Legal Proceeding

Clarissa Verleur '17

Last Christmas break at the Verleur family home in Newton, New Jersey must have been a site to see. Having received her LSAT score a couple months earlier, Clarissa – a double major in English literature and American studies – had decided to move law school from her back burner to the front one. And she cranked the heat as high as it could go, using the holiday season to spread out and write applications to – wait for it – 14 law schools.

"Fourteen is ridiculously a lot," she laughs. "I knew I wanted to stay on the East Coast so I circled all the schools within the ranges of my GPA and LSAT score. I didn't think my chances of getting in were that high. Turns out it was fine."

Quite an understatement. Verleur was accepted to all 14. "I didn’t really have a Christmas break but it was worth it," she says.

Verleur will attend Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia this fall, where she will indulge her interests in intellectual property, real estate and international trade. She credits her relationships with faculty for helping her realize what she expressed as her eighth-grade yearbook "career goal," despite Salve Regina not having a traditional pre-law program.

"The resources at Salve are here," she says. "The professors are amazing. They're a wealth of information and they are willing to help you. I don't think everyone here takes advantage of that, but somehow freshman year I figured out that I probably should."

Verleur says she spent countless hours in the offices of history faculty Dr. William Leeman and Dr. Timothy Neary, discussing everything from her academic schedule to her class assignments to her future. She also relied on the support of English faculty Dr. Stephen Trainor and Dr. D. Matthew Ramsey.

"I feel like if I didn't have the personal relationships I have with some of these professors, I might not have done as well," she says. "I know they know my work quality and I would feel like it would be disrespectful to not go the extra mile for them. They're going to take the time to read it, I want to give them my best."

Verleur was initially drawn to Salve Regina because it was a small, Catholic university that offered a double major in communications and literature, something she said sets its English program apart from many others. The Pell Honors Program also appealed to her. It wasn't long into her freshman year, however, that she took advantage of another distinct Salve feature – flexibility.

"I learned that communications wasn't for me," she recalls. "At the same time, I was really enjoying American history. So Dr. Leeman led me to explore American studies as a major because it is more interdisciplinary and because I felt I was interested in a lot of things."

With her new academic track, Verleur was able to take courses in American legal history, technology, administration of justice, a film class on American directors and more. "It was a little more versatile," she says. It also led to her writing two senior theses on her favorite novel since she was age 12, one she would read every summer as her own annual tradition – the Civil War romance "Gone with the Wind" by the American writer Margaret Mitchell.

"My argument for my American studies thesis was that it's not really about the Civil War, but is more of a Great Depression story that Mitchell set in the Civil War," Verleur says. "There are a lot of elements in the book that people in the 1930s who were going through the Great Depression related to, which contributed to its popularity."

Her approach in English was to argue that "Gone with the Wind" is actually a modernist novel, despite most critics dismissing Mitchell as a female writer who simply penned a popular romance. "The popularity actually hurt it," Verleur says. "I revisited it as a modernist novel that is actually a real piece of literature."

Read more about this program: American StudiesEnglish and Communications