Beatrice Grace, 41, is not your typical first-year law student. Grace, a single mother of two, is an emergency room nurse who also obtained her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oregon in 2009. She will be joining the Oregon Law community in August.
“I have been working toward stabilizing my family life,” Grace noted. “Being accepted to law school, and now, organizing my life so that my children and I can survive it as happily as possible — I feel so lucky to be able to realize this dream.”
With 18 years experience as a registered nurse, Grace hopes to become a legal advocate for individuals who feel powerless in the healthcare system.
Below is a Q&A with Grace on why she chose Oregon Law and what she’s looking forward to as she enters law school:
Q: Why did you decide to apply to law school?
A: Law school has been my goal since 2000. I am honored to be accepted to the UO School of Law.
Q: Why is the school a good fit for you personally?
A: My very large, extended family is here, so I feel fortunate to be able to attend such a world-class program while remaining near them. And in an area where I have so much history.
Q: Do you know what career path you want to take once you’ve completed law school?
A: During my time as an RN, I have cared for people on the worst days of their lives. I have seen them lose their lives and the lives of their loved ones, and I have seen them suffer the travails of a medical system that is so broken, it often contributes to their suffering.
I have a strong calling to advocacy for the vulnerable, and in our current system, that could mean almost any of us, at any time. I hope that my experience as a nurse will inform my career as an attorney, whether it be through actual medical-related practices, such as working on policy formation for healthcare, or otherwise as a legal advocate for people who may have less access or ability to resource justice, of any sort.
Q: What are you looking forward to most about living in Eugene?
A: I have lived in Eugene and the surrounding areas for 12 years now, and for four years before moving to the Bay area of California in 1995. I love it here and appreciate the opportunities that we have here, both outdoors and academically.
Q: Are you looking forward to interacting with the legal community in Eugene?
A: I look forward to the opportunities Oregon Law will provide me in networking with people in our community — attorneys and others — who are specialists and tops in their fields.
We are lucky to have such a large university in Eugene. The UO is a notable presence in the community and I think that will help us as law students to make great connections with people who can guide us as we study and enter practice.
Q: What are some of your personal hobbies/interests?
A: For fun, I like to go places with my children, such as the Oregon coast, on bike rides, or just play!
My first love in life was music — and when I can find time, I still play. I was classically trained on violin and piano. In 1987, I found myself playing bass in a punk band in Washington — we toured Europe for a month — it was so great! Since then, I have played in bands ranging from Celtic music to alt-folk, and currently write songs on piano and (try to) sing. I’m always looking for someone to play music with!
Q: Who is an influential person in your life or a role model you most look up to?
A: My mom is my grounding influence, my biggest cheerleader, and certainly my role model. She is undeniably one of the smartest people I have ever known. Her sage advice guides me often. She also watches my kids a lot! She and my dad have always encouraged me to believe I could do anything, to never say “can’t,” and to think creatively to accomplish my goals. And to be patient.