David Swenton (JD ’17) blogs about his positive start at Wake Forest Law

Photo of students sitting outside the Worrell Professional Center

Wake Forest Law

David Swenton (JD ’17) is a rising second-year student at the Wake Forest University School of Law. Swenton authors his own blog, Orange Perspectives, and gave the law school permission to re-publish this blog post titled, “It’s Been 1L of a Year,” about the positive experience, from a first-year law student point of view, he had at Wake Forest Law.

A native of upstate New York, Swenton graduated cum laude from Syracuse University in 2014 with a B.A. in Political Science and Writing and Rhetoric. He served as a Drum Major of the Syracuse University Marching Band from 2012-2014 and was a political columnist The Daily Orange from 2012-2013. His interests and hobbies include American politics, Syracuse and Wake Forest athletics, skiing, golfin  and writing.

“It’s Been 1L of a Year”

To Section Two,
Thank you for making this school year a great one.

Nine months ago, I sat in the car as my parents and I made the 600 mile trip from Upstate New York to my new (temporary) home in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina. Law school began in just a few weeks, I was about to meet a whole new set of people, and I was going to be living in an area to which I’d had little prior exposure. The thought of having to go through this transition–this process of establishing a new life and making new friends–terrified me. What if I didn’t fit in with my new colleagues? What if I didn’t fit in with the Southerners?

This was so much different than my undergraduate experience, where I was only 75 miles from home and the drive was a mere hour-and-a-half. All of my family lived within a two-hour drive of Syracuse, and for all intents and purposes I was home there. Marching band and other activities had made it so easy and natural to make friends. I wasn’t so sure this move to North Carolina was going to turn out as well as Syracuse had. I’d made the decision to attend Wake Forest partly based on the new experiences it had to offer, so part of me said that I was just going to have to bite the bullet and give it my best shot.

Fast-forwarding to the present, I must contrast these early-semester nerves with where I am today in my law school experience. After my first year of law school, I can truly tell you that my fears and apprehensions were absolutely alleviated within the first month or so of the school year. It is amazing at how quickly one can adapt into a new environment and find that it feels more like home than you ever could have imagined.

In the nine months I have been here, I have met some of the funniest, kindest, intelligent, and all-around wonderful people here at Wake Forest. I had the great fortune of being placed into a section of some of the most laid-back, awesome people I could have ever hoped to meet–people that I have laughed with, hiked with, drank beer with, stressed over exams with. In the nine months I have been here, I have met people I know will be lifelong friends–men and women I will keep in contact with long after we are hooded, pass the bar, and enter into practice. People I can’t really picture life without. Our friendship circle has become a tight-knit support system that picks each other up when we’re down and knows how to have a proper celebration when the circumstances so warrant. And that’s exactly the group I needed to find here in law school–little did I know on that drive down here that I didn’t even need to search to find exactly what I was looking for. I reflect on this past year knowing that I both made the right choice in law schools and that I would not have been this content anywhere else.

I’ve also learned a lot–a lot–about the law these past nine months. More than I ever would have thought possible. The mind can really absorb a lot of information. And the amazing thing is that as much as I know now, I have two full years to go. But as much as I loved this year academically–I had great professors who made classes interesting–I’m looking forward to next year even more with its customized schedule (no Friday classes!) and courses that sound intensely interesting (such as Law and Medicine, Jurisprudence, and Pre-trial Practice and Procedure). A whole new year of challenges and adventures lies ahead, and I know I’m ready for it.

There’s also something to be said for adapting to Southern living. Just as with the law school community and new friendship circles, growing comfortable with life in North Carolina happened rather quickly. Winston-Salem is a great little city with quite a bit to offer in terms of recreational activities and nightlife. And besides that, I have adjusted to the more relaxed pace of Southern life, I’ve caught myself using “y’all” on way more than one occasion, and have I mentioned how awesome the climate is down here? Not only has it been well into the 70s (and sometimes 80s) for the past month-and-a-half, but the winter–oh, the winter! We saw probably eight total inches of snow spread over three separate days, and school was canceled every single weekday we had snow. After spending four years in the Great White North that is Syracuse, New York–trudging through class through a foot of snow and biting, freezing winds without delays or closings–I figure that I have more than earned this. And after a winter spending not hating the climate every time I ventured outside, I could definitely get used to it. Of course, I haven’t lost my Northeastern identity, but it has become distinctively blended these past nine months.

As much as I have been loving this North Carolina lifestyle, though, I am really looking forward to coming home and spending time with family and friends. I miss my parents. I miss my sister and her kids. I miss my friends back in the Northeast. A summer of work at my internship and relaxation at the lake lies ahead, and it could not get here soon enough. In just a few short days, I begin my 600-mile journey back home to New York, and I am so excited.

To Section Two–I’m already looking forward to being reunited with you all in August; and to friends and family back home–I cannot wait to see you all.

After a successful school year, I’m coming home.

David Swenton

David Swenton ('17)

David Swenton (’17)

View the original at his blog, https://orangeperspectives.wordpress.com/

If you are interested in visiting Wake Forest Law, contact our Admissions department to schedule a tour.

Learn more about Winston-Salem, N.C.