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Student takes own path to law career

Alyssa Ogawa planned to study at Binghamton for one semester. Shell end up staying for six years.

Ogawa, 22, of Queens, completed a bachelors degree in computer science in December 2004 and will receive an MBA from the School of Management in the spring.

Ogawas mother and late father met while studying for doctorates in engineering, and she was expected to follow in their footsteps. “Computer science is a very new field, so theres a lot of room for invention, a lot of room for discovery,” Ogawa said, explaining her choice of majors.

Even so, Ogawa didnt feel it was a good fit. She decided shed get her MBA and then go on to law school.

“Ive always been very good in science, but its never really been my first love,” she said.

William Ziegler, associate professor of computer science, taught Ogawa in several classes. “She has the right attitude about everything,” he said. “Shes just totally immersed in her life. In a sense, I dont see her as leaving computer science. Shell be a computer scientist who happens to practice law.”

Since fall 2002, Ogawa has worked part time for a Binghamton lawyer. She also was an intern for the U.S. Supreme Court in spring 2004.

And her decision to give herself extra time to prepare for the LSAT paid off. After traveling to New York City for a prep class every weekend last spring, she scored 174 out of 180.

She plans to go into intellectual property law, and would like to work for the Solicitor Generals Office or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Despite her demanding academic schedule, Ogawa has found time for other interests. She has written for Binghamton Prospect and is helping to establish a chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery.

She also explored her roots. Her father, who was Japanese, died when she was 1. Ogawa devoted the summer of 2003 to an intensive Japanese language program and has returned to Tokyo several times to visit relatives.

Ogawa approaches each new challenge with determination, whether its her car breaking down or coaching a team of computer programming students for a contest.

“I havent always known where I was going,” she said, “but Ive ended up getting there anyway.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08