While slogging through Freudian concepts and Pavlov’s classical conditioning techniques in pursuit of her psychology degree, Alicia Lauderman’s career goals swiftly deviated off course.
That course took her from her undergraduate degree to the West Virginia University College of Law, from which she will graduate on Dec. 20, and begin a career designed to helping children. Lauderman will join more than 2,600 other December graduates this year.
A mother of two, Lauderman always had a tender spot in her heart for children. One Sunday morning’s paper acted as a catalyst and took her studies from childhood psychology to enacting laws regarding children.
Headlines decrying child abuse and neglect in West Virginia splashed across the pages of that newspaper. She read on, questioning why nothing was done to help these children.
“It ignited a passion deep inside of me,” Lauderman, 37, said. “It was then that I knew something had to be done.”
She nurtured her newfound mission through Court Appointed Special Advocates, where she volunteered to work on cases involving abused children.
“It’s not easy,” she said. “When it was time for me to pick up a case, I would go into the director’s office, and she would open a filing cabinet that was maybe four feet long. I was shocked; it was full of child abuse and neglect cases.”
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“I’d pick a case, and I learned after the first couple that I needed to set aside two hours to read the abuse and neglect petition. The first time, I would get so angry at the things I saw in there that I wouldn’t see it in an objective light. I had to get all of that out on the first read,” she said.
“I would come back hours later and read it again with a different perspective – leaving the emotions out.”
Her work only fueled her desire to be a positive voice in the law field and work to combat these issues.
“If I wanted it to change, I had to do it myself. That’s when I decided to go to law school, and West Virginia University was where I could make that happen,” she said.
Click here to read about Rashad Bates, another WVU student graduating Dec. 20.
Lauderman packed up her Parkersburg home where she had been attending West Virginia University at Parkersburg and headed back to her hometown: Morgantown.
She enrolled in the WVU College of Law three years ago, and come December, she’ll have the skills and tools necessary to be that change she wants to see in the world.
During her time at the law school, she also served as the president of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society, won the Spring 2013 Law Culture Excellence Award, worked as a Public Interest Fellow to help the underserved and wrote a bill that became West Virginia state law to coordinate and enhance the treatment of youth committed to the custody of the West Virginia Division of Juvenile Services.
Click here to read about Courtney Belcher, another WVU student graduating Dec. 20.
“The opportunities here have allowed me to make more of a difference than I ever could have anticipated,” she said. “I went into law school thinking I could affect one child at a time – or maybe a handful – but something like that bill affects children on a huge scale statewide.”
“It’s more than I could’ve ever asked for.”
After graduation in December, Lauderman plans to continue working with the Adjudicated Juvenile Rehabilitation Review Commission, where she has been for more than a year examining the West Virginia juvenile justice system.
“This is what I’m meant to be doing,” she said. “I saw something I didn’t like, so I needed to be that change I wanted to see in the world. I’ve had the chance to affect too many lives and do too much good to not be doing this for the rest of my life.”
By Candace Nelson
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