After earning a degree in English literature in 2002 from Northwestern University, Aggie Akers was considering a career with the FBI or CIA. Spurred by Sept. 11 and aware that military experience also would help with her career goals, Akers joined the U.S. Army, enlisting for six years.
“I really wanted to serve my country,” said Akers, a third-year La Verne Law student.
The Army sent Akers, who didn’t speak Arabic, to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey for 63 weeks to study the language. Test scores showed she had an aptitude for learning languages. As a staff sergeant in Iraq, Akers worked as an Arabic linguist, translating top-secret communications.
Akers is now using her natural language skills again as the new editor-in-chief of the University of La Verne Law Review, a student-edited publication that features scholarship from faculty, law practitioners and students. The Law Review also organizes an annual legal symposium. Akers expects to call on leadership abilities and other talents honed in the military.
“First of all, being able to work well in a stressful environment and being able to think clearly, being able to produce good work when you are under a lot of stress - I think that is something the military teaches you,” she said. “The second thing is being able to work with diverse people.”
Akers’ life experiences also have taught her how to connect with people. She was born in Poland and came to the United States with her parents when she was 2. Her father was a solidarity movement leader in Minsk Mazowiecki, a small town in Poland. He was a political prisoner who came to the United States after being released.
“I’m really lucky I had really good parents,” she said. “I got raised with values that nowadays would be called old-fashioned.” Akers’ parents taught her to work hard and be dedicated and focused. Those attributes made her successful as an undergraduate, as an Army officer and as a law student.
Akers was first deployed to Iraq in 2005 and was based in Ramadi. Her next deployment, from 2006 to 2007, was in Baghdad. In between, she returned to her home operating base in Colorado Springs.
Serving in the military made Akers realize she wanted a place to call home. She also realized she needed something more.
“I wanted something a little more challenging, where I could always be learning and doing something new,” she said.
The timing was right for her to pursue education. The Post -9/11 G.I. Bill gave her a great educational benefit, she said. Akers’ law school expenses are covered between tuition benefits and a monthly housing and food allowance from the government and a merit-based scholarship from the La Verne Law.
Akers only applied to La Verne. “I knew I wanted to go to La Verne and I just had a good feeling about it,” she said. “Akers also has found an area of the law she enjoys; she is working as a part-time clerk at a firm that specializes in insurance law.
“I think I have found the right place for me,” she said. “It’s an area of the law that is very dynamic.”