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Continuing our series of interviews with J.D. Admissions team members, meet Monique Atkinson, our newest Admissions Officer.

KJ:  Welcome, Monique!  First, tell us a bit about your background and previous experience.

MA:  I am joining the team after spending the last five years across the river at Boston University, where I earned my B.S. and Ed.M. My academic interests centered around the experiences of underrepresented identities on college campuses. I also served as an academic administrator, advising and supporting students interested in studying Romance languages.

KJ:  What inspired you to join us as an Admissions Officer here at HLS?

MA:  I recently completed my master’s degree in educational leadership, and I wanted a position that would allow me to combine everything I’ve learned. I enjoy engaging with prospective students, and providing them with the resources they need to make important decisions about their careers. Working in admissions at HLS gives me an opportunity to help form our community here on campus. It felt like a good fit, bringing together my interests in higher education.

KJ:  Have you worked in admission before?

MA:  Yes! My admissions career began as a student tour guide at my alma mater, BU. I loved it so much that I rose through the ranks in student leadership, eventually serving on the leadership team of our diversity board that focused on programming and outreach for underrepresented identities interested in BU. It was one of the strongest communities I have been a part of – I met amazing people, and got to do the inclusion work that I am passionate about.

KJ:  What do you find most interesting about admissions?

MA:  No matter what office I’ve interacted with, the people in the admissions space have a similar drive, energy, and accessibility that I find inspiring. It is a type of helping profession.

KJ:  You joined us this summer, as we were reviewing Junior Deferral Program applications. How many applications have you read since joining the team?

MA:  Just under 100 so far.

KJ:  What jumps out at you when you read a personal statement?

MA:  When it brings something to the application that I wouldn’t otherwise gather from the other pieces – the applicant’s passions, and what drives them to law school. A personal statement works best when it gives the reader a clearer idea of who you are. We work with so much paper in admissions, and the personal and optional statements are where we get a glimpse of you as a person.

KJ:  You interviewed Junior Deferral Program applicants this summer.  What is your favorite interview question?

MA:  If you could go back in time, what would you change or do differently? What do you think you would learn? I like that question because it gives me a window into an applicant’s sense of reflection. It is important to look back on our experiences and know how we can grow and learn. Being self-reflective is a critical skill for someone headed to any type of higher education.

KJ:  So let’s flip your favorite question on you! If you could go back in time, what would you change or do different?

MA:  I would take more risks. I would do more things that were unexpected. Some of the best experiences I’ve had simply happened, and I didn’t necessarily plan them. In that vein, I would lean more into spontaneity.

KJ:  Our team travels across the country during the fall.  What is one place you look forward to visiting this fall?

MA:  I am very excited to visit Georgia! I visited for one recruitment trip this summer, and it was beautiful. I met so many excited students. I enjoyed the culture in Atlanta, and I can’t wait to visit again.

KJ:  Let’s say I am a prospective student visiting campus.  What are three things I should do to get to know Harvard Law School? 

MA:  First, visit Wasserstein Hall. It will give you a good feel for the student life on campus.  Wasserstein contains the major centers and offices that students engage in every day – both social and academic. You’ll see students hanging out between classes. Second, I’m biased, but visit Austin Hall and our office, and maybe consider a campus tour and info session. Experience campus through the eyes of students and see what they point out. Finally, visit the surrounding area of campus and experience Cambridge. Walk around Harvard Square, grab a burrito at Felipe’s, or take a stroll along the Charles. Part of being a student at HLS is being a student of Boston and Cambridge, and you should get a feel for where you will live.

KJ:  You have lived in Boston for quite a while yourself! What do you like about living here?

MA:  I enjoy the cultures of all of our different neighborhoods, and the uniqueness of each Square. I’m a coffee shop fanatic. If you visit local coffee shops throughout the Boston area, you get a chance to learn more about the culture of each neighborhood.

KJ:  Any particular coffee shop recommendations?

MA:  If you are in and around Harvard Square, I’d go with Flour (founded by Joanne Chang, a Harvard alumna!). They just have the best desserts and coffee, and it’s a really nice co-working space. Get the coconut cream pie. The cookbook is pretty solid, too.

KJ:  Any fun facts to share?

MA:  I have visited Jamaica many times since I was a child. My family lives in the Jamaican countryside, where everyone knows each other. It’s a special place for me.