COVID-19: Community Updates and Resources
Sarah Dixon-Morgan ‘22 picked Albany Law School sight unseen. The impact of that decision has been great for her and, arguably, even better for Albany Law School.
Originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, she wanted to attend a law school that focused on government law, public service, and also had an atmosphere with a southern charm she was accustomed to.
“It seemed like everyone here cared. It was really easy to find information—about the faculty, students, program—now that I’m here I’m even happier that I chose Albany Law,” she said. “I feel so lucky to have chosen Albany Law and be a part of a community where I am cared about.”
But the stress of moving to a new place, starting at a new school, and being the first person in her family to pursue a law degree impacted Dixon-Morgan hard. It was a big adjustment. Luckily, Albany Law School had a resource—The Wellness Initiative.
“The Wellness Initiative was there for me my 1L year. It was very new, but I remember a finals exam review session with 2Ls, 3Ls, and Professor [Pam] Armstrong. That helped me feel so comfortable at the law school,” she said. “Having resources at Orientation about substance abuse, counseling services, I really took that to heart.”
This past academic year, she has served as a Colby Fellow—a fellowship supported by gifts from Andrea Colby ’80 and Jim Kelly ’86—and has become more involved in the Wellness Initiative.
“It’s really amazing to be more involved with the Initiative and connect with people practicing the law who are impacted with mental health issues,” she said.
Dixon-Morgan’s compassion for mental health was crucial when COVID-19 hit the law school. The Wellness Initiative set up virtual workout classes, study sessions, craft nights, discussions with mental health professionals, and more to help students, faculty, and staff impacted by the pandemic.
“It’s even more important now that we focus on mental health. You need to be O.K. before you give your best to law school. Taking finals and dealing with a pandemic, it is really hard, but law school doesn’t stop just because there is a pandemic,” she said.
“It helps a lot of people see that it’s important to talk about mental health in our field. It’s new in New York and there aren’t a lot of other law schools in the country that are doing it yet,” she added. “It’s an honor to have this fellowship. Through personal experience and figuring out what works for me in law school, I hope that it can help 1Ls and 2Ls adjust to law school. That would mean the world to me.”
Dixon-Morgan is also impacting people beyond campus through her work in The Justice Center’s Immigration Law Clinic.
“What I’m learning in the clinic is fundamental to the lawyer and the person I am going to be. I’m learning so much about understanding clients and telling their stories and how that fits into the law,” she said. “The clinic experience is going to be one of the best that I’ll have. It’s so practical. I’m doing what I’m going to do as a lawyer. But you also have the time to reflect on what you’re learning.”
The pursuit of making an impact traces back before her time on New Scotland Ave. Dixon-Morgan’s interest in the law was actually sparked during an undergraduate semester abroad in the original Scotland. She was taking political theory courses as Brexit was unfolding. With interests in history, political theory, and education—traits she learned the importance of through her high school history teacher—she also aspires to take on another impactful career beyond the law.
“It was really fundamental to see courses taught in the context of the real world and teaching in a way that wasn’t boring. He engaged even the most disinterested students,” she said of her teacher. “I want to build a career in the place that I know and the place that I can make a difference. I know that someday, I want to be back in the South and teach.”
And she will make an impact, for sure.