The last few years have been eventful for 1L Kendyl Tolley Bench, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. In 2017, she made the decision to pursue her life-long goal of attending law school. “After ten years of marriage, I was divorced in 2017,” says the mom of four. “I realized then that I had a choice to make: go back to my previous job, or pursue my goal of attending law school.” Kendyl chose the latter. She began by completing her associates degree at Utah State University, and then her bachelor’s degree in social work at the University of Utah—including a practicum placement with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office—before applying to BYU Law.
Kendyl grew up in Highland, Utah, and became interested in law during a high school AP government and politics class. “The teacher had given out a packet of United States Supreme Court cases to study. I took that packet on a date to an amusement park,” she says. “We had a long car ride there and back, and I figured I would have the time!” Since then Kendyl has been “in love with the law.” She hopes to pursue a career in criminal law. “When I was working with the district attorney’s office, I realized that advocating for a client, making sure that their rights are protected and that they are getting the help they need, would be a great way to combine social work with law.”
One of the things Kendyl appreciates most about BYU Law is the sense of community she feels here. “I came to law school thinking it would be fiercely competitive,” she says. During BYU Law’s Intro to Law week, she heard a different message. “I got the sense that each class is a professional network, made up of classmates who will become lifelong friends and colleagues.” She says this focus on relationships and networking has been a great thing. “Even in the first few months, I’ve seen people coming together, studying with and supporting each other,” she says. “We are all rooting for each other.”
Kendyl also enjoys sewing and crafting. She made and donated 300 masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a special mask for her daughter’s school featuring the school’s logo. “For now I’ve put sewing aside to focus on law school,” she says. “Sometimes my life feels over-the-top, but my mantra has become ‘it’s better this way.’ Without going through some of the trials that I have, I wouldn’t have my amazing kids or be here at BYU Law. The challenges are what make us.”