Cecily Kaya

Hometown: Honolulu, HI

Degrees: BA, English and Creative Writing, Dartmouth College

Why did you choose UH Law?
I chose UH Law because I knew that I wanted to balance the challenges of law school with a quality of life that I can only find in my home state.

What were you doing before you started Law School?
I spent the first two years after graduation in New York City, where I worked as a public relations account executive and then as a legal secretary at a mid-sized law firm. I also dedicated 8 months of my city life to dog-sitting a 10-year old Vizsla and two 15-year old Dachshunds on the Upper East Side in a Park Avenue apartment. That was by far the coolest job I've ever had.

Where are you headed after you graduate?
I plan on calling Hawaiʻi my home, so I will do my best to secure work within Honolulu or on the neighbor islands.

Describe a highlight of your law school experience.
I think the best experiences I've had so far are from meeting the students in my class. Each time I learn more about my peers through their responses in the classroom or conversations had outside of CR2 (Classroom 2), I see greater degrees of their maturity, ingenuity, and character.

Describe a fellow student or professor or mentor who has inspired you.
I can't emphasize how much I admire students in the day program and night program who attend school while raising a family or hold full-time jobs.

Describe your favorite organization and some activities related to that organization.
Ete (the women's flag football team) and the Ambassador program are two of my favorite organizations on campus. Although I haven't had the time to explore every club available, these two groups alone have provided the social balance that I need during the weekly grind.
The Ambassador program allows me to meet with prospective students where I can share my experiences in applying to and entering law school. Each time that I talk to an individual contemplating Richardson or law school in general, I am reminded of why I worked so hard to be here.

Ete is a great opportunity to interact with students from all years in both the day and night programs, in a setting far beyond the structure of a classroom. Once a week practices and fundraisers are a welcome relief from textbooks and the library. 

Describe your UH law school experience in 3 words.
Challenging, exciting, and early. Traffic going into town is no joke.

What advice would you give to an entering law student?
Be confident in your interests and understand your personal values. The greatest difference that I've found between undergraduate studies and law school is finally knowing what I want and why I want it.

What surprised you most about UH Law? 
I'm pleasantly surprised by the unity and camaraderie of the classes that graduate from UH Law. I was under the impression that law school was a ruthless numbers game, but I've seen for myself that even lawyers 40+ years out from Richardson will stop each other on the streets in downtown to reminisce about their time in school. I look forward to having that type of rapport with my classmates who will ultimately become my colleagues.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started law school?
Buy a lot of sticky tabs and in many different colors.

What law school organizations/activities are you involved in?   
This semester I've budgeted my recreational time to the Law Ambassador program, Ete, and Delta Theta Phi. Hopefully as the year goes on, I can find time for more activities and organizations.

Which professor has inspired you the most?  How?
Professor Mark Pettit has been a great help and resource in my first semester of law school. His 'tough love' approach to our assignments balanced with his encouragement in our class discussions have inspired me to rise to the challenge of tackling unfamiliar academic territory.

Where can we find you when you're not in class?
I try to get outdoors as much as possible to counter the inevitable hours I will be spending in the library once finals rolls around. Hiking, fishing, paddling, swimming--even running--all help me stay sane after hours of reading.

What do you like most about UH Law?
As a former East Coast resident, I absolutely love the fact that I don't spend 75% of the year hiding under a parka. I also enjoy the feeling of community within the law school campus that is a direct reflection of our unique island culture.

How would you describe your classmates?
Driven, outgoing, compassionate, diverse, and highly intelligent.

Students Speak

  • When I'm not in class, I can most likely be found in the library, it's the best place to study that I know. However if I'm not on campus, I'm usually spending time with friends or family around town, especially trying out the latest restaurants!”
  • There are a lot of fun events, panels, and speakers. These events help you learn more about the law profession and also help you get to know your classmates. While you will need time to study, make some time for these events too.””
  • There is a feeling of being one family. Everyone is working to help us to succeed.”
  • I was working at the Al Lawati law firm which provides legal service to Oman Oil in Oman. I had previously practiced law in Iran since 2001.”
  • I chose UH Law because Hawai'i is my home and I plan on staying here to practice. Also, as a Hawaiian, I am interested in Native Hawaiian Rights under the law, thus, the program here allows me to explore this interest in great depth.”
  • As a practicing attorney in Environmental Law in Japan, I was drawn to the strength of the Environmental Law Program at UH. I am striving to earn a specialization in Environmental Law.”
  • Be qualified, be prepared, ask if you don't understand, and trust yourself.”
  • The student body has been gracious and keeps a good balance between academics and social engagements.”
  • Keep the balance and communication open with your loved ones. You'll hear this 1000 times but it really is important.”
  • I consider the program as a pioneer on the frontier of legal education. One gets to experience the best of legal education while maintaining a critical eye on the process as a whole.”