`Outstanding Student' Ahead Of Pace For Law School

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It was during a recruiting trip that Jared Wright ’23 was given an in-class assignment – even though he wasn’t officially a student.

The cross-country prospect from Colorado had asked to sit in on a class in the Barowsky School of Business. When he entered the class, professor Dr. Denise Lucy put him to work. She invited Jared to pull out his cell phone, open up a website, and take a personality test that would be the topic of the high-energy class.

“Dr. Lucy asked me to do the homework for that class, even though I wasn’t officially a student at Dominican yet. However, she was really upbeat about it and made me laugh,” says Jared, smiling while recalling the class.

 “Everyone around me was raising their hands and asking questions. Then afterward, people stayed in the classroom, hanging out, and talking about the class and their plans for that weekend. It felt like a big family. That’s when I realized `This is the school for me.’ ”

Jared chose to attend Dominican, excelled in both athletics and academics, and – after being named the Outstanding Student at Commencement ceremonies on May 13 –  is now heading to graduate school in the fall before going to law school to become a family attorney. It was all thanks to a first impression of Dominican that led to a lasting one.

“Everyone always says when you step on a college campus for the first time you know this is the one for you, and I always thought that was bogus,” Jared says. “I thought `There’s no way you just know it’s the school for you.’ But it ended up being just like that for me.” 

At Castle View High School in Castle Rock, Colorado, Jared was a champion on the school’s cross-country team and debate team. He was Academic All State. He became interested in law in middle school, but it was an internship as a teenager that started him on his road to law school. He was working for a family friend, sitting in on meetings that were highly charged and very emotional.

“There were times I would be sitting in on a mediation, and I wanted to just jump in and talk to these clients and tell them everything is going to be OK,” Jared says. “But I thought `I’m just a senior in high school. I can’t do anything.’ ”

Jared wanted to go to college to compete in track, but he wasn’t looking for a school that was long a distance from home until Dominican cross country coach Teressa DiPerna contacted him through NCSA, a national athletics recruiting platform. Jared’s dad lived in Crescent City at the time, so he was familiar with Northern California. Jared decided to put Dominican on his list of five recruiting trips.

“We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, and it was so pretty and amazing to see in person. Then we pulled into San Rafael and campus. It’s so beautiful,” Jared says. “That’s what’s nice about Dominican. It’s in a nice, secluded area and then you have cute towns around it in Marin County and then you’ve got the large city of San Francisco nearby. So, there is a little bit of everything.”

After meeting Dr. Lucy by chance, Jared was taken by the interest of Coach DiPerna and the Dominican cross-country team took in him. Though Jared had a stress fracture at the time and was wearing an orthopedic boot, the team convinced him to put on a pair of bowling shoes and go bowling. The cross country team was fighting to have him on the team by showing him all the fun things to do around town and give him a personal view of how the team interacts.

Jared was drawn to Dominican by the challenge of joining a cross country program (and soon after a new track and field program) that was growing and developing. He was also impressed by the business school. Though his goal was to enter law school, Jared believed a business degree would help him start his own law firm someday.

 Once enrolled at Dominican as a business administration major, Jared started shadowing teammates and fellow business majors Stefan Mueller from Washington state, and Jacob Potere from Las Vegas, when they met with Dr. Chris Leeds, Professor of Management and Dominican Faculty Athletic Representative in his office in Bertrand Hall. Dr. Leeds became a mentor for Jared.

“I kept that bond going. I’d go visit Dr. Leeds and sit in the chair in his office and just talk to him. He was very supportive,” Jared says. “He saw I had a lot of potential and he was always trying to push me. I could talk to him about anything and everything and he’d always have some advice or give me some tips for my classes.”

Dr. Leeds helped Jared connect to Valerie Kushel, founding attorney for VGK Law in San Rafael, after Valerie’s husband had spoken in a business class that Jared attended at Dominican. Jared was hired for an internship as a legal assistant in January of 2022.

“Dominican is so great at helping students get internships. I remember being told that when I was a freshman coming in,” Jared says.

Academically Jared was motivated to take 18 credits each semester, realizing he could graduate from Dominican in three years. In addition to his training/practice/meet schedule in athletics, Jared took a Service-Learning class. He was assigned to teach English to third grade Spanish-speaking students. Jared, in fact, is comfortable with reading and writing Spanish after taking a Spanish language and literature class at Arapahoe Community College as a 10th grader. 

Last year in the snow and freezing cold at the NCAA West Regionals Cross County Meet in Billings, Montana, Jared set a school record for a 10-kilometer race by placing ninth. His place and time of 30:33.10 earned Jared a spot two weeks later in the NCAA Championships in Seattle, thus becoming the first cross country runner to represent Dominican at a national meet. He placed 98th out of 262 runners there.

“I knew in Montana I had to place pretty high if I had a shot at making nationals. I was going for an at-large bid, so I knew I had to run fast and the conditions were horrible,” Jared says. “But something came through for that race and I just felt so good, and I realized I was in a great position. I remember coming down that home straightaway and I finished and I was so happy and I thinking `I might have done it.’ ”

He did it for Dominican. Now, with two years of NCAA athletics eligibility remaining, Jared is going to compete this fall at Azusa Pacific University where he will enroll in graduate school. Jared had been accepted into law school at the University of San Francisco, but he wants to delay law school to utilize his remaining NCAA eligibility. Ironically Jared’s last meet for Dominican was on May 6, where he placed fourth overall in the 10,000 meters at the Pacific West Conference Track And Field Championships held at Azusa Pacific University.

His teammates and coach gave him a warm send-off.

“It was kind of funny. My Dominican teammates are walking around Azusa taking photos and sending them to me saying `We’re exploring your new school,’ ” Jared says.  “It was kind of awkward because I’m still wearing a Dominican jersey and Dominican has done so much for me, but I was excited my friends got to see my new team/school.”

“Jared has been an exceptional student athlete. He maintained a 4.0 all his years here while balancing cross country, track and field, being an ambassador, a team captain and having multiple internships,” Coach DiPerna says. “He was the first athlete from Dominican in any sport to compete at the NCAA Championships. He does the extra work both in and out of the classroom.  He is the epitome of `going the distance’ and has been a pleasure to work with.”

Jared will run into his Dominican teammates again, and he will embrace the opportunity. Dominican helped him develop tools that he will lean on in law school when that day comes and Dominican provided him with many special memories, including an aha moment that started the day he stepped onto campus in a classroom with Dr. Lucy and an engaged group of students.

“The whole family-based community. That’s when I realized I belonged here,” Jared says. “My second year, when everybody was back on campus after the COVID shutdown, our dinner table in Caleruega Hall started out as me and a few of the cross country guys and the next day we went to class and made some friends and our table grew and the next day those people brought their friends and the table kept on growing until we had a full table.”

“If I had gone to another school, it would have been so big that I would’ve struggled to become close with a lot of people. Maybe a few here and there but mainly I’d be hanging around with the cross-country guys. But here at Dominican, it was like I’ve got friends in every single major and every single sport. This was the right place.”

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