You helped Christopher jump-start his law career at Willamette

by Brandy Polo,

  • Head shot of Christopher Ishihara

Growing up in Skagit County, Washington as the son of two University of Washington graduates, Christopher Ishihara ’20, JD’22 thought he'd follow in his family’s footsteps.

But after an unforgettable visit to Willamette as a high-school senior with his mother, they were immediately impressed with both the beauty of campus and with the friendly and welcoming people they met.

But what made attending Willamette a truly easy decision for Christopher was the 3+3 program, which gives students an incredible undergraduate and legal education in six years rather than seven. Christopher had nurtured a long-term dream to attend law school, so his future as a dual-degree Bearcat was sealed.

You gave Christopher a great educational experience

For Christopher, earning his law degree has been his main academic goal since his teens, but to continue his journey from his undergraduate commencement to Willamette Law across Winter Street, he knew he needed scholarship support. Because of you, Christopher received scholarships at both the College of Arts and Sciences and Willamette Law, which allowed him to earn his second degree and complete the 3+3.

“Scholarships have really made all the difference, both in my decision to come to Willamette and staying with the law program,” he says. “Because without them, I couldn't afford it. I would have had to stop at undergrad.”

Christopher’s liberal arts education prepared him for law school by giving him the critical thinking skills and broader academic perspective he needed.

“You need to take notes on the right things and that has really helped in law school. Having the spread of classes in undergrad helped, especially the history and religion classes that helped me understand the context of legal cases better,” Christopher says.

Now, looking forward to his second year at Willamette Law, he sees the benefits his undergraduate studies have had on his academic development even more.

You are part of Christopher’s community

For Christopher, Willamette’s motto, “Not unto ourselves alone are we born,” is more than just a slogan. Whenever he has sought help from another student or faculty or staff member, someone has been there for him.

During Christopher’s first semester, the law school’s alumni mentor program connected him with Seth Nickerson JD ’14. Christopher credits him with helping secure an externship at the Oregon Tax Court.

“When Christopher told me that he had applied for an externship there, I was happy to mention to a former colleague that Christopher would be a good fit for the court,” Seth says. But, Seth adds, “Christopher deserves all the credit for his success.”

Seth learned from experience that mentoring is an essential part of being a good lawyer. “Many of the attorneys that I most admire are constantly mentoring,” Seth says. “I have learned from their example that being a mentor is just something that good attorneys do.”

From experiencing Opening Days as an undergrad to using the Willamette alumni network to secure new learning opportunities, one thing has remained constant for Christopher: the support of the Willamette community.

“It’s a culture at Willamette,” Christopher says. “The faculty are accessible and people are here to help you. Willamette is a community of people working together to help each other reach their goals.”

Note: This article originally appeared in the 2020 Donor Impact Report. Find out more information on how to give to Willamette.

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