Day in the Life of a BYU Law Student: 1L Sala McCarthy-Stonex

My name is Sala McCarthy-Stonex. I'm a 1L from Hawaii and am known as the resident 19-year old “kid wonder.”

While I have a pretty solid schedule, I do what I do to get things done and make it through the day because, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said, “my mind rebels at stagnation. . . I abhor the dull routine of existence.” I try to make time to keep up with my family and see how they’re doing, stay caught up with my friends and their lives, read and learn, and take care of basic needs like eating and sleeping.

Learn more about what a typical day in law school is like for me below.

A Typical Monday through Thursday

6:45 a.m. wake up & get ready 7:30 a.m. pack a lunch  8:02 a.m. out the door  8:04 a.m. catch the bus  8:23 a.m. transfer bus at UVU  8:57 a.m. arrive at BYU, walk to Law School  9:05 a.m. sit in class and review notes  9:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Con Law w/ Prof. Sun  11 a.m. - 11:50 a.m. Intro to Advocacy w/ Prof. Bramble 12 p.m. scripture study for 15-30mins (currently studying the Book of Mormon in Japanese/Korean & Old Testament), finish Civ Pro reading & prep for class  1 p.m. Civ Pro w/ Prof. Stancil  2:30 p.m. do readings or study outline for Tuesday/Wednesday  4:30 p.m. head home by bus  5:30 p.m. back at home  6 p.m. cook/eat dinner & chill (Cooking is something that’s really fun for me... IMG_0622I come from a simple culture that is focused around food (cooking/eating), friends and family time, and talking with one another. So #foodislife 8 or 9 p.m. call mum (or Facetime)  10 p.m. read a fun book or watch a show 11:30 p.m. bedtime  Some Mondays my sister will pick me up after school and her work to go grocery shopping. I shop for food at the Asian Market in Provo or at Wal-Mart  

A Typical Friday (Sleep-in Day!)

9:30 a.m. wake up & get ready  10 a.m. out the door  10:09 a.m. catch the bus  10:20 a.m. transfer bus at UVU  11 a.m. arrive at BYU, walk to Law School  11:10 a.m. Study Group w/ friends  12 p.m. Fridays (Fridays is a weekly event where students and faculty members mingle in the Student Commons over fruit, veggies, and treats. I always try and make it to Fridays because: 1) Free food so woohoo, also probably my weekly veggie intake haha; 2) Time to mix and mingle with peers, 2Ls/3Ls, and professors 1 p.m. Civ Pro w/ Prof. Stancil  2:15 p.m. do Monday reading for Con Law  3 p.m. done for the week, call sister to see what she’s doing  3:30 p.m. head home by bus or sister picks me up (Plans vary from here until Monday)     

Q: How does your experience in law school compare with the expectations you had when you began?

Sala: In my first semester, while I was busy and at times exhausted, I still had enough flexibility to find time to spend with family, friends, and socialize with my peers. Success and happiness in law school, I’ve found by observation, is rooted in mastering a schedule that works for you and managing your time in a way that allows for flexibility. Prioritize and you’ll make it.  

Q: In terms of time, what sacrifices have you made to attend law school? What sacrifices have you not made?

Sala: I had a car last semester which allowed me to leave my house later and enabled me to leave the school when I wanted. Now that I’m catching the bus to school, it’s been an adjustment of figuring out a way to have enough time to sleep, wake up, get ready, and get to school in time for class. With social time, I surprisingly have not had to sacrifice that as much this semester because my schedule is pretty flexible with finding the time to hang out with friends from home that are working toward their undergrad degrees. I also haven’t had to sacrifice time to travel and spend time with family. I went to Ireland and England over Christmas break, viewing it as my reward for surviving my first semester of law school, and have an international externship set up for Japan this summer and another in Hawaii or D.C.


Q: Though law school can often be difficult, what are the rewarding aspects? What motivates you to put in the hard work?

Sala: The reward is really the light at the end of the tunnel. Completing what you’ve set out to do and not giving up is important. The biggest motivators in my life are my family, languages, travel, and the Lord. My dad passed away when I was two and a half years old. After he died, my mum moved us to a Navajo Rez in Tuba City, Arizona, where we lived for three years. We then moved to Laie, HI, where we've lived since. My mum is my strongest supporter and inspiration. She has raised me to trust in and thank the Lord, to work hard, to love learning, to love serving others, and she has inspired me to pursue my education. Over the course of her life, my mum earned both her bachelors and masters degrees, teaching certificate in both the U.S. and N.Z., and has worked as a primary school teacher, principal, middle school counselor, and university mental health counselor. Essentially, it is because she has worked so hard, for so long, that I am working as hard as I can and as fast as I can to become independent and to ease her burdens.   Another large motivator for me is a little less pure. My desire to pursue my education has always been supported and nurtured by my mother, but she also instilled within me a little bit of a rebellious spirit. If you’ve watched School of Rock with Jack Black, I have a bad case of “Stickittothemaneosis.” You know the feeling you get when you’re in a situation and the odds are stacked against you, and you feel like you have to prove a point? Yeah, that’s me. “Every. Day.” (Nacho Libre). You see, I have three homes: Aotearoa, Navajo Nation, and Hawai’i. In the eyes of the modern world, I was raised with comments like “Is that like Australia?” “What’s that? Oh, so you're Indian!” and “Don’t you guys live in grass huts and wear hula skirts?” Flying in the face of various stereotypical expectations, I've developed a kinship with the underdog. As a young woman who was adopted into a Navajo tribe and is of Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan, Tongan, German, Irish, and English descent, I find myself to be the underdog personified. In my pursuit of a higher education, I am a representative of my ancestors and people. I carry them with me. Each boundary I overcome, each stereotype I break, and each limit I exceed, I make a statement to the world. I’m showing anyone and everyone that we young Polynesians and Native Americans are just as smart as everyone else; we are more than our demographic and socio-economic status; we are more than our gender and the colour of our skin; we are more than what the world has defined us as; and we are capable of more than what anyone expects of us. Impassioned? A bit. Overzealous? Possibly. Totally me? Yep, absolutely.  

Q: What do you wish you had known when you were a prospective student about what law school would be like?

Sala: You will survive your first semester of law school. You will survive your second semester of law school. You will survive law school. Baby steps, friends.    

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