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May 25, 2018

SVSU grad headed to law school to advocate for the less fortunate

Some students arrive at college unsure of their course of study; others change majors along the way. Not Hayley Tomich. She knew what she wanted to do before she ever stepped foot on campus at Saginaw Valley State University.

“I knew how important it was to have a well-rounded academic background before applying for law school so a Spanish minor and a political science major just made the most sense to me,” Tomich said.  “This will give me the opportunity to do what I've always wanted to do, which is helping people who have been marginalized or discriminated against.”

A native of Chesterfield Township in Macomb County, Tomich completed her bachelor’s degree at SVSU in May 2018. She will attend Wayne State University Law School this fall and plans to specialize in human rights and immigration law.

Tomich quickly felt a connection to the place and the people that led her to pursue a law degree. She became involved with SVSU's moot court team, which is currently ranked No. 24 in the nation. More than 425 colleges and universities field undergraduate moot court teams.

The program offers students the opportunity to compete at American Moot Court Association tournaments where teams of two are tasked with arguing a hypothetical case. They are judged based on the clarity of their argument, their public speaking skills, their ability to answer questions, and how well they know the law and the case.

Tomich and her partner successfully made it to the National Invitational at the University of Chicago in 2017, where they placed in the top eight in a competition with 18 teams.  

“It's always been a really exciting experience for me,” Tomich said. “It's prepared me for law school because, in moot court, we're reading constitutional law and actually creating arguments to present before an audience. It's probably one of the best experiences I've had at SVSU.”

A student in the SVSU Honors Program, Tomich also completed an honors thesis. Alongside Julie Keil, an associate professor of political science and moot court adviser at SVSU, she decided to investigate gender bias in moot court.

Keil – a former attorney – said she's always been impressed by Tomich's dedication to the program and her resulting research.

“Hayley expressed an interest in helping with my research regarding moot court and gender bias,” Keil said. “I really enjoyed seeing some of the insight that she had. She really demonstrated her analytical thinking skills and creativity.”

Tomich also sat on the executive board for the Honors Program during her sophomore year. Through that opportunity, she helped to organize events for freshmen coming into the program.

“Hayley is one of those people who is always willing to help those around her,” Keil said.

“I think that is a trait that will be hugely beneficial to her as an attorney. People need to be able to trust an attorney with their problems and the attorney needs to be able to help them without making them feel badly for having problems. You can't teach that – either you have it or you don't, and Hayley has it.”