Autumn Mitchell, University of Toledo
Autumn Mitchell graduated from the University of Toledo only two and a half years after graduating from the Law and Leadership Institute in Toledo. In part, the early graduation resulted from Autumn’s focus on her goal of becoming a civil rights lawyer. That dream, which began when she was only 16 or 17 years old, led her to take courses carrying college credit while still in high school.
Autumn credits LLI with helping her develop career goals early. “Before LLI, I had no idea what I wanted to be,” she recalls. “As a first generation college student, it was difficult to imagine myself as a working professional. Joining this program gave me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet attorneys in different fields of practice, Ohio Supreme Court justices, local judges, magistrates, politicians, and many other inspiring people. The influence of my teachers and staff at LLI gave me clarity on what I would like to do as a lifelong profession.”
She singles out Professor Marilyn Preston, the University of Toledo LLI site administrator, for special praise. “She wrote letters of recommendation. She helped me think about applications,” she said. “She was awesome.”
Autumn advises students just starting with LLI to “use the opportunity and resources LLI offers to help yourselves grow.” She adds, “Take it seriously now. Start preparing now by improving your critical thinking and your writing, and take advantage of the opportunity to be in a professional environment.”
She follows her own advice about working hard. While earning a bachelor’s degree in a remarkably short time, she worked 20 hours a week during the academic years and full time during summers.
For graduating LLI students about to begin college, she suggests, “Find a way to be around like-minded people while in college. Stay on track. Take on responsibility.” Autumn found an opportunity to do that through a leadership role in the University of Toledo’s gospel choir.
She plans to work for a period but law school is the next step. Reflecting back to starting high school, Autumn said, “Becoming an attorney used to seem farfetched, but now it is realistic and attainable.”