Student Spotlight

New Student Group Focuses on Nontraditional Experience

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According to the leaders of a brand-new student organization, about 1 of every 5 Albany Law School students could be considered “non-traditional.”

They might be changing careers, have taken some time off to work after undergraduate studies, or even already started a family. Now, the Non-Traditional Law Students Association (NLSA) offers a support system for students whose path might just be a little different.

“When I came back, I came back with the same mindset of  being a student, but my [prior] experience obviously looks very, very different, I've been out of school for a very significant period of time. So, readjusting to what that looked like and having people who can say ‘These are the things that you're going to experience.’ was a lifeline I didn’t realize I needed,” Caitlin Mattos ’25, Vice President of NSLA.

Mattos has a background in education and owned a New York City-based tutoring company for 15 years.

The group is creating a space for non-traditional students to connect with one another and hosting specialized networking opportunities for members.

“The ultimate goal for many of us is to learn to get the education and to get back out in the real world and apply that knowledge. Any connection we can make with alumni now, it not only benefits them, but greatly benefits us,” said Diana Waligora ’25, the group’s treasurer. “All of our events, we try to make them intentional and thoughtful because we know people are short on time.”

Waligora came to law school looking for a way to find fulfillment in her long-term consulting career.

“I was a few years out from partner at my consulting firm. I decided that I wanted something more. I realized that it wasn't going to really satisfy me to not further my skillset. I had exposure to legal concepts, specifically in labor and employment, and that really piqued my interest in the law. I wanted to make sure that I had the degree and, and expanded my educational opportunities,” she said.

Mattos hopes to use her education background and law degree to work in education policy. Albany Law, for many reasons, has been the right choice. Proximity to where the laws are being made is one of those reasons.

“I have been so pleasantly surprised by some of my younger colleagues who really have said that they admire what we're doing and they ask about our experience, which is just very perceptive of them, I think, to pick up on that. And then also all of our professors as well,” she said. “Overall, it's more of a journey together, through collaboration and the desire for collective success.”

Anyone interested in joining the NLSA can email the group at NLSA@albanylaw.edu and follow them on Instagram.

Hear NLSA President Kristina Wieneke ’23 on the Albany Law School podcast: