Hayley Poindexter (BA ’16) comes from a proud military family. Armed with a desire to follow her family tradition, she grappled with how to support her country without enlisting in the military. Her passion for American Revolution history and reading made law school a fitting decision. “I could serve the government in a legal capacity by being a prosecutor. I’m upholding and enforcing the laws of the United States,” Poindexter said.
Not many juniors in high school eagerly await their history classes, but Poindexter was not your average student. “In eleventh grade, I went to history camp at the College of William & Mary. I spent a month there and visited the colonial historical sites. From then, I knew history was what I wanted to do,” she said.
Poindexter was not sold on studying in Oklahoma, but after her friend dragged her to a campus tour, “It was the only school that I could see myself at,” she said. The small classes allowed her to build strong relationships with her classmates and professors.
Studying history with Mary Frances Barnard Professor of 19th Century American History Kristen Oertel taught Poindexter how to write. “I remember the first paper she gave back to me was a B-minus, and I was mad at myself,” she admitted. After Oertel gave her writing tips, Poindexter is now at ease with legal and research writing. “On my last day of class senior year, I turned in my paper, and Dr. Oertel said ‘Your writing has really improved since your freshman year.’” She added, “I don’t know if I would be where I am without Professor Oertel.”
While studying at William & Mary Law School, Poindexter interns at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., in the homicide division. From drafting motions to observing court, she is fully engrossed in the life of a prosecutor. “I listen to a lot of jail calls and watch a lot of jail visit videos. There are some characters out there,” she said. Poindexter analyzes the word choices and demeanor of their clients. There is much to learn “if they are sad about what happened or nonchalant.”
At TU, law school was always a distant possibility, but Poindexter was not confidant in her standardized test taking skills. Four months of trekking across Europe altered her mindset. “When I was abroad in Spain, I kept thinking about law school. I thought, ‘The LSAT is not that scary. I can do this,’” she said.
The rest of her time at TU was dedicated to law prep, with one notable exception — a women’s studies class: Harry Potter and American Culture. After being organized into the Ravenclaw house, Poindexter’s group wrote a prequel to the books detailing the early life of Harry Potter’s father, James. “I don’t know if I’ve ever worked as hard in a class as I did for this one,” Poindexter laughed.
This fall, Poindexter is completing an externship in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the eastern district of Virginia in Newport News. Remembering her American Revolution classes at TU, she developed deep appreciation for the U.S. Constitution and its framers, and in keeping with family tradition, Poindexter will devote her life to protecting it. “The law is so important. We fought wars over it, and it should be upheld and enforced,” she said.