Military veterans bring a wealth of experiences, expertise, and perspectives to law school classrooms. At the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, the Penn Law Veterans Club remains dedicated to supporting veterans throughout their law school journeys, beginning before they even step foot on campus.
Upon graduating with his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, Ryan Baldwin L’22, WG’22 joined the U.S. Navy, where he served for eight years as a military officer with the Submarine Force. When he began looking at opportunities outside of the military, his interest in technology startups initially drew him to the Wharton School’s MBA program. It was only when he learned about the Francis J. & William Polk Carey JD/MBA Program that he considered the benefits of also garnering a keen legal understanding of the highly-regulated business sector he was aiming to enter.
“When I was looking at the dual degree, I was thinking about how businesses are changing and how the government is becoming progressively larger,” Baldwin said. “It seemed like it would be a really good advantage to understand that more fully.”
As Baldwin thought about applying to the dual degree program, he reached out to the then-student leader of the Penn Law Veterans Club, and the two connected. Ultimately, the Club’s support throughout the application and admissions processes helped Baldwin make the confident choice to attend Law School in pursuit of his joint JD/MBA degree.
“I would encourage all prospective students who are thinking about applying to Law School who are veterans to contact the Penn Vets group, because they’ll absolutely help you,” said Baldwin, who is the current student leader of the Penn Law Veterans Club. “It was super helpful to me, and we like to pay that forward.”
In addition to assisting prospective students who are veterans, the Penn Law Veterans Club also coordinates several programs and events.
Every year, the Penn Law Veterans Club arranges a series of events during the week of Veteran’s Day with the goals of engaging with current and prospective students who are veterans as well as encouraging members of the Law School community who are not veterans to learn from the experiences of veterans on their campus.
As more veterans attend and graduate from the Law School, the growing community constitutes an invaluable resource for future veterans who choose to study law at Penn. Beginning this year, the Penn Law Veterans Club is partnering with the new Penn Law Veterans Alumni Association to coordinate programs geared toward celebrating and supporting veterans throughout their academic and professional careers. As a student leader, Baldwin noted that he is particularly excited to assist in building a sustainable network that helps veterans at different stages of their careers to connect with one another and establish meaningful mentoring relationships.
In discussing the reasons why veterans should consider attending law school at Penn, Baldwin reflected on the University’s community as a whole. He cited an upcoming black tie veterans charitable gala hosted by the Wharton Veterans Club. Though the event is hosted by Wharton, the planning commission worked with Veterans Clubs across the University to generate interest among members. This, Baldwin underscored, is only one example of the many ways in which the University continues to live up to its ideals of cross-disciplinary collaboration and collegiality.
“Penn’s community is actually really tight. It’s an awesome community to be a part of. At other institutions that are a little bit more spread out and a little bit less integrated, you don’t have as much access and ability to work with other people,” Baldwin said. “Our community is genuinely helpful for everyone involved. I don’t know if that exists everywhere else.”