KOKOMO, Ind. — When Mary Hogsett enrolled at Indiana University Kokomo, she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life.
As someone who loves reading, she majored in English, then added a second major in psychology after enjoying those classes and began participating in research projects with faculty members.
While she initially thought she wanted to become a licensed mental health counselor, her experience in student government – especially as student body president – led her to consider law school after she graduates in May.
“I really like working with policy,” the Kokomo resident said. “I like helping people know what their rights are so they can make informed decisions to advocate for themselves. When I started doing student government and working with our diversity of students, I realized I was well-suited to law.”
She’s been accepted into a few law schools already and is waiting to hear from a few more before deciding where she will go next year.
“I’m very lucky I decided to attend IU Kokomo,” Hogsett said. “A lot of the factors that affected me wanting to go to law school were the opportunities I had here. I did research with several professors, which is super rare at bigger campuses, and gained skills in advocating for other students. These are all skills that are perfect for law school.
“I don’t know if my path would have been the same at another school,” she continued. “The experiences I had here helped me figure that out.”
She’s especially proud of her work with the Student Government Association. She connected with the group as a student worker in the Office of Student Life and Campus Diversity. She made friends with Mattie Tom, who was student body president at the time, and stepped in to be her vice president when the office was open. She wasn’t sure, though, that she wanted to be president when elections came up in 2022.
“As I talked to other students, I realized there was space there to make an impact on campus, and talking to students about what matters to them,” Hogsett said. “I realized that’s what you do in that leadership role.”
A few of the accomplishments during her tenure include developing a peer mentoring group to pair juniors and seniors with freshmen to help them navigate campus; re-starting student athlete breakfasts in the food and nutrition lab; creating a structure for student organizations to apply for and receive funding; encouraging students to participate in community service outside the campus; and growing student sections for athletics.
Hogsett became close friends with several international students through her work in student government, which influenced her decision to choose a career in immigration, labor, and employment law.
“It was so interesting to me to hear about their journeys here, and the immigration process,” she said. “I never realized how many obstacles they must face, and how difficult the process is to navigate. I really like being able to help people find solutions to their problems.”
Hogsett completed research projects with two psychology professors and was especially excited about one that studies how social factors affect coping mechanisms in sexual assault victims. Mentored by Kathy Holcomb, associate professor of psychology, she received an IU applied learning grant and accessed a data site that allowed her to get a few hundred survey responses. Her resulting paper was accepted to present at the Mid-East Honors Association conference.
“It was me running the study, I had a lot of autonomy with it,” she said. “It’s a topic I care very deeply about, and that I’d wanted to do my own research on for a few years.
“I really enjoy this kind of research” she added. “It’s studying human behavior and reactions, and it’s applicable in real life. Law is very similar. You’re doing something very academic, but it’s something that directly impacts people.”