Class of 2017
Hometown: Wakefield, Rhode Island
Undergraduate: University of Rhode Island
Major: Natural Resource Economics & Commerce
Maria Rice graduated in May 2017 with a J.D. certificate of concentration in both Business Law and International Law. She was born in Orange County, but her parents moved to a small town in Rhode Island when she was young. Maria's high school superlative was "Most Artistic." For a while, she wanted to go to art school and be an artist, until she realized that being a "starving artist" may not be a lucrative career choice. She still draws and paints as a hobby but not to make a living.
She grew up and went to school in Rhode Island. As an undergraduate student, she was active in the URI Student Senate. She also interned with Rep. Eileen Naughton at the Rhode Island General Assembly. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2008.
After she graduated college and while she was figuring out what to do with her life, she spent a few years working at Disneyland as a ride operator at the Matterhorn and Space Mountain. "It was definitely one of the coolest jobs I've ever had and it really helped me break out of my shell. I had to interact with thousands of people every day. I really think that if I hadn't worked there that I wouldn't be in law school right now."
Maria's dad, a college professor, instilled in her from a young age the importance of education. "I'm one those people that really loves school, but it didn't occur to me to take the leap and apply for law school, because I didn't think I fit the mold of the stereotypical lawyer."
However, Maria had a revelation. It happened when she was called for jury duty, and she served as the jury foreperson on a criminal case. With that experience, she was hooked on the idea of becoming a practicing attorney. "I just had this feeling that I was meant to be doing what those lawyers were doing. After that, I enrolled in Paralegal Studies classes at Fullerton College and volunteered as a Paralegal at the Legal Aid Society of Orange County as a trial run for law school to see if I would still want to make the investment on three years of law school. I loved it; so here I am at McGeorge!"
Maria admits that the decision to law school did not come easy. "It took me a while to figure out that law school was the right path for me. After my undergraduate studies, I took some time off from school because I had so many interests, it was difficult to make a decision about the direction of my career. Eventually, I ended up in law school."
She is fascinated by national politics and the elections process. She is currently the treasurer of both the Intellectual Property Student Association (IPSA) and Legal Music Society. This year, she has decided to run as a delegate for Bernie Sanders in California's 6th Congressional District. So if Sanders wins the district, she will be able to go to the Democratic National Convention this Summer in Philadelphia. She hopes to be involved with the Anthony M. Kennedy Inn of Court, Small Business Clinic, and Moot Court Honors Board next year.
All throughout her high school and undergraduate years, Maria was very shy. Because of that, she never thought that being a lawyer was an option for her. However, law school takes Maria out of her comfort zone. "Law school is the most difficult and rewarding thing I have ever taken on. I've never worked so hard on anything in my life! It's worth it because I have a passion for it, and I know that I'm where I'm supposed to be."
"McGeorge has given me the chance to push my boundaries and challenge myself and develop my interpersonal skills so that I can be a better, more effective advocate."
As far as choosing a law school, Maria knew that McGeorge had a really good reputation, but the campus won her over. She fell in love with the campus and knew that McGeorge was where she belonged. She feels that "the professors at McGeorge are amazing and are some of the best in their field."
Sacramento was a great location for her because "it's a city with a small town feel. There's always a lot to do for when you want to get your mind off of school for a little bit: great restaurants and bars as well as museums." The city of Sacramento is also an ideal location for students who love politics. "Many people who work at the capital went to McGeorge, so it's great to take advantage of the alumni network if you want to get involved in California politics."
Ideally, Maria would love to work as in-house counsel for a multinational corporation after graduating from McGeorge. "I love to travel, so any job that takes me all over the world be great." Because she has a love for travel, Maria studied abroad through the McGeorge Summer Program on International Studies in Salzburg, Austria. "I had the amazing opportunity to learn about fundamental rights in the United States from U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. It was truly inspirational to learn from someone who is so instrumental in the shaping of American jurisprudence and who has such an evident passion for teaching."