Charisse Arce

Charisse Arce

Class of 2014

B.A., Business Administration
Seattle University

What did you do before law school, and what led you to pursue a law degree?

Prior to law school I worked in several different fields in my home state of Alaska. I worked as a community associate for a mining exploration company. I also worked weekends as a producer’s assistant for a local news station. After college, I moved back to my hometown and tutored math students and coached high school cross-country and basketball. I started my own business and worked in consulting and grant-writing, serving mainly the regional borough and local school district. I also served as a vocation education coordinator, where I was in charge of fundraising for the creation of a district-wide vocational education program. I also fished commercially in the summers in Bristol Bay with my family.

I was motivated to pursue a law degree after I served as an intern for a house representative in the Alaska Legislature. This experience exposed me to public policy and the legislative process. Additionally, during my work in various fields I began to see the application law had to nearly every industry. I decided to pursue a law degree because it will provide me with the means to bring about change in a deeper and more systemic way.

What are your professional and personal goals after law school?

My goal is to be a servant to those that need it most. Ideally, I would love to work in a field that involves social justice and/or environmental law. I have learned that plans do not always work out the way we intended, so I am open to where life leads me. With law school, and hopefully the bar exam successfully behind me, I will forever aspire to be a lifelong learner in my personal and professional life.

How has Seattle University School of Law benefited you? What have you found most valuable during your law school experience?

Seattle University in general is a special institution. As a recipient of a B.A. from of Seattle University and now a third-year law student, I can honestly say I have been shaped in mind and spirit by Seattle University. The staff is more than supportive and all the faculty have impressive backgrounds and experiences they share with students in the classroom. I greatly respect the leadership of Father Sundborg and the deans and administration at the law school. They truly have the best interests of the students at heart.

The thing that has been most beneficial to me during my law school experience is the welcoming environment and the student body. I have met some pretty amazing students and I feel very fortunate to have made some great friendships. I also feel very prepared and confident to face the world and know that the law school will always be there to support me in my future endeavors through the Alumni Association.

Was there a defining moment or experience that confirmed your decision to become a lawyer or to practice a particular type of law?

I grew up in a small village in Southwest Alaska on the shores of the largest freshwater lake in the state. This 77-mile long lake dictated everything in our little village’s world because it was a source of nourishment, food, and entertainment (ice fishing, knee-boarding, canoeing). As I began traveling to other parts of the world, I began to see that fresh water does not come easy for many people and how the lack of it causes sickness, strife, and conflicts. I became very interested in how a natural resource like water, which is a fundamental human need, is at the forefront of many legal battles.

Additionally, 17 miles from my hometown, a very large copper, gold, and molybdenum deposit was discovered and has created strife and divisiveness over a generally peaceful region around the lake. Passions and opinions are high over whether this project should be developed, and although I dislike being in the middle of conflicts, I thought it would be valuable to gain the skills necessary to understand the difficult legal frameworks of this issue.

Read more about Charisse’s summer Congressional Internship.

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