What department are you a graduate student in?
I am pursuing my Masters of Applied American Policy and Juris Doctor.
Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
Law School was an easy decision. I was a criminal justice major at the University of Central Florida and while there I was able to intern with the university’s Victim Services office. It was in that position that I learned how important advocacy and public service was to me. I was also able to see the power that the legal system had in protecting and helping victims. On a personal note, both of my parents were in the legal field. Their character and work ethic had a huge impact on me, because of them I knew that becoming a lawyer was a dream that I could attain.
The Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy was a more surprising choice. I realized while in law school that lawyers could only advocate within the arena that politics had drawn — from funding, to leadership, to torts, to sentencing guidelines. I wanted to know everything I could about how those policy decisions were made and how people were elected to make them. This led me to apply to the MAAPP program.
Did your interests change throughout your program?
Yes! My legal interests remained consistent, but the MAAPP program introduced me to so many other areas of interest. I’ve learned about effective communication, messaging, digital media, persuasion, and the use of language as a tool. Further, the MAAPP program expanded my definition of ‘advocacy’ far beyond litigation. A person may need legal help, but they may also need a park in their neighborhood or more traffic lights. I’ve learned that there are not only endless ways that a person’s life can be improved, but also endless ways to go about that improvement.
What do you want to do with your advanced degree?
Everything, I know that I want to help people and I know that there are a lot of ways to do that. I appreciate both the JD and the MAAPP degree because I feel that both have prepared me to serve my community in a variety of ways. Most immediately, I am honored and excited to be joining the Office of the State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit in Jacksonville, Florida.
Shaina Ruth is pursuing a joint MAAPP and Juris Doctor degree at FSU.