Maria Profeta '22

Daring to Dream: First Generation Student Gives Back

A first-generation American, and the first in her family to go to college and law school, Maria Profeta always had the goal to use her education to better her family and her community. Once she decided that law school was the means to that end goal and public interest work would be her focus, she knew that Haub Law was the place for her. Now a 3L, with her journey at Haub Law nearly complete, Maria shares with us her experience as a law student during the pandemic, the mentors she gained, the experiences she values, and what’s next for her.

What are your post-graduation career goals?

I have accepted a position as an Assistant District Attorney with the Manhattan DA’s office to begin post-graduation (after taking the bar of course!).

What brought you to law school?

I graduated from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University with a BA in International Affairs concentrating in Security Policy. My goal has always been to use my education to better my family and community. I have always been interested in public service and using my degree to help a greater number of people. At times, I thought being a lawyer was a far-fetched dream, but I knew if I had the opportunity to enter into this field I would stop at nothing to make that dream a reality. Haub Law’s glowing public interest credentials, coupled with its strong roots in the local community, made coming to school here a no brainer.

What opportunities have you participated in as a student at Haub Law?

I have completed two internships with the US DOJ’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), as well as interned for the NYS Department of Education, and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of NY (SDNY). These internships have all been valuable experiences in different ways. I have also had the opportunity to dip my toe into all Haub Law has to offer by participating in the advocacy program, serving as a Vice Chair of NELMCC as well as Chair of the Honor Board, and helping students as Articles Group Editor of Pace International Law Review and as a Dean’s Scholar. Being a Dean’s Scholar for Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, Torts, and Contracts was a very impactful experience for me. There is nothing I enjoyed more than meeting the incoming 1Ls each year and helping them navigate their law school journey. These experiences easily translated into my penchant to help others. I would be remiss to forget to mention one of the best rewards of attending Haub Law and being a Dean’s Scholar has been the lasting impact on fellow students I had the pleasure to help along the way, as well as strong friendship bonds that grew from serving the student body as a Dean’s Scholar. Many of my Dean’s Scholar “students” are now Dean’s Scholars themselves and some of my closest friends.

How has the pandemic changed your experience at Pace?

COVID struck during the second semester of my first year, so completing a large portion of my law school career virtually has created some challenges, ones that I know I share in common with the rest of my fellow students. However, I’m grateful to Haub Law for providing a tight-knit community where I could reach out to my peers and professors for help during the beginning stages of the pandemic and beyond. If anything, it made my roots at Haub Law, with my professors, and with my friends even stronger.

Which professors have made an impact on you during your time as a student?

I’ve been fortunate enough to build long-lasting relationships with professors and staff members who have become mentors. This long list of incredible people includes Dean Angie D’Agostino, Dean Jill Gross, and Professors Bennett Gershman and Perry Carbone. I owe a big thank you to Professor and Dean Emerita Michelle Simon, who really took me under her wing for the past three years as her TA, Dean’s Scholar, and research assistant– three experiences that have undoubtedly shaped my law school career and future as a lawyer.  I am grateful to have them all as role models and attribute much of my current and future success to their mentorship.

What are some of your hobbies outside of law school?

I love to garden and cook– especially for those I love. I’m a self-proclaimed tea aficionado. I love music and I play the piano and violin. Both hobbies I hope to get back into after studying for the bar! I also love to travel and spent time before the pandemic solo traveling through Europe, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates. I’m really looking forward to more adventures in the coming years!  I also speak Italian and have a rescue cat named Mildred.

What is your advice for future law students?

Write down your goals, keep them somewhere you can see them every day, and always keep those goals in mind when things get difficult. Also, being a law student is one part of your identity - don’t forget about your family, friends, and other aspects about yourself that make You, You. Lastly, never forget about where you come from and those who helped you get to where you are today.