Political Science major Basya Bates talks about her career choice, how her Touro experience is shaping her future and the meaningful relationships she’s forging with students and professors.
What made you choose Touro?
I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was 12 years old. I discovered Touro through the rabbi who ran the seminary I attended in Israel for my gap year. He suggested Touro’s Lander College for Women (LCW), since I was interested in law school and Dr. Luchins, the chair of the political science department, spent decades working in government and politics.
How did you know you wanted to be a lawyer?
I realized I wanted to be a lawyer after the Scott Walker recall election in Wisconsin in 2012. I had the immense privilege of growing up in a family where we discussed social issues. My father is a psychologist and my mom has a Ph.D. in sociology. Both were active in the community and they instilled in me a commitment to look at the world, see the problems and think about how they can be fixed. They modeled for me the importance of playing a role in the larger community, not just our Jewish community. Racial discrimination is something that particularly motivates me. I'm very interested in litigation, specifically, civil rights litigation.
How is Touro preparing you for your future career?
LCW has a wonderful political science program. Many of the professors here have real-world experience. For example, Professor Rozinski is a practicing lawyer who also worked in government for years. It has been extremely helpful to take classes like public administration and civil rights and civil liberties, where he discusses court cases and the way bureaucracy works in our country, and the systems necessary to get things done.
What internship opportunities have you had?
At Professor Rozinski’s suggestion, I did an internship in the New York Attorney General's office, working for the chief of the Environmental Protection Bureau. I got hands-on experience and was able to learn from scientists and lawyers and experts in the field.
As part of a grant from the Touro Department of Institutional Advancement, I had the opportunity to work on environmental justice research that focused on minority and low-income communities. It was a wonderful way to tie together the classes I've been taking. I was able to understand how to apply what I’ve learned and how reality might differ from the theories we learn.
What are the academics like at Lander College for Women?
Academically, I have grown beyond what I could have imagined. The political science program is extremely rigorous, so I’m surrounded by a wonderful group of students who are truly dedicated and motivated. I have grown so much in the way I think and read, the way I approach theories and apply them.
Do you have the opportunity to take on leadership roles?
I am the president of the Political Science Club, which is made up mostly of political science majors. I'm also the president of the Scholar Society. The Scholar Society is a club where students learn from each other, and not necessarily with the pressure of having a professor in the room. Everyone comes from a different perspective, which I love.
Can you describe your experience living in New York City?
It is certainly different from Milwaukee; for one thing it is much noisier. But the opportunities that you get from living in New York are amazing. For example, one day we had a fire drill in the dorm. We had to leave the building, so we went outside and wound up standing outside an upscale restaurant across the street. While we were standing there, a man came over and asked, "Are you all from Touro College?" When I said we were, he replied, “we have a congresswoman inside. Would any of you like to meet her?” I jumped at the chance, and I got to meet her. She offered me the opportunity to shadow her in Congress for a day. This never would have happened anywhere but New York.
What has surprised you most at LCW?
How much the professors care. I didn't expect to be embraced, encouraged, supported and celebrated. Every single student here is the most important student. Every student is valued and given both encouragement and very important, critical feedback. Without it, I wouldn’t have gotten where I am.
At Lander College for Women, we have a chance to grow as people. There are so many resources here and there are so many people who will encourage you until the day you leave. And I don’t take that for granted.