When deciding which school to attend to further their
education, a majority of people tend to look within driving distance of their
home. However, for Jennifer Pretlow, who lives in the Pacific Northwest, her
decision to attend Hodges was based not on distance, but on accreditation,
reputation and flexibility.
Growing up an hour north of Seattle, Washington, her parents
divorced when she was 14 years old. After high school, instead of pursuing a
higher education, she married her husband Nic, and the two started their family.
Over the years, while taking care of her children, Nelson
(21) and Madison (15), and working full time, she discovered there was a void
in her life. At 37 years old, Pretlow found herself unhappy in her current
career as the store manager for Starbucks. Taking six weeks off of work due to
surgery, she began to evaluate her situation, realizing, “I wasn’t happy with
my career, and I was filled with regret having not gone to college,” she said.
Considering her schedule, she began searching for schools
that provided online courses. Looking for a school with a well-developed
distance studies program, which also had brick and mortar campuses, she
discovered Hodges. Apart from its ability to offer flexibility through online
courses, Pretlow added, “We have family in Florida as well, so Hodges was the
perfect option for me.”
Possessing a passion for law and with the full support of
her husband, Nic, she enrolled in Hodges’ paralegal studies associate program
in fall 2010 and left her job at Starbucks leaving her husband as the sole
provider of the house. Earning her associate
degree in 2012, she continued onto the bachelor’s
program in legal studies, earning her degree in 2014.
“Having been through the undergraduate legal studies
program, the Master
of Legal Studies was a natural progression for me,” said Pretlow.
Throughout her academic career, Pretlow witnessed the
dedication and commitment of Hodges’ faculty members, especially Dr. Char Wendel,
Baradat and Dr.
Andrew Weyl. With different teaching styles, she admits she “learned to
adapt to each one and be the owner of my own success.” Considering Wendel to be
her mentor, Pretlow appreciated the unique teaching style and engagement Wendel
provides to her students.
“Dr. Wendel has a knack for helping students discover the
areas of law they’re passionate about, and encouraging students to explore
those areas,” she said. “Dr. Wendel was there for me every step of the way in
my six-year venture at Hodges, and I hope to continue our relationship.”
Throughout her “venture,” Pretlow experienced difficult
times, especially with the illness and death of her father. Pretlow spent much
of her time attending his appointments and supporting him through treatments
for esophageal cancer. During one semester, she told Weyl she would be unable
to finish the semester; however, he encouraged her to stay.
As her father’s condition worsened, she recalled a
conversation with Wendel, saying, “I told her I would not be starting the
summer term. She asked me, ‘What would your father want you to do, Jennifer?’
and at that moment, I knew my dad would have been very upset if I had dropped
out. I can honestly say I overcame this horrific obstacle with the help of the
two aforementioned professors.”
While pursuing her degree, Pretlow felt yet another void in
her life as she is very career-driven. With encouragement from her husband, Pretlow
accepted a job with Amazon.com where she currently works in Executive Customer
Relations. Partnering with the legal and public relations departments, as well
as various business teams, she works to identify defects and improve the
Graduating in fall 2016 with her master’s degree, Pretlow
plans to obtain her Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) in Washington and
use her experience in the legal department at Amazon.com, saying, “My education
has taught me to effectively communicate, which is truly the one skill needed
to thrive in any role. As I begin to pursue roles within the legal field, I am
confident in my abilities and knowledge of the law because of my education.”