Everything, if you're Megan Foertsch '18.
That's because Megan's majoring in Law Enforcement Technology - on her way to becoming a criminal attorney - and babysitting to earn money to pay off car and student loans.
Megan's been babysitting since she was 13, but her pathway to law school is a more recent development. Throughout high school, and for two years at Suffolk Community College, Megan studied American Sign Language (ASL). She had designs on merging ASL with a passion for law, and one academic adviser went so far as to recommend that she become an attorney representing the hearing impaired. Her plan went bust though when she didn't make the final cut for the ASL bachelor's program at LaGuardia Community College.
"Becoming an attorney for the deaf would allow me to be one's attorney and their interpreter instead of having to hire an outside individual to interpret and communicate for them during every part of the case," Megan says.
"Although I wanted to intertwine ASL and law in some way, I knew if it didn't go as planned, I wanted to be a criminal law attorney. I'm glad with the way things turned out because I absolutely love the Criminal Justice program at Farmingdale."
On her way to FSC Megan also considered John Jay College, with its national reputation as a top criminal justice school. But all things being equal academically, Megan says, it was the much shorter commute – as well as the recommendations of her boyfriend and best friend – that tipped the scales in FSC's favor.
The question is, how did criminal law become Megan's passion? Her stepfather is an attorney, but his firm specializes in personal injury law. No, Megan has come to criminal law through pop culture; specifically television shows in which lawyering is central to each episode.
"Even though I'm aware how different TV shows are from reality, at around age 15/16 I started watching Law & Order: SVU, Drop Dead Diva, How to Get Away with Murder and others in which I admired the strong lead the attorneys held. I enjoyed watching how they would reason details of the case and try to make sense of what happened. While watching those shows, I was also really interested in real-life cases and their details. I liked watching documentaries and news coverage of controversial cases that were occurring and past controversial cases, doing research on what I could to form my own opinion.
"The first controversial case I followed, and watched the reading of the verdict, was the Casey Anthony case. That's when I definitely knew I loved the law."
But of all the kinds of law she could practice, Megan became fixed on criminal law because of the challenges it represents, and the variety of cases she would tackle.
"Criminal work never gets boring to me when I read it. I'm always intrigued with what is occurring and what details emerge. I'm always looking for more. I feel criminal work would not become boring because you are constantly examining evidence of different cases, predicting and presenting different
theories, helping an individual escape charges they are wrongly convicted for, or convicting someone with charges they are guilty of, constantly prepping for trial and more."
Now Megan has her sights set on Brooklyn Law School. It seems attainable to her now, though it wasn't long ago when her academic output would have put her at a disadvantage.
"To be honest, in high school I was not the high-achieving student I am now. I slacked many times due to the social life I enjoyed having. When I entered Suffolk, I became a different student. When I received my first grade it was an A and it was the best feeling to see that. Following the first A, I was determined to maintain that grade on whatever I got, and if I did not receive an A on something I worked hard on, I was still proud of the hard work I put into it and tried to understand what I did wrong to prevent it from occurring again.
"I enjoy receiving high grades, and to maintain that I plan what I need to do for a project or paper the day I get it and each day I will apply work to it so I'm not rushing last minute and have time to gather all the information I need. When it comes to a test and studying, I will type up my notes from class and then I will write questions on index cards or definitions and quiz myself. Typing my notes reinforces my memory and writing index cards reinforces the material even more so."
Now that she has grades to compete for a top law school slot – she is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and a Dean's List student - Megan is paying more attention to babysitting, hoping she can earn enough money to defray the cost of a law education. She has tons of experience: working long hours with kids of all ages at tutoring and daycare facilities, and watching the children of her aunt, boss and neighbors. Currently, she sits evenings and weekends, and is looking for even more work. She recently posted her profile on SitterCity.com.
"I babysit because I enjoy doing fun activities with kids, I enjoy forming a bond with the kids so they are excited for the next time we spend time together. I enjoy making the kids happy and I need the extra money for my responsibilities. Babysitting is a large responsibility, but I like doing it because I know what I'm doing and I can be trusted."
The kids had better enjoy Megan now, because law school is a full-time job. It may even turn out that she slightly alters her career path – not away from criminal law, but possibly in another direction.
"Since I knew I wanted to do criminal law, I stood behind the fact I wanted to do criminal defense work. Now, the more cases I look into and form an opinion, I'm torn between the defense and prosecution. There are pros and cons to both, so it is hard to know which I'll end up doing. I'm really excited for law school even though I hear it's dreadful. I really can't wait to start my career."