Mentorship is the Key to Extraordinary Success
The relationship between service members and their Service to School ambassadors can vary widely to meet the needs of the service member. In a case that played out over the last 4 years, the applicant and his ambassador rode a “roller coaster” together to a happy ending.
In 2016, Captain Michael Shepard (USMA 2011) had been working with Ambassador Dean Bunch (Army, Vietnam 1970-71, U. Fla Law 1973) to apply to UF Law and other schools in Florida. He was admitted to another school, but was on the “wait list” at UF.
In May 2016, as he left active duty, and began two months of “R & R” in Europe, he was looking forward to starting law school but was disappointed that his first choice, UF, had not come through.
But hope abounded. The communications from UF warned that Michael should keep a close eye on his email, because if he was offered a seat in the entering class, it would come by email, and he would have to respond very quickly by email to accept, before the offer was made to another applicant.
Throughout his European trip, Michael as instructed monitored his email closely, but turned off his audio part of his phone service because of the expense of maintaining it abroad.
Arriving back in the US in August, he retrieved a voice mail from UF Law offering him a seat. The phone call, however, had come many weeks prior. He immediately called UF and explained his situation, but was told that nothing could be done because the seat had been offered and accepted by another candidate when he had not responded to the phone call.
Dejected but ready to start at his “second choice” school, Michael called Dean to explain the course of events.
Dean, ever the litigator, immediately said, “Don’t give up. We will petition the dean at UF law.” Dean and Michael drafted the petition and filed it with the dean. Dean followed with an email endorsement to the dean.
With only a few days to spare before the beginning of UF’s fall term, the dean offered Michael a seat, which he immediately accepted.
UF Law was Michael’s first choice because, as a South Florida native, he wanted to return there to practice. UF Law alumni are active throughout Florida, and offer many opportunities for networking and job searches.
Michael took full advantage, both in the classroom and out. He clerked at the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee after his first year, and with two Miami firms after his second. During his final semester, he was scheduled to clerk with Judge Robert Luck of the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami, but ever the nimble cavalryman, there was a last minute change. Judge Luck was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court, so Michael returned to Tallahassee.
May 2019, brought Michael’s graduation, and there was one more task for Dean to perform to complete his ambassador duties. As a UF alumnus, Dean was entitled, at Michael’s invitation, to place the JD hood over Michael’s shoulders. It was indeed a proud moment as Michael and Dean completed their journey, brought together by Service2School.
Michael has been admitted to The Florida Bar and has begun his legal career as a litigation associate in the Miami office of Carlton Fields, a 300-lawyer East Coast firm.