Pre-law student Sydney Cogswell explores the inside of a courtroom and the jungles of Costa Rica.
Like any college student, Sydney Cogswell of Vestal, New York, spends plenty of time in class or the library. “I love what I do,” she says. “Going to class doesn’t even feel like work. I have the best professors and the best people around me.”
Then it’s off to court, where the senior political science and criminology major earned real-world experience as an intern for Luzerne County Judge Lesa Gelb. Cogswell had a full docket. She spent time in trial court, witnessed jury selection and assisted with paperwork for protection from abuse orders.
Cogswell also created a financial literacy slide show and pamphlet that the court shares with county residents who are facing foreclosure. It’s high-level work, but Andrew Miller, associate professor of political science, knew she’d be up to the task.
Miller team-taught Political Economy and Ecology of Coffee, a political science/biology class, that featured a trip to Costa Rica. On the trip, Cogswell and her fellow travelers visited coffee co-ops, studied microorganisms in the soil and painted a local library to serve the community.
“We’re just constantly educating each other on our different majors,” says Cogswell of the political science/biology interdisciplinary journey. “By the end of the week, we were inseparable.”
Miller is an expert travel guide and mentor. “I try to help students figure out what they want to do here and after they graduate—and what they don’t want to do, which is sometimes more valuable.”
Cogswell knows she’s headed to law school. She’s working on law school applications with Kyle Kreider, professor of political science and pre-law advisor. Through a series of one-on-one interviews, Kreider helps pre-law students craft personal statements required for applications. “These students, they have a story to tell,” says Kreider. “They have something that makes them unique.”
Cogswell knows these personal touches at Wilkes will help her court success in law school and beyond. “The small campus has helped me build interpersonal skills,” she says. “I see my professors as my friends.”