Satisfying in Every Way
“I’d always been known as so-and-so’s mother or so-and-so’s wife, so when I went to law school, the most rewarding thing was actually having my own identity,” says Miriam Allred (JD ’15), describing her journey through higher education. Law school is never easy, but it is especially difficult as a mother of four. “I had to realize that even though I wanted to succeed in school, and even though it was hard, I still had to be home. I still had to be around my family.”
Although law school took some getting used to, Allred was no stranger to earning a degree as a mother, having earned a Bachelor's degree in economics at Chapman University only a few years before. “My undergrad was actually very easy,” Allred explains. “I went to school when my girls were in school.” Being able to end the school day around the same time as her children made balancing school and home life easier. Having a family also didn’t stop Allred from pursuing her interests. At the tail end of school, Allred served as an intern at the United States Supreme Court. Being a part of legal processes and interacting with law clerks and justices inspired Allred to pursue a degree in law.
From the beginning, going to BYU was markedly different for Allred than going to Chapman for her undergrad. First, it required relocating the entire family—Allred, her husband, four daughters, and two cats—from California to Utah. “To say it was hectic would be a polite way to put it,” Allred says. The new culture and education system took some getting used to. Even the weather was an adjustment; it wasn’t easy leaving a balmy, 78-degree California for the dry, 100-degree summer heat of Utah. And all these changes happened before school even started. Yet BYU’s prestige, affordability, and values outweighed many outside concerns. Allred knew that graduate school would mean a big shift in their family dynamic, no matter where she attended. “That's why we chose BYU, because it was an easy place for us to be able to make that move.”
The first semester proved to be an adjustment period, and Allred tried to find a balance between the rigors of law school and the demands of raising a family. At the end of that first semester, her grades weren’t to the level she wanted. Aiming to do better, Allred made changes to her schedule the following semester. “I spent even more time at school and less time at home,” Allred says, “And I came out with the exact same grades.”
This forced Allred to reevaluate her priorities. “I realized perhaps it doesn’t really matter. The most important thing, in the end, [is that] I lead with my family,” she explains. For Allred, this meant being home for morning and evening prayers—no going to school early or leaving late—and being fully present when she was home. In the end, the entire Allred family had to work together in order to achieve balance. “It was new territory for all of us,” Allred says, “[I] had to be able to trust my husband, to be able to know that he could take care of things.”
Now, Allred works as the director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity at Salt Lake Community College, where she puts her legal training to use in cases of discrimination and sexual harassment. She works hard to thoroughly investigate cases, and takes pride in knowing she can help people get the resources they need. For Allred, law school and her subsequent jobs have helped her reclaim a sense of personal identity. Her advice to others considering trying something similar? “There is a way to balance it. There is. You may not be top of the class. You may not be the homeroom mother. But there’s a way to balance it. It can be done. And it’s satisfying in every way.”