Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Rachel Paul

PaulName: Rachel Paul ’08

Current Occupation: Attorney, Internal Revenue Service

Education: BA (History / Minors in Economics and Management Studies), University of Rochester, 2008; JD, University of Virginia School of Law, 2011

Current place of residence: Live in Rockville, MD, work in Washington, D.C.

Community Activities: Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), Volunteer with Kids Enjoy Exercise Now

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?  

For me, it was all about the feeling.  I grew up in Maryland and hadn’t even heard of Rochester but made a stop there when I was visiting Cornell.  I knew immediately it was somewhere I wanted to be.  The campus is gorgeous, it feels so laid back, and I actually kind of enjoy the weather!

When and how did you choose your major?  

I thought going into college that I wanted to teach history, so I knew history would be my major from day one.  I had amazing history teachers in high school that made history feel like a collection of incredibly interesting stories and I wanted to be able to share that with others.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was a tutor and mentor for Project CARE for the same two city school kids throughout my time at Rochester.  The consistency they experienced by spending time with me for multiple years really made them trust and open up to me.  I feel like I made a huge difference in their school experience, both academically and socially.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I went straight to law school because I felt like I was in a groove with studying and was ready to tackle it right away.  But before school started, I went to Africa for six weeks which was an incredible way to unwind and give me some perspective on life before three more years of hitting the books.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?  

As a history major, you read and write – A LOT!  Since I was already used to that, I had a big advantage in law school where you’re reading constantly and grades are often based solely on writing skills.  Being a strong writer is also very important in my career now.

What advice do you have for current students?

Get out in the community!  Most of my personal growth during college was a result of making connections with people off-campus.  When you get involved in the city, you develop practical skills while making a difference at the same time.  And study abroad if you get the opportunity – I never felt more independent and accomplished as I did while exploring another country for a semester on my own.