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September 5, 2019

SVSU alumna with small town roots makes the case in one of world's largest law firms

In a few short years, Samantha Jackson went from living in a rural town of 3,000 people and questioning her future to moving to a bustling city with nearly 3 million residents and working at one of the most prestigious law firms in the world.

Jackson, a native of Goodells and a first-generation college student, is no stranger to broadening her horizons. During her undergraduate experience at Saginaw Valley State University, the determined 2015 political science grad was a driven member of moot court and traveled across the country multiple times to compete in the national championships, even placing in the top 6 percent nationally.

Jackson continued to expand her worldview as a hard-working member of the university's forensics team and Model United Nations group, as well as by serving as a dedicated global resident assistant in SVSU's Pine Grove apartments. She capped off her global experience at SVSU with a leadership development trip to Asia as part of her involvement with the prestigious Roberts Fellowship.

Jackson graduated with the confidence to begin her law career and further her global journey, but she didn’t always have this tenacity. When she started at SVSU, she was unsure of her future and place in the world, but the support and mentorship she received from pre-law advisor, Lee Trepanier, professor of political science, changed everything.

"From my freshman year to my senior year at SVSU, Dr. Trepanier provided invaluable guidance," Jackson said.

"His classes were challenging and thought-provoking, his feedback was constructive and pushed me to be a better thinker and writer, and he gave me candid advice as I chose my major, debated about my post-graduate plans, and as I crafted my law school applications."

With the help of all the opportunities she had at SVSU and the empowering professors she encountered, Jackson was prepared for her next big step: law school at the University of Michigan.

She continued to thrive at one of the top 10 law schools in the country while furthering her advancement in moot court, serving as a graduate student instructor, and working as a student attorney at both a human trafficking clinic and an unemployment insurance clinic.

Jackson also ensured that she didn’t limit herself to the Ann Arbor area, as she worked as a constitutional litigation intern in Washington, D.C. and as a summer associate with Latham & Watkins in New York City.

Jackson graduated from U of M with honors in 2018 and took her biggest leap of all: moving to the Chicago offices of Latham & Watkins, the second-highest grossing law firm in the world. After interning with the firm for several months, she accepted a full-time position as an associate at Latham & Watkins, establishing herself at a firm with a global platform spanning 14 countries. Jackson currently dedicates much of her time to the firm's pro bono efforts, as well as acts as the legal liaison for the Chicago Domestic Violence Legal Clinic.

Even as she has traveled the globe and achieved incredible success, Jackson still sticks true to her roots and stays connected to the people from her alma mater who have guided her along the way.

"Dr. Trepanier helped me make the most of my time at SVSU and prepared me for the rigor of law school, and I've continued to ask for his advice as I make career decisions," Jackson said. "SVSU is lucky to have such an incredible adviser!"

No matter what opportunities come her way or where life takes her next, one thing is for certain: this small town girl is going places.