Monica L. Keo

Monica L. KeoClass of 2021

BS in Sport and Exercise Science (minor in Theology and Religious Studies)
Seattle University

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

Prior to law school, I was pursuing a career in physical therapy and sport medicine. I would say that there were three key influences that led me to pursue a law degree: a desire to be a well-rounded learner, a quest for professional growth, and a drive to help others.

Immediately following my undergraduate studies, I continued my education at Seattle University in the Master of Sport Administration and Leadership program, now known as the Master of Sport Business Leadership program. I chose this program because I wanted to build a business background as a foundation for my future practice. During my graduate studies, I took business law and sport law courses, where I found that I enjoyed wrestling with the law in an attempt to determine what was right and wrong in the gray areas. Taking those courses opened my eyes to a new perspective and I wanted more time to develop this perspective to use in my every day and professional life. I am a strong believer in having a well-rounded education, and after studying business and management, I knew that furthering my studies at the law school should be my next step.

During my graduate studies and during my 1L year, I started my career as a compliance specialist for affordable housing at a property management company. My career has helped to inform my decision making and nudge me in the direction of attending law school. My job requires heavy analytic skills, logic, and problem solving, which are strong attributes to doing well in law school. As I progressed in my career, I knew that I wanted to grow further professionally and to find a way to better utilize my skills to helping others.

I chose to pursue a career in law because I believe that through a legal education, I will better understand the challenges facing my community and how to help those around me. The duties and responsibilities of being a lawyer incorporate my passions and values. Throughout my life I have been drawn to decision making that is based in fairness and the preservation of rights. I am a first-generation Cambodian American; my parents were refugees who escaped the Khmer Rouge regime and fled to America to seek better opportunities. The opportunity to become a lawyer and break away from the stigma and the cycle of poverty for immigrant families has compelled me to seek greater opportunities to show students that come after me what is possible.

Why did you choose Seattle U?

I chose Seattle U because I know firsthand that the professors are invested in having you succeed, whether it be in your academic, professional, or personal life. I have made many lifelong relationships with my professors and am able to ask their opinions and advice even though I have graduated years ago. I value these relationships, and I appreciate the opportunities that have stemmed from them. Seattle U's smaller class sizes has created the ability to foster these close relationships with professors.

Further, Seattle U's mission aligns with my personal mission to be a strong advocate for others. Seattle U encourages its students to explore outside of their comfort zones to find the advocate within. Over the course of my life, I have had to overcome many adversities and obstacles, and if not for strong role models and advocates in my life, I would not be where I am today. While at Seattle U, I have found a way to express my unique voice and in choosing Seattle U School of Law, I knew that I would be encouraged to find a platform to better express my voice and advocate for others and ideas that I am passionate about.

What have you found most valuable during your law school education?

During my law school education, I have found that attending networking events and reaching out to other attorneys to be the most valuable aspect as a law student. The ability to connect with practicing attorneys is invaluable as they understand what it's like to be a law student and are able to offer advice to help navigate law school and life after law school. Law school trains us in theory and how to think about the law, but there is so much more to lawyering that we can't learn in the classroom. Learning the nuances of working in a firm or in-house from current practicing attorneys is priceless knowledge that law students can take moving forward. This is why I have found networking to be the most valuable aspect of being a law student.

What do you do outside of law school? What do you love about Seattle?

Outside of law school, I enjoy being outdoors. I enjoy golfing as it is a great outlet for the stressors of law school and life. I also enjoy hiking and kayaking, and Seattle is the perfect place for these activities. There are various hiking spots around the Seattle metropolitan area and you're never too far from a good campsite.

What advice would you offer a prospective law student?

You don't have to know exactly what you want out of law school, but once you become a law student, embrace the culture and take in everything the school has to offer. Also, don't shy away from making meaningful relationships with your professors!

Don't be afraid of being different. You will encounter the students who wanted to go to law school their whole lives and have prepared for this journey. If that is not you, that does not mean that you should shy away from pursuing a legal career. Initially, I wanted to pursue a different career and started a career in a completely different field, but I knew that I had another calling, so I look a leap of faith to pivot and pursue a legal career because I knew that I could offer a fresh perspective to the field.

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