Danya Hamad, a 17-year-old student, is currently pursuing her Juris Doctorate at Capital University Law School.
Last year, Hamad joined the Capfam by entering Capital’s 3+3 Bachelor of Arts/Juris Doctor Program as a 16-year-old.
Hamad had originally planned to stay in high school for the traditional four years while earning college credit, but then her mother discovered the 3+3 Program at Capital.
According to Dr. Kevin Griffith, a professor of English at Capital and an adjunct instructor of legal writing at Capital’s law school, the 3+3 program consists of a student taking “ … all their required general education and major requirements at Capital, accumulating at least 100 credits by the end of the junior year. They then start their first year of law school at Capital, while technically still seniors, applying the law classes they take as elective credit toward the completion of their undergraduate degree.”
After discussing her options with her family, Hamad decided to leave high school early in favor of earning a law degree.
“I had enough credits to graduate from high school and also to graduate with my associate degree from Columbus State, and this was all [during] the summer in between my freshman and sophomore year of high school,” said Hamad. “ … So that’s when I decided that my sophomore year was going to be my senior year.”
After taking several years’ worth of college credit plus classes throughout middle school and high school, Hamad was able to transition into Capital’s law school after only one year on main campus instead of the standard three.
When asked how she felt about being in law school at her age, Hamad said she views it as another environment in which she can learn, and that she does not feel a difference between law school and undergrad aside from the material she must study.
“I don’t feel like my age affects me that much,” said Hamad. “Studying-wise, learning-wise, I don’t feel like it affects me educationally.”
Hamad also said that she has never felt intimidated by her age.
“For the most part, people don’t know my age until I tell them … I feel like I act more mature than my age … People don’t really realize that I’m 17, and I don’t know if any of my professors know actually,” Hamad said. “I don’t feel like I get treated any differently or [have] any lower standards or higher standards, and my fellow classmates don’t create any other standards for me either.”
Hamad says that one of her favorite parts about law school is the competitive structure.
“It’s all very competitive here, everything is on a curve, everyone wants to be the best,” Hamad said.
Hamad also appreciates the opportunity law school has given her to interact with other future lawyers.
“I really like getting to know everyone, and they’re going to be your future colleagues, they might be against you in court or you might be working with them. You never know,” said Hamad. “It’s a very good networking system as well … You get to really build connections with these people.”
Hamad is set to earn her bachelor’s from Capital this spring for her major in international studies and minor in political science. She is on track to receive her J.D. from the law school in the spring of 2021.
Maggie Bier, a senior sociology and psychology double major with plans to go to grad school, found it incredible that one person could accomplish so much in such a short amount of time.
“To me, it means that they’re … smart, they’re very on top of it, [and] they’re very mature and responsible for that age,” Bier said.
When asked what she planned to do after law school, Hamad said she was considering getting a Master of Laws.
“ … you go into a specialized degree on a certain topic, and I want to do that at Columbia University [or] New York University for international law because they have more of an international law program,” Hamad said.
Hamad said that after earning her degrees, she hopes to become an international lawyer and work as a human rights attorney.
“I primarily want to focus on being a lawyer and practicing for clients,” said Hamad. “I really want to go into some sort of international law. That’s mainly what I’m interested in, and that’s always what I’ve been interested in, ever since I was little … I like to compare and contrast the laws and the cultures.”
Hamad is not the only one in her family to take an accelerated course track into Capital. Her siblings have also come here to earn a college education.
“Ever since we were young, my parents have always put an emphasis on education because education is important and knowledge is important…So when my parents heard about the college credit plus program, they thought that this would be a great opportunity for all of us,” Hamad said.
Her younger brother David graduated with an associate degree from Columbus State at the age of 15 and is currently at Capital as a junior studying biology and pre-med. Her older sister Summer is also at Capital as a sophomore working toward a degree in biology and pre-med.
“We’ve always been interested in education, always pushing to learn more, pushing ourselves to learn more. [Our parents] definitely supported us,” said Hamad. “ … It wasn’t that they were pushing us to do all this work, because we wanted to do all of it. They just supported us and made sure we got through.”