Arianne Wilt (Class of 2014)

  • photo of Arianne Wiltsenior double major in Political Science and Economics
  • in the Pre-Law Program
  • from Springfield, OH
  • student member of the Miami University Board of Trustees
  • had a study abroad experience/internship with DSM Manila LLC (the Philippines), a subsidiary of White & Case
  • tried cliff-diving and balut

I plan to go to law school after graduation, so skills related to working together and thinking critically are very important for that kind of direction. I'm taking law, political science, and economic classes, which are all important to legal and financial careers. But there are other classes I'm taking, like botany, that have nothing to do with what I'm going to do but are interesting and give me different skills.


Why Miami?

"Well, when I originally made a list of schools, Miami wasn't even on it! My mom was a graduate of Miami, so I had spent a lot of time here just for fun—I just thought I'd wanted to try someplace new. But I was interested in journalism, and so I met with Dr. Richard Campbell, the chair of the Department of Media, Journalism, & Film. He just convinced me that Miami is the place to be. He was the only program chair that I actually got to talk to out of all the schools I visited, so that just told me that faculty at Miami care and are willing to put aside time to talk to you. I was just a junior in high school, and they still wanted to talk to me! So when the decision letters came around, I had a few difficult choices to make, but I picked Miami and it's been great!

"During my freshman year, I changed my major three times. I started in journalism, then wanted to do pre-med, but really I had no idea. So I started taking all the Miami Plan classes and learned that I really liked my history classes and my introductory political science class. Then I really took to microeconomics and thought, 'Why not—let's just change!' It's been smooth sailing ever since. I've had really good professors and learned a lot. Switching back and forth was actually a good thing."

Best Things about Miami

"It's really the fact that people care. You can see that in the #3 national ranking that we have for undergraduate education and the commitment to it, and you can tell that Miami professors really do care. During office hours you can just sit and talk with professors, even heads of their department who don't really have that kind of time—but we sometimes sit there and chat for 45 minutes about anything and everything.

"At Miami I joined lots of groups and saw different things about just being a member. I'm the student member on the Board of Trustees right now, and that has been one of the best experiences ever. I've met some amazing people and we've done some positive things for Miami. That's something I will never forget and definitely one of my best experiences.

"The reason I became a Political Science major was because of Dr. Anne Baker in the Department of Political Science. I haven't had a class with her since sophomore year, but we've kept in close contact. She's volunteered to write me letters of recommendation for my law school applications, and her teaching and the way she made me interested in the subject matter are some of the reasons I switched to Poli Sci. And the same goes for almost every professor I've had since then. Dr. Patrick Haney and I have become close. If I put out the effort, they're going to give 10 times more back."

Best Class at Miami

"The most difficult course I've ever taken was Econ 301, which was Money and Banking. I'm not a huge math person and I struggled a lot with the class, especially when it came to test time. I really reached out to the professor, and with his help I ended up learning so much in the class that it became really enjoyable for me.

"But it was actually an intro into American politics class that prompted me to switch to the Political Science major. Just the way Dr. Baker taught the class was very interesting; she kept you on your toes, and there was always something different.

"And then last semester I took another Political Science course called Analysis of the U.S. Congress, taught by Dr. Bryan Marshall, who came from D.C. That was very interesting to me, especially around election time, so we got to incorporate a lot of those things into it."

Miami and Liberal Arts Education

enlarged photo of Arianne Wilt at the office"I plan to go to law school after graduation, so skills related to working together and thinking critically are very important for that kind of direction. I'm taking law, political science, and economic classes, which are all important to legal and financial careers. But there are other classes I'm taking, like botany, that have nothing to do with what I'm going to do but are interesting and give me different skills.

"I think there's been a shift in the past few years here at Miami about the importance of a liberal arts education by encouraging more students to attend career fairs and see the different jobs they can get there. It really depends on your goals for the future. If you want to go into business or industry, being a business major could be an advantage—but going into grad school with a liberal education major shows the variety of skills that you've obtained. Instead of just being focused on business, finance, and other things and thinking this is it and this is all I can do, employers are really looking for all kinds of different skill sets.

"In my case, law school admission counselors will see that I've challenged myself and done something different. With my broader experience in liberal arts education, I'll be able to work outside the box, outside of my comfort zone, instead of being very focused on one particular discipline."

Study Abroad Experience

"I spent the summer working in Manila (in the Philippines) at a company called DSM Manila LLC, which is a subsidiary of White & Case, a top ten global law firm based out of New York City. I learned about the internship through Maria Vitullo, director of the Pre-Law Program. It was open for juniors taking the June LSAT or seniors attending law school in Fall 2013 and was a result of a partnership proposed by Miami University Provost Bobby Gempesaw to David Koschik, a Miami alum and previous chair of the Pre-Law advisory board who is an executive partner with White & Case. It's really hard to get a legal internship without being in law school, so that's why it was so advantageous. It was a really long application process; we had three different Skype interviews with people in the Philippines and New York, but it was really cool.

"In Manila, I worked in the finance department for two weeks, and then I worked in the conflicts department doing conflict searches on new matters that were coming in for clients. Then I also worked a week in the marketing department. Being part of a firm with 39 offices, thousands and thousands of employees, and all these different business practices was amazing. It was just so different and something I had never been introduced to, and it was my first time out of the U.S. In the Philippines they speak a lot of English, and they were very friendly and accommodating—they would set us up with different mentors, send us to different islands, take us here and there, and they fed us a lot. I definitely gained some weight! But it was a great experience and I learned a lot about the culture and the workings of a global law firm.

"I was getting the study abroad sense while understanding how a law firm works. And it was cool to see stuff coming from New York, London, Hong Kong, and South Africa. Manila was at the center where everything was coming, giving me the sense that this wasn't just American law—it was more international law."

Cultural Experiences in the Philippines

enlarged photo of Arianne Wilt feeding penguins"One weekend our mentors took us to an island called Bohol. We jumped off a cliff, which was the scariest thing I think I've ever done, but it was so cool. We got to see Philippines tarsiers, the world's smallest primates, which are smaller than the palm of my hand. We basically went on a tour of this whole island, which is very historic. They even have a church made of eggshells! We learned a lot about their history and what's important to them while they were learning about what's important to us.

"I also got to try a bunch of unusual food, like balut, which is probably the world's most terrifying food you will ever eat. It's a fertilized duck egg that is hard-boiled; you peel the egg back and you pretty much have a dead duck embryo staring at you. But I ate it! I don't know how I kept it down, but they call you half Filipino after you do that.

"All in all, having my first experience out of the country has given me a much better global sense not only of law, but also of people in general, that there's a world outside of the U.S. I often find myself saying to people, 'Well, this is how they do it in the Philippines!' And I would do the same thing in the Philippines; I would say, 'Well, this is how we would do it in the U.S.' It's really cool to see how people do things differently."

Advice to Students

"My study abroad internship was absolutely the best thing I've ever done for myself. I was really kind of nervous at first, but eventually I just went for it. My advice is to absolutely do it! If study abroad could be a requirement for everyone, I think it should be. Absolutely don't let anything hold you back from doing it.

"I would also say that study abroad is a good choice, especially if you have goals of moving on to a law school or graduate school or a certain type of job where you're going to move around. It gives you a wide variety of ways to experience the things you're learning about. Just try everything once. Being a major in the College of Arts and Science gives you the opportunity to try different things. You're going to hate some things, you're going to love some things, and some things are simply going to surprise you."

[September 2013]