Paris Xiong, a Kiel resident and 2016 Lakeshore Technical College Paralegal program graduate, credits her early interest in law to her sisters who watched a lot of crime shows on television, and her high school civics teacher who assigned her the role of district attorney on the school’s mock trial team.
“I’m a huge ‘Law & Order’ fan, and I loved watching how the district attorneys would help people,” said Paris. “I followed how they argued by sharing facts. I knew I was good at that and wanted to help people, so a career in law was going to be a great fit for me.”
The vision Paris had for her law career led her to attend a large, out-of-state university after graduating from Appleton North High School. “I realized rather quickly that the big school mentality, large classes where the instructors didn’t know me, was not for me,” she found.
Paris decided to take a break. She moved to the Sheboygan area where her fiancé was from, got married, started a family, and then found herself wanting to get her education back on track. She found LTC’s Paralegal program to be a great stepping stone into law since paralegals do much of the work in a law office. She began taking night classes in the fall of 2014.
Paris learned how important time management was as she filled the roles of mother, wife, part-time employee, and student. While juggling her multiple roles, she still found it important to get involved at LTC. She joined the Paralegal Student Association as Vice President. It turned out to be a straight path to serving as President the following year.
“I have so many good memories because the entire program is amazing,” Paris said. “The teachers, especially Mr. Opie, are so helpful and understanding.” Paris enjoyed learning about law, all the detail work, reading Supreme Court cases, and the hands-on practice of filling forms out – over and over – to ensure students were truly ready for the work.
“Students like Paris are what makes being a teacher a great job. She was on a mission when she started the program, soaking up the law and thinking about how it applied to real life,” said Richard Opie, LTC Paralegal Program Coordinator/Instructor and lawyer.
Working in the legal field wasn’t far off for Paris. During her second semester, a classmate mentioned a law firm was looking for a receptionist. She applied, and landed her first position in the legal field, giving her good insight into how a law office operates. Not long after that she started her internship, required by LTC for all Paralegal students, and it went very well. So well, in fact, that Bay Title & Abstract in Manitowoc wanted her to stay on and offered her a position as a Searcher. Paris quickly advanced and is currently a Closing Agent at Bay Title’s Brillion office.
During her internship, Paris was already preparing for her next step on her education path. An instructor shared an example of an LTC Paralegal graduate who went on to get his bachelor’s degree. That prompted Paris to keep her education plan moving forward. She started at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay a month after she graduated from LTC, double majoring in Integrative Leadership Skills and Psychology. Having her LTC Associate Degree allowed her to graduate from UWGB in only a year and a half, in December 2017.
“Paris was a leader in and out of the classroom, and took advantage of much of what LTC has to offer beyond academics. She then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree and may well end up being an attorney. Quite the journey,” Opie added.
As a Paralegal, especially one with experience, Paris could likely find a job just about anywhere. She enjoys working in a smaller community. “I like knowing people at the courthouse by name, and I’m able to build better relationships than I could in a big city. Living in Kiel also keeps us close to our families, and this area is a great place to raise kids,” Paris said.In addition, she finds being fluent in both English and Hmong very helpful because of the larger Hmong populations in the Sheboygan and Fox Valley areas, with many elders who do not understand the law.
“I’d encourage anyone interested in a career in law to consider becoming a Paralegal, and to look at LTC’s program. There’s no harm in trying. There is so much variety each day, and there are lots of places to work from huge corporations to title companies,” Paris said.
Paris continues holding on to her dream of being a district attorney. She’s confident that someday, which she says will be after her husband graduates from LTC’s Supply Chain Management program and their two sons are a little older, she will become that district attorney. She is currently taking steps to prepare for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and has started visiting law schools.
“Growing up, you think you have your life planned out. I’m a big advocate of ‘life happens,’ and I’m proof of that,” Paris said. She is indeed.
Having a vision for one’s life is useful for moving forward, though many may find like Paris did that the path may not always move along as expected. And an unanticipated turn can still lead to a very fulfilling career and family life.
Learn more about LTC’s Paralegal program today.