Student Darnesha Carter: star academic and advocate

Darnesha Carter knew that she wanted to be an advocate while she was still a high school student in Riverview, Florida. Once she had decided that law school was her goal, Darnesha took all of the law school prep courses available at Riverview High School.

Student Darnesha Carter.

Student Darnesha Carter.

When it came time to choose a law school, Darnesha said that Stetson stood apart. The friendly campus, a full merit scholarship, and proximity to family made the choice easier.

“To someone thinking about law school, I’d say enjoy the experience,” said Darnesha, who is now wrapping up her third year of law school at Stetson. “I wish someone had told me to enjoy the moment.”

At Stetson law school, Darnesha quickly became a star academic and advocate. Participating in and winning second place in Stetson’s Closing Argument Competition for first-year law students, and later becoming a moot court board member, helped Darnesha hone her oral communication skills. She joined the Stetson Law Review during her first year and later became an editor. She rose to the top of her class academically. She is a member of the Honors Program and has landed on the Dean’s List every eligible semester of law school. The first in her family to attend law school, Darnesha received the highest grade in Research and Writing and was invited to join Stetson’s moot court team.

“Moot court helped with building my confidence,” said Darnesha, who admitted she was nervous during her first presentations before the moot court competition judges.

“Brief writing on moot court gives you a sense of what good legal writing looks like,” Darnesha added.

By the time she participated in her fourth moot court competition, Darnesha said she felt more confident, even tying for best oral advocate in her latest competition.

She explained that working on the Stetson Law Review helped her to become a more meticulous writer with a keen eye for detail.

The former psychology and English major said that her performance in law school is directly related to her mental state.

She described how becoming confused about a tough law school exam question completely shattered her concentration early in her academic career. Darnesha said she learned then that the approach decided the outcome.

“Don’t let a bad grade be the ultimate deciding factor,” Darnesha advised future law students. “Don’t let a grade define you.”

At the root of Darnesha’s determination to succeed is a desire to help people.

Working with Special Olympics for two years while studying for her undergraduate degree at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Darnesha said that she realized how much we take for granted. Watching individuals with challenges competing to be the best in the Special Olympics was inspiring, Darnesha said.

In law school at Stetson, Darnesha participated with fellow law students in Law Fest to help people convicted of crimes apply to have their rights restored. She joined the Healthcare Law Association in her first year of law school and later the Black Law Students Association, where she was named member of the year 2013-2014. After law school, Darnesha said that she plans to use her expertise in civil litigation and business to help start-up businesses and to give back to the community.

“Joining student organizations opens up a lot of learning and networking opportunities and being a member of the executive boards allows you to develop leadership skills,” said Darnesha. “These are the people you will work with post-graduation. They are more than friends—they will ultimately be your partners and colleagues in the legal workforce.”

Darnesha worked as a summer associate with Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, where she was recommended to Judge Mary S. Scriven in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Her internship with Judge Scriven has led to a job offer when she graduates.

“Watching Judge Scriven, I was impressed by her intellect, quick thinking, and strong ability to impartially administer justice,” said Darnesha, whose dream is to one day work in the judiciary.

Darnesha said, “I try to live by the saying: shoot for the moon, you might just land among the stars.”