Senior Rose Schaefer will be the first woman graduate of Oklahoma Christian University to attend Harvard Law School when she moves to Massachusetts in the fall, according to Director of Alumni Communications and Research Chris Adair, yet she said she has yet to feel completely comfortable sharing that news with her Oklahoma Christian peers.
“It feels weird to be the person to tell people, ‘Hey look what I did!’ since there was a time I was convinced I wasn’t going to get in anywhere,” Schaefer said.
According to Harvard University Law School, last year 5,485 applications were submitted to the Ivy League school, but only 908 acceptance letters were offered. Before Schaefer, there have only been two other Oklahoma Christian graduates who have attended Harvard, Jay Tabor, class of 1986, and Caleb Griffin, class of 2011.
Schafer recently visited New York City, NY, Boston, MA, and Washington D.C. to visit various law schools on the East Coast. She toured Columbia University, University of Virginia and Harvard University, after applying to 13 schools, 10 of which she was accepted, two she is waiting to hear from and one at which she was waitlisted. After receiving scholarships from Columbia and UVA, Schafer said she narrowed down her top three to Columbia, Harvard and UVA.
“I did not expect to feel so west-coasty,” Schaefer said. “I felt like people thought I should have been in California or Oregon. I felt like I had to prove myself that I worked hard, probably harder, to get from a small school in a fly-over state to Harvard.”
Schafer will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in history in April.
“I do not think you can ever be fully prepared going into law school,” Schaefer said. “I have never read 100 pages of legal textbooks in a night. But, I am as prepared as I think you can be. Being in the English and history departments was really good for me. Everyone says English is one of the best majors to have going into law school.”
Growing up, Schaefer said she always took an interest in her studies and planned on going to graduate school for as long as she can remember.
“I knew doing undergrad would not be enough,” Schaefer said. “I knew I wanted to stretch myself, and I knew after my undergrad I would need to go straight into graduate school. I decided my freshman year I wanted to go to law school.”
While attending Oklahoma Christian, Schaefer was involved in social service club Gamma Rho, was a mentor at Stanley Hupfield Academy, was a member in Sigma Tau Delta and participated in the Oklahoma Christian Honors Program. Schaefer said she thinks these activities contributed to her admittance success.
“I think it helps having both internships and regular person jobs, things like being a server,” Schaefer said. “I also think commitment to things helps. I am not one of those people who has 1800 things on my resume, but the things I do, I do long term.”
Schaefer said one challenge she had to overcome on her journey to Iy League law school admittance was competing against other Ivy League school applicants.
“When I interviewed with Columbia on Skype my interviewer said, ‘Oklahoma Christian? We do not get a lot of applications from there,’” Schaefer said. “He asked me if I was challenged, and I had to prove I was doing something just as legitimate and I have worked just as hard as someone coming from Ivy’s staying in the Ivy League.”
Originally from Portland, OR, Schaefer decided to attend Oklahoma Christian after weighing the financial benefits of the national merit achievement she received in high school.
“I had dinner with John deSteiguer after I had already told them I was not coming to OC,” Schaefer said. “They still wanted me to go anyway. Having that personal connection was really good and made me realize this would be a good school for me.”
Departmental Chair for the Department of Language and Literature Cami Agan and Departmental Chair of the Department of History and Political Science John Maple wrote Schaefer her academic letters of recommendation.
“What OC gave me was people who were invested in me,” Schaefer said. “I had a personal connection and resources I could use to rely on to have good letters of recommendations. People like Dr. Agan, who has known me since I was a freshman crying in her office, and Dr. Maple, who looked at all of my test scores from his classes so he could write me a good letter of rec.”
Junior English Major Ian Jayne, a close friend to Schaefer, said Schafer’s impact on the English department is significant.
“As evidenced by her numerous achievements, Rose is a genius,” Jayne said. “But she is not just brilliant — she is also my most practical friend, and the best typographer I know. She lives by example, and has a keen sense of justice, both traits that will make her an excellent attorney.”
Jayne said he sees no end in sight for Schaefer’s accomplishments, even after she receives her diploma in April.
“Harvard, or wherever else she decides to attend, is just the beginning for Rose,” Jayne said. “I am so privileged and proud to call her one of my best friends, and I am a better person for knowing her.”