…and survived!  We have welcomed a new member to our Academic Success team –  Pace Law graduate Marina Theodoris.   Marina graduated in 2011 and took the July 2011 Bar Exam.  She passed (congrats!) but had a bit of, well, let’s call it an “adventure” getting there.  But she persevered, and learned some things about herself in the process.  In her own words……


The weekend before the New York Bar Exam this past July, a law student’s worse nightmare happened to me.  Somehow at the time I thought it would be a good idea to start drinking Red Bull at 11:00 am to keep myself alert as I entered that final stretch before the big day.  The Red Bull did the trick but it also made me so jittery that I inadvertently knocked over the can and watched with utter horror as my drink spilled all over my laptop and seeped into the crevices of the keyboard until my screen went black.  And yes, I was supposed to take the Bar Exam on this same laptop in less than three days!  Instantaneously, realizing what this meant, my heart plummeted to my stomach and I began to hyperventilate.  I spent that whole day making phone calls, raiding computer stores, trying everything possible to resuscitate my laptop.  However, at about 9:00 pm, my laptop was officially pronounced dead. 

 I couldn’t help but mourn and feel defeated— as if all the knowledge that I spent the last two months learning and memorizing no longer mattered because with this huge setback, I was surely doomed to fail.  But as the adrenaline rush subsided and I came to grips with reality, I remembered that long and steep road I had been trekking all those weeks of bar preparation to reach the top of that mountain and I knew I couldn’t quit now so close to the top.  I realized that if I did end up failing, it would most likely not be because I handwrote the exam but because of my own self-limiting beliefs.     I had to remind myself that the knowledge I had learned was still there, the only difference was that the medium that I would use to convey it had changed.  And so, faced with having to handwrite the exam, I re-strategized my plan of action and became more determined than ever to pass, with laptop or not.  I might have lost my hiking sticks, but I still had the essential gear I needed to reach the top of that mountain. 

Almost a year after this experience, I am happy to say that I passed the bar!  I share this story with you not to by any means terrify you any more than you probably already are, but to emphasize that beyond the tall tales and recycled horror stories you have probably heard by now about the bar exam, ultimately the real obstacle to succeeding will be your own self-limiting beliefs.   To be sure, you have your work cut out for you–having to learn and memorize volumes and volumes of exam material is enough to overwhelm any newly minted law school graduate.  In fact, every part of your being—mental, physical, and spiritual—will be pushed to the limits.   After a while every day will be the same–wake up, go to lecture, write flashcards, bubble circles, memorize the elements of murder, memorize New York distinctions, bubble circles, eat, write essay, lather, rinse, close eyes, and repeat.  However, my experience has taught me that despite the challenges of this exam, it certainly does not have supernatural powers.  Those who are successful maintain a positive outlook and a great deal of resilience.  They look at the huge mountain in front of them, struggle with feelings of stupidity, and then begin to take steps hiking that mountain.  They ask for help, they acknowledge their weaknesses, they don’t blame others, or their lack of intelligence, or bad luck, but blame their lack of motivation knowing that the daunting journey up that mountain is a small price to pay for getting to see the view from the top – and the view is well-worth the hike!