Liberal Arts Bridge Sponsors Careers in Law and Justice Alumni Panel

Liberal Arts Bridge speaker shakes the hand of an attendee.On October 24, the Liberal Arts Bridge (LAB) program—which launched this fall to support School of Liberal Arts (SOLA) graduates as they transition into a meaningful life and career—sponsored a panel on Careers in Law and Justice. The panel, moderated by Philip Goodwin ’16 (Politics), an admissions counselor at SMC, featured four accomplished SOLA alumni with a wide variety of experience in law and justice.

Michael Brisbin ’84 (Government and Religious Studies) is a partner at the law firm of Wilson Elser, where he has worked since 2005, handling health and disability work. Lindsey Rosellini ’07 (Communication) works at Bay Area Legal Aid in the Health Consumer Center and is the programming co-chair for BALIF, a Bay Area LGBT Bar association. Tori Salazar ’87 (Government) is the first female district attorney in San Joaquin County. June Williams ’06 (Integral) was the Northern California district director for U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris and recently transitioned to working for Google’s ethics team.

Moderator Goodwin asked, “What would you say to somebody who says that a liberal arts education isn’t necessarily relevant in today’s society?”

“I would say that they’re mistaken,” Brisbin responded. “Critical thinking involves analysis and making a determination about what the analysis shows you, and coming to a conclusion. That’s what Saint Mary’s does. That is one of the greatest benefits of a liberal arts education—it teaches you to think critically.”

In response to Goodwin’s question, Salazar brought up the Seminar program, formerly known as the Great Books program. “All those great minds in the room could come up with a beautiful collaborative solution to fix a problem, and that’s what Great Books was about—forcing you to look at yourself and your actions, and your ability to be compassionate and to help people, and to surround yourself with more brilliant minds that could come up with the best solution.”

Rosellini said, “I loved my major in Communication. It captured everything: business, women’s studies, media, theory, public speaking, politics, social justice, law.… I was so engaged with that. A liberal arts education is very relevant because the way that younger generations are navigating career paths is very fast and flexible. People are shaping their own careers and moving outside of these boxes.”

Goodwin also asked, “Is there anything you wish you had known as a student before you got to Saint Mary’s to help you become more professional, or is there anything that Saint Mary’s could have done differently?”

“Someone told me that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” Williams said. “That was the best advice I ever received. It’s about building relationships with all the people you are with in this moment in time because it’ll never happen again.”

Rosellini agreed, adding, “I wish I had thought about slowing down a bit while I was at Saint Mary’s. So, definitely stay in the present [but] try to think ahead a little bit. I was involved on campus, but I wasn’t really thinking beyond that. I should have asked, ‘What are some places around where I can bring my enthusiasm and excitement and start volunteering?’ I worked a lot of different places before I settled down. Get involved outside campus, and make those connections and relationships.” 

“Take advantage of the Bay Area,” Williams added. “A resource like Senator Kamala Harris’ office is just down the street. When people do wonderful things, we can reach out to them and just make a phone call.”

Upcoming LAB events include a LinkedIn Workshop (Tuesday, Nov. 6, 6 p.m., Hagerty Lounge); Dine With Alums (Wednesday, Nov. 14, 6 p.m., Soda Activity Center Moraga Room); and LAB/CPDS Internships Workshop, (Wednesday, Nov. 28, 1 p.m., Hagerty Lounge). See https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/school-of-liberal-arts/lab-liberal-arts-bridge-program for more info.