Jake Henderson ’14 tells us about his recent acceptance to law school, and some strange things he’s seen while running maintenance on campus.

Is there anything about you that the Quest community doesn’t know?

I am adopted, and I spent some time in government care as a child. Statistically, I was more likely to end up in prison than in university—let alone law school. Two years in government care makes a child 60% more likely to be incarcerated by the time they reach 19.

Here in BC, we have almost as many families willing to adopt as we have children in care, yet we only average around 60-100 adoptions a year (out of 2000-3000 kids) because of bureaucracy and mismanagement of funds. It’s a problem people don’t talk about and they need to talk about it more. Children need a voice, especially Indigenous children who make up more than half of children in care. My background has made me passionate about this cause and I hope to make an impact in our province’s shortcomings with my legal degree.

Which brings us to your big news. You got into UVic law school. Congrats, Jake! Did you grow up dreaming about being a lawyer??

No! Law school never crossed my mind because it’s such an elite job. A lot of people have it all figured out when they get to university. My path has been a little trickier.

Here is how it happened. I wanted to help adoptive families like mine, so I started volunteering at the Adoptive Family Association of British Columbia, working on policy changes in adoption legislation/laws to get some experience. What I found was the ability of adoption agencies, non-profits, and social workers to enact change in the system was always hindered by the inaccessibility of the law.

At the end of every project, I would find myself on the phone with the Ministry of Child and Family Development, who would invariably suggest I call a lawyer to solve the problem. And I figured getting a law degree was cheaper than the price of calling a lawyer whenever I got stuck!

That’s a great story! What did you do once you knew you wanted to apply to law school?

Last year, I started studying for the LSAT and went back to take a half-semester of courses to bump up my GPA. By taking a series of difficult classes where I performed well, I was able to provide evidence that even after being away from university for four years, I could excel in a rigorous academic program. After that, it was six months of laborious studying for the LSAT, which is its own monster.

Needless to say, I didn’t have an enjoyable summer, but the hard work paid off! If anyone is thinking of the law school route, leave enough time to study for the LSAT! In fact, if anyone wants advice on law school admissions and LSAT, I have a breadth of now useless knowledge I am looking to do something with, so don’t hesitate to contact me!

People see you around campus and know you’re in Facilities, but what does that actually involve?

I joined Facilities right after graduation, and I’m now Team Lead for our maintenance crew. Along with my daily duties, I manage work-study students and summer students, participate in the Occupational Health & Safety Committee, help manage the Loading Bay, head off-hour snow removal, and do tons of other stuff nobody would even realize needs doing. I also run my own business in town, Green Truck Management, and I look after the Coast Mountain Academy facility, along with a few other residential homes in town. I stay pretty busy!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen while making the maintenance rounds on campus?

I have pulled out iPhones and student ID cards from clogged toilets and had to remove the entire toilet. I feel especially bad for those who flush their student ID cards: I know exactly who caused me the pain since I see their name! In fact, this is a perfect PSA opportunity: IF YOU DROP SOMETHING IN THE TOILET BY MISTAKE, DON’T FLUSH!

I have had the weirdest requests. People have asked to have bidets installed in their bathrooms. I’ve been asked when Custodial is going to be by to clean their rooms. I’ve also been asked to retrieve a wallet from a light fixture that was 10 ft. off the ground… How do people get into these situations?

Aside from “don’t flush weird things down the toilet,” do you have any tips for students who have big goals post-grad?

The difference between a ‘B’ paper and an ‘A’ paper is a trip to the Learning Commons. I was too lazy to head up the hill after every essay during undergrad and I have had to jump through so many hoops because of my past laziness. So…get good grades!

Also, make connections with your Tutors. The support they provide is a level above most universities. Shout-out to Shira Weidenbaum for playing such an important role in my journey!

And finally, take advantage of the Quest degree. Keystone and Experiential Learning provide unique experiences to put on CVs and grad applications. Volunteer if you can and participate in clubs to get involved. It will separate you from the pack when it’s application time. With a little foresight, the Quest degree really sets you up for success. And dream big! Don’t let hard work or a difficult path keep you from taking your life to the next level. Fear is subtle and pervasive; don’t let it dictate your future.

Finally, how did Quest help prepare you for what’s to come?

Given the intensity of the Block Plan, Quest has shown me what I am capable of. No matter how daunting the project or how short of a deadline, I was able to complete seemingly impossible tasks over and over again. This has improved my life in every setting.

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