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Colleen McKnight '07, '08 credits TXWES for her success

08.17.2022 | By:

Colleen McKnight is a first-generation college student who majored in vocal performance and then added a second degree in English with a focus on writing. She is the epitome of a TXWES mover and shaker. She is currently a trial lawyer for Foley and Lardner in Houston and was recognized as a Texas Rising Star by Super Lawyers. See how Texas Wesleyan helped shape Colleen into not only a lawyer, but the person she is today.

Why did you choose Texas Wesleyan University?

I knew coming out of high school that I did not want to be a number hidden in the back of an auditorium. I am an external processor and wanted to be in a place where I could discuss ideas, know professors and get involved.

I knew TXWES was a place I would get stage time and be able to do more than sing from the back of a choir. I also wanted to be in a place where working to support myself wasn’t going to make me an outlier. I loved that TXWES was a place where many students were “pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.”

If you had the opportunity, what advice would you give a current TXWES student?

I would encourage them to take advantage of the deep relationships you can have at TXWES. My experience in law school and talking with friends who attended other universities taught me how precious it truly is to have professors who not only make themselves available to you, but who genuinely invest in you. 

The depth of mentoring and friendship that I developed with my professors and classmates is still a gift to me today. I would encourage them to make the most of their time at TXWES, engaging in student life in order to find a place to plug in and grow.

Would you share one or two of your favorite memories of your time here at TXWES?

One special memory was my senior recital as a music major. So many people helped me put that show together. Alumni helped me plan the show and direct it. My classmates sang and played in the show with me, and my friends helped run the show and reception afterward. The recital was the culmination of my degree, but it was also a display of the community that TXWES creates.

What would you like to tell a student currently considering law school?

I would encourage those looking into law school to do an internship. Unlike the practical education you’ll get at TXWES, law school does not teach you how to be a lawyer. It teaches you how to think like a lawyer. One of my close friends once told me that where she sees cheddar cheese, I see swiss.

Law school re-wired my brain to see the holes, spot the issues, and then think through the related arguments. That training is necessary, but it is far from sufficient. Getting a chance to see what lawyers do day in and day out is very helpful in determining whether the investment is worth it for you. I would also encourage anyone looking into law school to focus on writing. I spend 90% of my time as an attorney reading and writing.

How did TXWES help you be successful in your career?

  1. TXWES taught me how to be bold but respectful. I learned that a combination of the two could often open doors and create solutions.
  2. TXWES prepared me to interact with all kinds of different people from different backgrounds, and it gave me the opportunity to have open discussions on a variety of topics.
  3. TXWES laid the groundwork for very personal and honest recommendation letters. My professors’ personal knowledge and their ability to speak to my character and abilities was a huge help in gaining admission to the University of Texas School of Law.
  4. The marriage of the lessons I learned about stage presence and vocal control for my music degree and the education I received in research and persuasive writing for my Rhetoric degree prepared me to write for and argue in court.