Graduate Realizes Value of Wesleyan Education

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

When Michael Bush ’10, a Wheeling, WV native, started his student career at West Virginia Wesleyan College, he had no idea what to expect.  As a history major, Bush had dreams of going to law school, but as most law-bound students know, it is not an easy road to tow.

However, the experiences Bush had during his freshman year would prove to lay the foundation for his career’s journey.  Now a graduate of West Virginia University’s College of Law, he understands just what his studies at West Virginia Wesleyan College taught him.

“I think the freshman seminar experience gives students the opportunity to work in teams,” reflected Bush.  “In law school, working in teams is crucial.  It is invaluable to learn how to bounce ideas off colleagues or divide work.  One unique thing about Wesleyan, and the freshman seminar experience, is that you are collaborating with others professionally, academically, and socially.  Wesleyan’s ability to mix all kinds of students in that way really teaches you how to be successful in many types of situations with different people.”

While a third-year law student at WVU, Bush was part of a very unique experience, one he says never would have been possible without his Wesleyan education.  Bush participated in WVU’s clinical law program, where third-year law students can provide legal services to lower income individuals.  Students are supervised by a licensed attorney and become what is known as Rule 10 licensed student attorneys.

Bush, along with his long-time friend and classmate Jeff Kaiser and supervisor Scott Curnutte, handled several cases throughout the past year in state and federal courts around West Virginia.  In particular, Bush and Kaiser had the unique opportunity to brief and argue one of those cases at the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.  Many attorneys never get the opportunity to argue at the Supreme Court, and certainly, very few students get this opportunity.

“The WVU Clinical Law Program is an incredible experience that allows you to learn how to manage cases, deal with clients and other attorneys, and get a feel for practicing law before doing it on your own,” commented Bush.  “The expectations are high, just like those of a licensed lawyer, but with the safety net of a supervising attorney.”

However Bush realizes that his experience in front of the West Virginia Supreme Court was a special one, and he understands that the education he received at Wesleyan played a major factor in his preparedness for this event.

“The history program has two main components: demanding professors who require students to take long written exams and the senior capstone which features both a written and oral component,” stated Bush.  “The exams I took were very similar to those in law school.  The professor gives you a problem and lots of blank space to write, the opportunity to present an incredible amount of information in an organized way.  It is similar to Wesleyan because it challenges you, pushes you to think critically, and from alternative angles.

“The oral component of the senior comprehensive exams makes students present and field questions about diverse historical areas in front of a panel of professors.  It is a conversation back and forth, and it taught me to be organized and helped me get to the point, think critically, speak clearly, and ultimately be accountable for a body of knowledge.  I was expected to be knowledgeable about certain things just like judges expect lawyers to be knowledgeable about clients, cases, and facts.”

“It was a humbling experience to argue in front of some of the State’s greatest legal minds,” stated Bush, “and it was truly because of the skills Wesleyan gave me that I was able to have this opportunity and feel comfortable advocating on behalf of my client.”

Bush has taken a job with Bowles Rice, LLP in Morgantown, a firm he worked with for the last two summers.  He will be working in the areas of general litigation, commercial transactions, and areas of energy law. With his Bar Exam the only hurdle left to jump in his journey, Bush understands the long road he has towed and just how he got to where he is now.

“Private liberal arts education is sometimes discounted because some criticize it for being less practical than other alternatives,” commented Bush, “but what a Wesleyan education does for you from day one is teach you to be a well-rounded kind of person.  You interact with different people who are interested in different things and help you develop different skills.  This translates well into law.  Every case and client I had was different—property to family law to international issues.  Because of the ideas that Wesleyan taught me, I felt prepared for law school, and I feel prepared to enter the practice of law.”

“In addition to a solid education, four years at Wesleyan provided me lifetime of memories, inspirational teachers and mentors, and friendships that will forever be a part of me. That’s the Wesleyan experience.”

“The opportunities presented to me are a nod to Wesleyan,” reflected Bush.  “I was certainly much more prepared and had some skills that other schools may not have been able to provide. A Wesleyan education was a large part of making this happen.”