When Valerie Amaral Stanwood arrived at UMass Dartmouth as a freshman, she knew she was in school for the long haul. However, she wasn't certain about what she wanted to study. "I always knew that I wanted to continue beyond my bachelor's degree," she said. "When I first started at UMassD, I was going to major in music."
However, Val took a Political Science course, which completely changed her focus. Instead of studying musical notes, she decided to major in Political Science and study law notes. "One of the special things for me about UMass Dartmouth was the idea that you could change your major," Val said. "It's a school with diverse classes that you can sample."
Not only did UMass Dartmouth give Valerie the opportunity to sample classes, it also gave her the opportunity to continue her education. With scholarships and grants, Valerie was able to leave the Dartmouth campus virtually debt free, which allowed her to attend Suffolk Law. "University scholarships had a huge impact on my life and the things I've been able to do," she said. "They allowed me to not only get my bachelor's degree, but also get my law degree, something I would never have been able to do if it weren't for UMass Dartmouth."
Now, Valerie, who is an accomplished singer and previous Miss Massachusetts winner, practices law at Hoyt Legal in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. She continues to applaud her alma mater. It was the place where she learned to think critically and see things from a different perspective. "When you practice law, you have to think critically and learn how to ask the right questions," Val said. "Studying Political Science helped me develop those skills."