A Day in the Life is a Campus Times series highlighting the studies and lives of UR students. Answers have been lightly edited for grammar, clarity, and/or style.
Junior Kimberly Heagerty is majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Legal Studies.
A Typical Wednesday:
8:00 a.m.: Wake up, get ready for the day, and head to Java’s to grab coffee.
9:00 – 9:50 a.m.: ME 225 class (Fluid Dynamics), either in-person on campus or remotely from Java’s.
10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Work remotely for the NYS Office of the Attorney General as a Consumer Frauds Mediator.
2:00 – 3:15 p.m.: PSCI 281 class (Formal Models in Political Science) on campus.
3:30 p.m.: Drive back to my apartment to do some homework and take a break.
6:30 p.m.: Work remotely for my Patent Law Internship.
8:30 p.m.: American Society of Mechanical Engineering e-board meeting.
9:00 – 11:00 p.m.: Mock Trial team meeting.
11:30 p.m.: Sleep.
Wednesdays are typically my busiest day of the week. I feel like I’m constantly busy, but it is also the day of the week where I get my longest break. It’s easy for me to get overwhelmed on Wednesdays, but living off campus and having the ability to do some classes and work remotely has been a blessing. When you’re stuck on campus all day every day, it can get hard to change your mindset. Variety is incredibly nice, and I love having the opportunity to switch up my environment to keep me from getting antsy.
Why Mechanical Engineering and Legal Studies?
In high school, I joined my school’s Mock Trial team because they needed more members, and I absolutely fell in love. I got the chance to have my own Elle Woods moments every week. From there, I knew I wanted to go into law.
The problem was, though, that I’ve always struggled with committing to one plan or hobby. I’ve always changed my mind on what I wanted to do, so I knew that if I went solely for law, I would have to go to law school after undergrad, and I wasn’t sure if I would want to do that after I graduated. I needed to find a major that would allow me to change my mind. Something that would give me the option to go to law school or go right into the workforce.
My dad has always pushed me towards the STEM field, so after taking AP Physics in high school, I landed on mechanical engineering. I was always asking questions about how things worked as a kid, and I spent many hours watching “How It’s Made,” so it felt right. If I go to law school, I can pursue a career in patent law, and if I decide not to, I can work as a mechanical engineer. Right now, it’s looking like after I graduate, I’ll take the patent bar exam and work as a patent agent for a while, then decide whether or not I want to go to law school. Who knows, though, that might change.
What is your favorite thing about your studies?
I love the variety. I mentioned this earlier, but it’s hard for me to stay focused on one thing for too long. Being able to spend part of my day working on engineering-related things, and then spending the other part on legal studies, is really stimulating. It prevents me from getting hyper-focused on one thing and burning myself out, which I have an unhealthy habit of doing.
What’s challenging about your studies?
Because I plan on going into patent law, very often I feel like I’m a fake engineering student. It’s hard to be surrounded by peers who are incredibly dedicated to the field and spend all of their time working with machinery or in a research lab. I like to think that I am dedicated to mechanical engineering, too, but because I also spend a lot of my time studying law, there is sometimes this feeling that I’m not enough of a STEM major. It can be discouraging, but I also have amazing peers who make me feel validated in my studies and are endlessly supportive.
What is your favorite class you’ve taken?
This is a really hard question. Since my major and minor are pretty different, the classes I’ve taken have covered a vast amount of topics that are hard to compare to each other. I guess I would have to say for Legal Studies, PSCI 226: Act Locally? Local Government in the US, and for MechE, ME 104: Engineering of Bridges. Both classes were the first classes I took for Legal Studies and Mechanical Engineering, respectively. Local Government was amazing because it was a class where you were forced to leave the bubble that is the University. Some assignments consist of taking public transit to the Public Market, or to a certain village you’ve never heard before. I didn’t really know what Rochester had to offer until I took this class. It was on a trip for this class where I first went to Java’s, my absolute favorite cafe, and now I come here (currently writing this at Java’s) just about every day. Engineering of Bridges was a great class because it sort of verified that I belong in this major. I looked forward to attending class and doing the homework. Every day I had that class, I got that feeling you get when you’ve been slaving over a problem forever and you finally solve it. I think there’s a word for that, but I can’t remember it. Either way, that feeling has kept me interested in Mechanical Engineering for the past few years.
What is something you want people to know about Mechanical Engineering and Legal Studies?
I think the biggest thing is that you don’t have to spend all of your time doing engineering related things to be an engineer. If you want to, absolutely, go do that! But spending time doing other things you like doesn’t make you any less of an engineer. This also goes to any other field, too. You shouldn’t feel pressured to dedicate all of your time to the field you’re majoring in simply because other people around you are. I don’t know a single other person who even really understands what patent law is, but I’m interested in it, so who cares? I’m not spending my weekends fixing up old cars — in fact, I’m spending my weekends competing in mock trial tournaments — but that doesn’t mean I’m not a mechanical engineer. You don’t have to confine your studies to what they are traditionally defined by.