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Alum learned real-world skills in TCC’s Paralegal Studies program

Stephanie Hunter didn’t want to go away to college after she graduated from Princess Anne High School and was reluctant to jump into law school path despite her love of the profession.

She found her niche at Tidewater Community College, where she graduated with an Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies.

“I love what I do,” said Hunter, a paralegal in downtown Norfolk at Crenshaw, Ware & Martin, a law firm specializing in shipping and maritime law.

Hunter enjoyed the structure of the paralegal program, which allows students to explore options that range from criminal law to litigation to real estate law.

“TCC really built up my knowledge base of various legal aspects and allowed me to try different things,” she said. “I had to take a family law course. I took bankruptcy and knew right away I didn’t want to do either.”

Litigation? She fell in love.

Program head Cynthia Pedigo, TCC’s Professor of the Year in 2008, teaches a legal research class that helped Hunter make a career choice.

“I use skills from that class daily,” Hunter said. “A huge amount of my work involves legal research.”

Hunter worked at Huff Poole & Mahoney while at TCC, graduating in 2000. She continued at Old Dominion University, where she earned her bachelor’s in political science and criminal justice. She earned her master’s in administration of justice and security from University of Phoenix, the same year she started work as a paralegal at Williams Mullen.

She credits her foundation at TCC with giving her the real-world skills she needs to succeed, and as a member of the college’s paralegal studies advisory board, she is hopeful a paralegal will teach a class in the future. “The classes there really teach you how to be a paralegal,” she said.

After nine years at Williams Mullen, she moved to her current position, where she largely focuses on litigation and maritime law.

“Litigation is exciting because there’s a lot of involvement in the courtroom for paralegals,” she said. “It’s not just sitting in an office all day. You get out and meet with clients regularly.”

Meeting deadlines are critical for paralegals, she said, and punctuality is a must. For Hunter, it’s the perfect field.

“You’re doing everything the attorneys do, but you’re working under them,” she said. “It’s not for everyone, but for me, it’s a great fit.”

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