University of Calgary

Father of four overcomes steep obstacles in transition from nursing career to law

UToday HomeMay 7, 2013

By Ali Abel

Sean Green is among about 100 graduating Faculty of Law studentsSean Green is among about 100 graduating Faculty of Law students whose achievements will be recognized during convocation ceremonies on Thursday, May 9, at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium. He’s pictured in the Bennett Jones Law Library at the Murray Fraser Hall building. Photo by Jaekyun ImWhen Sean Green decided to pursue a career in law five years ago, he wasn’t your typical applicant.

Green was 30 years old and married with four children under the age of 11. He had an undergraduate degree in nursing and a well-established career as a crisis interventionist for the Alberta Health Services Mobile Response Team. He consulted with the Calgary Police Service to develop a training program to help officers deal with emotionally disturbed persons, and he was involved in non-profit work aimed at preventing human trafficking.

Green was also committed to family activities, coaching his kids’ soccer and basketball teams and attending piano and dance recitals.

He had a full life — most of which would be put on hold to pursue a legal education.

Like all law school applicants, Green faced the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). With the test date quickly approaching, he injured himself building his garage. “I was in such immense pain. I wasn’t able to sleep, and I lost close to 40 pounds,” Green says. “It was such bad timing — with the four-hour exam just months away, I couldn’t sit still for five minutes.”

Green, the primary income earner for his family, couldn’t work. According to the spinal surgeon, the recovery time frame would be one to three years. Green wondered how he was going to save money for law school when he could barely pay the mortgage.

He was tempted to reschedule the LSAT and put his dream on hold, but he and his wife were committed to pursue his ambition. Green’s wife, Roshanne, returned to work full-time. Green attended physiotherapy four times a week. By the time the LSAT rolled around, he could sit through the exam, albeit uncomfortably, but with a clear mind free of pain medication.

And it was worth it. Green received an acceptance letter from the Faculty of Law.

A few months into his first semester, Green realized that getting accepted into law school was the easier part. Between his wife’s income and his student loans, they were running a deficit. Green had to work on weekdays and weekends and often missed class. It was incredibly difficult both academically and emotionally, and his treasured family time had diminished to almost nothing.

“My wife often joked that her situation was comparable to being divorced, without any of the perks,” says Green. “She worked full-time, had the kids full-time and had to manage my household responsibilities. Meanwhile, I spent all of her money. And she couldn’t even date!”

Prior to Green’s second year, the couple debated whether they could put the family through the same thing for two more years. But Green was committed. His eldest son was preparing to enter high school and was already talking about university. He wondered what kind of example he would be if he quit now.

With the help of bursaries and scholarships, Green reduced the number of shifts he worked to help pay the bills. He was able to attend classes and focus on his studies. He could spend more time with his family.

“Receiving financial assistance in my second year was a gift of time,” Green says. “Without those donations to the law school, it would have been incredibly difficult to finish my degree and pursue my dream. I’m extremely excited to start this new chapter in my life, and to one day pay the generosity I received forward.”

Green’s story inspired one of Calgary’s business leaders to help students in need of financial support during difficult times. After hearing Green’s story at the Faculty of Law’s annual donor reception, Kerry Dyte, executive vice-president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Cenovus Energy Inc., and co-chair of the law school’s Campaign for Calgary Law, established the Kerry Dyte Q.C. Student Assistance Fund. “My hope with the establishment of this fund is that some of the additional stress often associated with financial challenges in an emergency can be alleviated.”

Following his graduation, Green will article with Bennett Jones LLP in Calgary. “I’m interested in health and tax law,” he says. “Bennett Jones has a thriving health law practice which will allow me to put some of my nursing background to work representing physicians sued for malpractice. They also have a tax law department, but I’m certainly keeping an open mind because Bennett Jones has a wide variety of practice areas that I’m keen to explore.”

To learn more about Faculty of Law scholarships, awards, and bursaries, see: http://law.ucalgary.ca/prospectivestudents/scholarships

 

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