Staff Spotlight: Valerie Smith

Hello, blog readers! I am Valerie Smith, the MSL Program Intern, and I am here to introduce myself and share a little bit about the work that I do with the MSL Program.

I spend the majority of my time in the Law School chatting with our talented and engaging students, hanging out with the MSL Mascot, Rico Suave, and working to make the admission process as streamlined and effective as is can possibly be for our staff and for our applicants. This last responsibility consumes the majority of my work hours, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only does put me in the lucky position to work with both current and prospective students, but I also have the opportunity to witness the impact of the MSL degree (which, if you haven’t learned already, is powerful and positive) on students from the very first day they interact with the program.

If you are a current or future MSL Program applicant, you’ll hear from me many times over the course of the admission process about deadlines, materials, and more. When I’m not working on MSL admission initiatives, I spend my time just north of Chicago on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. I am pursuing my own Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration and Policy (MSHE) – a program in Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy.

Much like many of our MSL students, I am completing my Master’s degree as a full-time student. The MSL program can be completed on the full-time track in just 9 months; I’ll take 12 months to complete mine, and I get to work in the MSL program for the duration of that time. My internship is actually a function of my enrollment in the MSHE program – in addition to my classes, I am gaining valuable professional experience and familiarizing myself with an area of higher education that is new to me.

I bring this up to let you know that I’m familiar–on a personal level–with the demands of the graduate school application process and a full-time graduate program. Though our programs differ, the experience of taking a big step forward into a course of study and a career that you love is one I certainly understand. I’m always happy to talk with current or prospective students about any aspect of the graduate school experience.

I may only be in the office part-time, but I’m fully committed to the MSL students, and, in particular, the experience of our prospective applicants. If you have questions about the admission process, the program itself, or the experience of living in Chicago and pursuing a Northwestern degree, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can comment on this post or email me directly at



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