As Peer Academic Consultants, Jacobs and Ridgeway have partnered with a professor and course of their choice to host weekly office hours and group review sessions that supplement the material presented in class.
For Ridgeway, becoming a PAC meant being able to pay it forward. Upper-level students serving as PACs helped her excel in her first-year law courses. Now she serves as a PAC for professor Charles DiSalvo’s Civil Procedure class.
“I wanted to become a PAC because I wanted to support incoming students and help them do well in their first year, a period that sets the foundation for their time in law school, and I wanted to be able to impart the strategies that did (and did not) help me in succeeding in Civil Procedure,” Ridgeway said. “My favorite thing about being a PAC is getting to help students on a one-on-one basis and watching them progress over the semester.”
Jacobs is as PAC for professor Vince Cardi’s Contracts class, his favorite class his 1L year. Contract theory made sense to him right away while it took longer for him to grasp some of his other courses, and he decided during his second semester that he wanted to help others better understand the subject.
“The material is supposed to be difficult, and I do not know anyone who naturally grasps every subject in law school,” Jacobs said. “To me, traits for academic success are to be humble enough to learn, to have a strong work ethic and to be genuinely interested in learning the law.”
Outside of his role as a PAC, Jacobs is active at WVU Law and serves the community. He is an associate editor on Issue 124 of the WestVirginia Law Review and the secretary of the Veterans Military Advocacy Group. He has also been a member of the West Virginia Army National Guard since 2018; he has led engineering projects in Romania as a commissioned engineer officer and traveled across the world during his service.
“I always wanted to serve, and the National Guard allowed me to do so while pursuing a legal education,” he said. “I do not think I would be the person I am today without this experience, and while it can be challenging to balance both the National Guard and law school, it has been rewarding.”
Jacobs is working this semester as a legal extern in the WVUGlobal Affairs with WVU Law 2014 graduate Carrie Caviani. There, he has helped draft petitions to ensure that faculty at WVU who are immigrants comply with federal law.
“My externship has shown me how complex our immigration system is in the United States,” he said. “I have developed a greater appreciation for details through this experience because a denied petition can create tremendous hardship on the person trying to maintain status in the U.S. There is no room for error.”
Ridgeway is working this semester as an extern for Judge Michael John Aloi in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.
“I wanted to pursue a judicial externship because I am interested in litigation and wanted to gain access and knowledge of the judicial process from within the court system,” she said. “On top of that, I have been inspired by Judge Aloi since he administered the oath during my 1L orientation. I knew that I would have a valuable externship experience in his chambers.”
In addition to her externship, Ridgeway is active within the law school community. She is an American Bar Association Representative and a West Virginia State Bar Representative, serving as a liaison between the organizations and her law school classmates. She is also president of Black Law Students Association, a member of WVU Law’s Moot Court Board and a member the WVU Public Safety Advisory Committee.
According to Ridgeway, her secret to success has been an Outlook calendar tied to her law school email address. This helps her keep all her meetings, assignments and PAC duties organized in one place. She also sticks to study and homework tactics that work best for her and tries not to worry about what other students are doing to prepare for class.
“Each student learns and approaches law school differently. What works for one person may not work for the next,” she said. “Although law school can be a very competitive environment, I am of the mindset that I am my own competition: I can always do better than I have before.”