Texas Law Mother’s Day Tribute

For Mother’s Day 2023, Texas Law honors moms everywhere, with a special shoutout going to those who are juggling that vitally important role along with the demands of being a student in law school. Managing these dual roles is a monumental task, so we offer kudos and high praise to our students who accomplish this feat with composure and grace.

Among the many Texas Law students who also are spouses and parents, let’s get to know four of these special women: Ariel Allen (2L), Madisen Bielamowicz (1L), Laura Cox (1L), and  Yue “Joanna” Zhao (3L).

Ariel Allen (2L)

Mother of Aiden (10)

Arielle Allen and sonWhat inspired you to pursue a law degree?
When I was working as an ABA therapist with children with developmental disabilities, I learned how hard it is for parents to advocate for their child’s legally mandated rights, which ultimately shapes that child’s future. Many times, I consoled devastated parents who tried repeatedly to acquire the services their child needed to receive the same access to education as their peers. I wanted to attend law school so that I could assist parents and children in advocating for themselves. At Texas Law, I have had the opportunity to do just that in the Disability Rights Clinic with Professor Wood.

How has being a mother impacted your law school experience?
As a mother, I am definitely less involved in a lot of the evening student events, but for the academic curriculum, I actually involve Aiden in some of my law school coursework. For instance, I am taking a cybersecurity class with Dr. Nielson, and my son really enjoys the subject matter – password cracking with Python, the ransomware labs, etc. Being a mother has mostly impacted how I pick my classes, since I have to be mindful of Aiden’s schedule.

What advice would you provide to mothers who are in or are considering law school?
I would encourage mothers who are considering law school to really look into mentorship opportunities. At Texas Law, I was paired with an attorney who is a mother, Kris Kennedy, through the school’s Mentoring Program. She has been a huge inspiration to me as a mother/attorney who has worked in public interest and private practice for many years. She also introduced me to a group in Austin called MAMAs. The connections I have made in the MAMAs group have helped me navigate both law school and planning for life as an attorney after law school.

How has Texas Law and its faculty supported your law school journey? 

I was a single mom in my first year of law school and I can say that my professors at Texas Law were very supportive and even let me bring Aiden to class on teacher workdays.

Madisen Bielamowicz (1L)

Mother of Dylan (14 months)

Madisen Biel and daughterHow has being a mother impacted your law school experience?
Being a mother has made me more focused and intentional with my time. My experience has also allowed me to form deeper connections with other students, faculty, and attorneys who are also parents.

What life lesson(s) do you believe you are modeling for your daughter?
I hope that my daughter never stops learning and understands that progress is not linear.

What advice would you provide to mothers who are in or are considering law school?
Balancing school or work and a family will never be without challenges, but I have never doubted that it is possible with a strong support system. A support system can look different for everyone. There is no one “right” way to do life.

How has Texas Law and its faculty supported your law school journey?
Texas Law has been overwhelmingly supportive. Student Affairs made a point to create a network of students who are also parents. My professors know my daughter’s name, and my classmates are always checking in on her. I feel entirely supported even as unexpected challenges have come up.

Laura Cox (1L)

Mother of Kingston (13) and Beverly (13)

Laura Cox and twinsWhat inspired you to pursue a law degree?
My prior experience with the family legal system inspired me to pursue a law degree. In addition, the experience of advocating for myself and my children instilled the desire to advocate for others in similar positions.

How has being a mother impacted your law school experience?
Raising teenagers while being a 1L has undoubtedly been the most challenging year I have experienced. Being a mother and a law student means I must be intentional with my time. Balancing our schedules means staying organized and cognizant of what needs to be prioritized each week. As a result, some weeks my study hours are paused until after my kids’ bedtime or picked up early morning before they’re awake, some weeks I opt out of campus extracurriculars to instead cheer them on at their sporting events, and some weeks (finals) I practically live at Tarlton so they get to enjoy extra time with my family.

What life lesson(s) do you believe you are modeling for your children?
I strive to instill and model several concepts for my kiddos. Be conscious of your perceptions. Understand that you’re in charge of your perception of reality. Take (calculated) risks. Be tenacious. Be good to yourself. Be a kind human. Try to understand others while extending grace and empathy. Practice forgiveness. Remember, it’s not all about you. Make time to serve others. It’s okay to fail, but fail forward. You only get what you give. Live simply. Don’t take life too seriously. Prioritize experiences over material things. Vulnerability is liberating.

How has Texas Law and its faculty supported your law school journey?
I am convinced the faculty placed me in the best Section and Society (Section 3, Green Society), filled with wonderfully intelligent and talented individuals who collectively have supported each other through our first year of law school. The friendships I have built at Texas Law have supported me as an individual, a student, and a mother and have been integral to my 1L year. Notably, Professors Kull, Sokolow, and Goode fostered a challenging and supportive environment that was just entertaining enough to keep me fully engaged through the struggle that is 1L year. Additionally, Dean Bangs and Hong Escobar also provided endless support, encouragement, and resources to assist in my success throughout my journey thus far.

Yue “Joanna” Zhao (3L)

Mother of Lawina (5)

Joanna Zhao and familyHow has being a mother impacted your law school experience?
I think it’s two-folded: it both challenges me and empowers me. Being a mother challenges my time management, as I have to balance my demanding workload with childcare and family responsibilities. It also requires me to be flexible and adaptable, because my plan could be disrupted at any time due to unforeseeable situations with my daughter. To this point, I’m very grateful for the fully remote or hybrid options in my first two law school years. I also owe many thanks to various law professors who approved my leave requests due to family emergencies. On the flip side, being a mother comes with special benefits. It has made me emotionally more stable and better at self-regulation, which helps me to enjoy law school. Whenever I face setbacks, I find timely comfort, encouragement, and support from my daughter and husband. My daughter often looks at me with her starry eyes and says, “Mom, why are you so amazing?” Her angelic smile truly has the power to heal the fatigue I experience from daily study and socializing.

What life lesson(s) do you believe you are modeling for your daughter?
No matter what stage of life you are in when you develop new pursuits or dreams, never let age or family become stumbling blocks. Always believe that learning or interests will bring you long-lasting rewards. You are you first, and then a wife, daughter, or mother. Maintain the curiosity, courage, and passion of your youth and bravely chase your dreams.

What advice would you provide to mothers who are in or are considering law school?
Seek support from your family and draw strength from them to move forward. Allow yourself to make occasional mistakes, whether in your studies or family responsibilities, even if you are a perfectionist because you are not a superhero. In law school, connect with other law school moms to share experiences, relieve stress, and help one another. Outside of law school, find female mentors who have children to guide you in your career, and participate in activities and organizations geared towards female lawyers, students, or parents.

What are your career goals?
My goal is to become a transactional lawyer, with the long-term objective of leveraging my bilingual advantage to facilitate smooth cross-border transactions.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!