Our class of 2021 really are something to shout about. They’ve overcome challenges, helped others, grasped opportunities and developed their skills, showing their Essex Spirit in so many ways. And they’ve done it all during a pandemic when student life has been changed beyond recognition. We couldn’t be prouder of them so we’re telling their stories.
Tue 13 Jul 21
Inspired by her own experiences of domestic abuse Sam Howlett is passionate about being the voice of the vulnerable and marginalised. She used her time at Essex to ensure those in the community who needed legal advice got it and advocated for students with children.
Sam, who is from Colchester and has three children under ten, chose Essex for its “vibrant and supportive” School of Law and is graduating with an LLB Law.
“After experiencing domestic abuse as a child and in my first marriage, I realised how difficult it was to navigate the justice system. I wanted the opportunity to help others in similar situations,” she said.
Essex Law Clinic provided just the opportunity she was after. She was the fastest student to achieve Gold member status when her commitment was recognised in her second year and was Student Director in her final year.
Sam took on every case she was given the opportunity to work on and is now giving on-the-spot advice to clients who need support with family law. As Student Director she’s represented student volunteers on the management committee, been involved with recruitment and training, and supported new students joining the Clinic.
She says the experience has helped her develop valuable skills and been a “true honour”.
“The work the students do at the Clinic is just so important to the individual clients they serve, and the surrounding community.
“Every single experience in the Clinic has given me valuable skills that will be useful in my future career – from communication and leadership skills, to research and interviewing skills. My time here has undoubtedly meant I will be a better lawyer in the future.”
"Raising three children while completing a law degree during a pandemic has been no easy feat. However, it has been such a wonderful time and given me so many opportunities to grow and learn."
It’s not just members of the local community who have benefitted from Sam’s dedication, she’s used her own experiences as a parent to support students with caring responsibilities.
“As a mature student, with three children, going back to education was difficult. Students with caring responsibilities often face a host of challenges, mainly the difficulty with experiencing university life, finding friends, or being able to attend social events.
“I wanted to expand my network and create a support system that I felt was lacking for people like me,” Sam said.
In her second year Sam served as the Mature Student Community Officer and helped rewrite the policy on pregnant students but she wanted to do more.
In her final year, as students with children struggled with additional challenges brought on by the pandemic, she served as Student Parents and Carers Rep.
“People were having a very difficult time. It was an honour that people would share their stories and situations with me. I felt humbled to be the person everyone felt they could turn to and trust to take their feelings forward,” she said.
Sam, who is staying at Essex to study an LLM International Human Rights Law, hopes to qualify as a solicitor specialising in family law.
She says this of her Essex experience: “It has been tough – raising three children while completing a law degree during a pandemic has been no easy feat. However, it has been such a wonderful time and given me so many opportunities to grow and learn.”