Military Monday: Active Duty in Law School

This week in honor of Veterans Day, we asked Army Reserve member Sirena Rowland, a 2L at W&M Law, to reflect on her time serving while in law school. 

Sirena Rowland stands between two other Army Reserve colleagues.

Sirena Rowland, center, commissioned Army Reserves immediately after undergrad.

Being in law school while serving in the Army Reserve has provided me a very unique and rewarding experience throughout my time at William and Mary so far. When I initially commissioned following college, I had a few options. I could do an educational delay and put off my service obligation until law school was complete, I could enter the active duty component right away and go to law school later on, or I could enter the reserves and serve concurrently while I went to law school. Ultimately, I decided that the last of these paths was the best one for me. I took a year off between undergrad and law school in order to attend training and spend a few months on active duty orders at my unit to accomplish this. I believe this time helped me grow as a young officer because it gave me a glimpse of what the Army is actually like, and it helped propel me into my career path for law school.

While there are challenges to being in the reserve while being a student, such as attending training, meeting deadlines, and just overall juggling “work” on top of law school, the experience I feel I’ve gained makes it all worth it.  My current position is completely unrelated to what I do in school – I serve as a medical readiness officer, so I track all the medical information for the personnel in my unit, but when I’m at my unit I gain more than medical knowledge. I’m constantly learning new things, and I’m able to work with higher ranking officers who share their experiences with me. These conversations and experiences are something that I hope to carry with me into the future when I (hopefully) transition into the active duty side of the army as a judge advocate general. Being in the reserve and being a law student has solidified my decision that the Army JAG Corps is the right career for me. Overall, if I could give one piece of advice to prospective or current law students looking to join the military, it would be to dive in head first and learn from as many people as you can. You can never gather too much information, and there is nothing like hands on experience in the military. Even if you’re gaining information outside of what you think you want to do, or if you’re making mistakes, it’s well worth your while, and every experience is something that you can benefit from in the future.

10 Questions with Tolu Olaniyan

W&M Law 2L Tolu Olaniyan

1.Who are you?
My name is Tolu Olaniyan and I’m a 2L from Durham, North Carolina. I graduated from UNC in 2016 (Go Heels!) and worked for 2 years at a nonprofit/research agency before law school. My favorite things to do include watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, spending time with friends and family, and trying out new restaurants.

2. What are you reading right now?
Other than my law school textbooks (of course), I’m reading 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

3. What is your cheese shop order?
Tuna salad (in a container).

4. Favorite study spot in the law school?
Tables on the first floor by the bathrooms! 

5. Who is your legal idol?
Michelle Obama 

6. What is your go-to at Aromas?
Cappuccino and a fruit smoothie or the Shrimp and Grits for dinner!

7. Favorite arbitrary law?
It’s illegal to have a skunk as a pet in Prince William County, Virginia. Fortunately for me, a pet skunk was never a goal. 

8. Favorite spot(s) to eat in town?
Peter Chang’s for Chinese, Chopsticks for Pho and First Watch for Brunch. 

9. One thing you wish you would have known before applying to law school.
Things always work out the way they’re supposed to and time flies by so quickly so enjoy each day!

10. Your motivation for law school.
My desire to make a difference in the community around me. I’m not sure what my legal career will look like but I know my goals and current training to become a #citizenlawyer will help me make an impact in the community I live and work in.