When Alexandria (Alex) Gardella '20 entered law school at CSU’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in the fall of 2017, she was not sure what to expect. She had graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from John Carroll University in business management and was a member of the University’s pre-law society but was unsure of her place in law school. Gardella quickly learned to thrive within the law school environment and three years later will graduate CSU C|M|LAW this spring as class valedictorian.
“Graduating law school is the biggest accomplishment of many of (my and many of my classmates’) lives, and finishing as valedictorian makes the accomplishment even more special,” Gardella said.
Gardella became interested in law school while attending business law and human resources courses at John Carroll. She knew she wanted to stay in Cleveland and felt CSU Cleveland-Marshall gave her the best opportunity to obtain a job in the legal field in Cleveland because of its terrific alumni network.
Gardella enrolled in law school with an interest in employment law sparked by her background in business and human resources. That interest was confirmed during an externship after her first year of law school with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, where she researched and drafted briefs and memoranda for legal issues in criminal law, consumer protection, worker’s compensation, bankruptcy, civil rights and collections enforcement.
During her time at CSU C|M|LAW, Gardella also served as a legal extern for the Honorable Solomon Oliver Jr., Chief Judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio; as Chief Publications Editor for the Cleveland State Law Review; and as a law clerk with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. Upon graduation and passing the bar examination, Gardella with join Ogletree Deakins as an Associate Attorney in employment litigation.
Gardella also served as a Peer Tutor with CSU C|M|LAW’s Academic Support program. It was during her work with Director of Academic Support Nick De Santis and Academic Support Specialist Michelle Landever Bond that she discovered what she believes makes CSU C|M|LAW so special.
“Nick, Michelle, and everyone involved with the Academic Excellence Program are some of the best parts of C|M|LAW because they truly want to help everyone,” Gardella said. “Their work and the program is something that makes C|M|LAW special from any other law school in my opinion.”
Gardella’s work as a tutor, along with the entirety of her final semester, were significantly altered due to COVID-19. The same goes for how she normally would have celebrated her achievement of graduating as valedictorian—by delivering a commencement speech to her classmates and by visiting one of her favorite local specialty ice cream shops. While Gardella and her classmates graduate at an uncertain time, she is confident the determination and fortitude that helped them persist during law school will be beneficial to them in the months and years ahead.
“My classmates and I all entered law school not knowing what to expect and we managed to learn how to navigate that situation. I know we will get through this current unknown situation together as well,” Gardella said.