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Step by step, Albany Law School student Adrianna Mathew ’21 has found her place as an advocate.
Originally, she planned to follow in the footsteps of her family members who work in health care. Instead, she took her own uncharted path.
After finishing rigorous pre-med coursework and completing internships in the downstate Montefiore Health System, Mathew found that advocating for—rather than diagnosing and treating—patients was meant to be the next step in her journey.
“While I was working there, I realized I cared more about advocating for the patient, advocating for the family, rather than be the one who did the procedures,” she said.
This spring, she completed an internship with St. Peter’s Health Partners in its legal department. Day to day she attended ethics hearings, conducted hospital policy research, and learned from all the key players responsible for making a medical decision for a patient who—in some cases—can’t decide for themselves.
“You don’t really think about what a lawyer for a hospital does—you think about doctors and nurses and all the medical professionals,” she said. “It has been a really rewarding experience to learn that it’s not just one person making a decision. It’s a group of people coming together to make sure that the patient’s best interest is the first thing that is thought of.”
“Working in health care through a pandemic has been an unexpected chance to gain knowledge,” Mathew added. “Every day is unpredictable. Patient and provider needs change on a daily basis. I am grateful for the experience I’m getting. I am learning an incredible amount.”
Entering law school as a “wide-eyed 1L” was the key to allowing her to broaden her scope.
“I went to undergrad only wanting to be a doctor. I sort of closed myself off to opportunities that presented themselves,” she said. “When I came to law school, I kept an open mind.”
Her work with the Health Law Clinic within The Justice Center at Albany Law School—specifically cases where she and her partner helped clients navigate the Social Security system—provided a chance to see how lawyers fit into the health care sphere.
“I can’t explain it other than puzzle pieces fitting together,” she said. “That’s the image that comes to mind when I think about how much the Health Law Clinic gave me the perspective I was looking for in law school. It’s helped me in finding the direction of advocating for my clients—listening to them and devoting my time.”
Going forward, Mathew plans to keep her mind open in law school and beyond—with one common theme.
“I truly care about the patient’s best interest and I’ve always wanted to be the voice in the room that advocates for them,” she said.
Mathew was recently named senior editor of the Albany Government Law Review and is also involved with the Anthony V. Cardona '70 Moot Court Program, the Health Law Society, the Women’s Law Caucus, and the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA). This summer, she will be an intern with Visiting Nurse Services of New York through the Kenneth G. Standard Diversity Internship program offered by the New York State Bar Association.
“I came to Albany with nothing. I didn’t know anyone in the legal sphere. I’ll leave Albany Law with a wealth of network, information, and education, and I think that makes the experience very worthwhile,” she said. “I love everything about it. I love the struggle, I love the hustle.”