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  • Prasamsha Gyenwali

Thoughtful Leadership Adds Value to Queen's College Pre-Law Advising Program


Sari Kisilevsky, Director of Queens College Pre Law Advising Program

Law school is an exciting time for students and parents, and it can be stressful and overwhelming especially when you do not have all the information to succeed. Queens College Pre-Law Advising Program is an excellent resource for both students and community members who are seeking to gain knowledge and guidance. The advisors offer individual guidance through the entire application process including scholarship negotiations, choosing law schools, assistance with writing personal and diversity statements, financial education, and most importantly, it helps students decide on whether law school is a great fit. It is an integral program dedicated to helping students achieve their goals and it is led by a thoughtful leader, Sari Kisilevsky, current Director of the Pre-Law Advising Program. We will take a deep dive into the success of this program by meeting the woman who leads it, Professor Sari Kisilevsky.


Who is Professor Sari Kisilevsky?


Professor Sari Kisilevsky is an immigrant from Ukraine and her parents were both lawyers. She grew up in a house where law was always part of every discussion. It was a part of her life and she knew from an early age that she would have a career related to law. She is currently, a philosophy professor at Queens College and has been leading the pre-law advising program in the past 18 months. She completed a bachelor's degree in 2000 and holds a doctorate degree in Philosophy from the University of Toronto. The professor spent a year as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Philosophy at UCLA before joining Queens College. Kisilevsky realized that she did not want to practice law while studying in her junior degree but she discovered her passion in philosophy.


Professor Kisilevsky believes that she is incredibly lucky for the opportunity to study in Canada where she was able to graduate without a mountain of debt. It was important for her to complete her studies and not have giant loans. She studied hard, wrote dissertations and developed her expertise in doing what she loves by helping students understand how law affects their lives. She says her goal is to support students to make informed decisions about their future by encouraging them to think deeply about what they want out of life and how those goals fit together with their academic interests and career aspirations.


Secret to Success


Professor Kisilevsky said she learned a lot from the challenges faced in life. The professor shared that, “no matter where you are, there are obstacles and the secret to success is not being discouraged” because the “road to success is tough” and that it is “ a lot of work” but one must learn how to “use resources” and “ask for help.” ” She adds, “it doesn't mean you shouldn't be there or that you should quit, or you need to change course, but to really understand it.”


The professor stressed that when someone faces an obstacle, it is important to have someone on your side to guide you through the really difficult moments. She said, “those are often moments of transition which are really tricky.” It could be as difficult as applying to law school where the stakes are very high and competitive. The professor says that she pays real close attention to when students are vulnerable and faltering on a risky path.


A Life in Teaching & Beyond


Professor Kisilevsky believes that one of her strengths as a teacher is her ability to connect with her students and make them feel comfortable in the classroom. She allows them to ask questions without feeling stupid. She describes that at university level courses, hundreds of people in a big lecture hall can overwhelm her students. She said, “they don't want their questions answered because they're afraid their classmates will laugh at them if they ask something silly or stupid or weird.”


The professor’s main goal as a teacher aside from getting everyone on board and into law school is, “for Queens College students and graduates to have a community with each other and with the world outside.” She hopes that her students “offer each other support” and to “stay connected” as “at the end of the day, that's where your support is going to be.” “What's important to you is what you hear from each other, not from me.” She stressed that, as you “get into law school and then graduate and become lawyers and move on and so on, I would love to see a community developed. That's my goal.”


Why Should One Consider a Pre-Law Program


Queens College students are hardworking, intelligent, and passionate about their future but when it comes to planning for that future, many may not know where to start. Professor Kisilevsky said some students don't know the opportunities available to them or how to connect with the opportunities after college. She said it took her a long time to figure it out and that it is scary, challenging, and overwhelming to make crucial life decisions. The Queens College Pre-Law Program will fill the gap and help students navigate the “confusing world of law school applications (and beyond).”


Professor Kisilevsky added that “the pre-law program introduces students to different areas of academia—from dance, art, philosophy, chemistry, economics, and accounting.” As “law draws students from everywhere and it opens a lot of doors.” She said some want to be activists, politicians or entrepreneurs. She said, “teaching students about those opportunities, helping them with these paths, watching students succeed, all of that is why I do it and it's the most rewarding part of it.”


Closing Message


We enjoyed speaking with Professor Kisilevsky and we’re glad that we were able to learn more about her background and her personal and professional goals. We asked if there were any other programs at Queens College that serve as an inspiration and she said, “the seek program is so successful at putting and keeping students on paths to success.” She added that the program “sees the potential in every student even when there are challenges.” They was amazed that they would take time off to truly help students who are having trouble with coursework.

Professor Kisilevsky also recognized our program, Tech Incubator. She said, we “build community” and we were able to teach “social media” and that “it's also a perfect model of what I would love to accomplish.”


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