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In seventh grade, Amanda Keller ’13 was selected by the Duke University Talent Identification Program, which identifies academically gifted students at a young age and provides programming to support their development. As a result, she was able to skip eighth grade.
In 10 th grade, Keller, who grew up in Wilkes County, N.C., enrolled in Mary Baldwin College's Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, which allowed her to bypass the 11 th and 12 th grades to take college classes at the Virginia school.
Four years later, at the age of 19, Keller graduated from Elon University in North Carolina with a degree in history, and the next fall, she started her first year at Albany Law School.
Keller always planned on attending law school, and she applied to 19 law schools from Texas to New York before settling on Albany Law based on the strength of its international law program and scholarship assistance. She noted the allure of the women’s rugby team, as she played the sport during her undergraduate studies.
“My parents say that I wanted to go to law school because I like conflict and arguing,” Keller said, “but I am really interested in the impact of law on society, and my appreciation for that impact was bolstered by my history studies.”
Keller is still interested in international law and hopes to someday prosecute war crimes with the International Criminal Court or United Nations. At the most recent Kate Stoneman Day, Keller arranged to meet Judge Patricia McGowan Wald, former U.S. representative on the International Criminal Tribune for the former Yugoslavia, prior to the judge’s keynote speech.
Now in her second semester at Albany Law, Keller serves as the 1L representative to the Student Bar Association and as a member of the Amnesty International Law Society and the Student Legacy Fund. She also works with the Pro Bono Society on the Prisoner Legal Service and Reentry project, and she has a work study position with the campus bookstore.
Keller’s transition to law school in New York state has not been entirely without obstacles.
“When I first came to Albany, in January 2010 to look for apartments, I thought that I had arrived in the midst of a huge snowstorm,” Keller said. “But now, after this past winter, I realize that it was a mere dusting.”
She continued, “I also had a bit of a language barrier, initially. I had to ask people to slow down and work on dropping my Southern colloquialisms. I’ve made a lot of progress; now I nearly always say ‘you guys’ instead of ‘y’all.’”