When Athena Aherrera immigrated to the United States from the Philippines seven years ago, she had to adjust to a new country and culture.
She embraced the challenge, adapted quickly, and has been running full speed ever since – something she attributes to the support of her family, friends, school, and wider community.
From playing golf and boxing to pursuing a dual J.D./MBA degree and serving as the Law School’s Student Bar Association president, Aherrera does it all.
After graduating from George Washington University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Aherrera spent a year working as a legal assistant for Schwartz & Ballen in Washington, D.C., and then enrolled at Notre Dame Law School.
“I chose Notre Dame because I wanted a nationally known school that had an intimate academic setting. Class size was important to me, and the size here fosters a tight-knit community with helpful professors, staff, and genuine people,” Aherrera said.
“The professors have been very generous and kind with their time,” she said. “I’ve been able to develop informal mentoring relationships with many of them, and they have provided me with very meaningful guidance and knowledge – something that I feel is unique to Notre Dame.”
Aherrera started in the Law School’s J.D. program, but she decided in her second year to enroll in Notre Dame’s J.D./MBA program. She is scheduled to graduate with both degrees in 2019.
“I am very interested in doing corporate law, and a lot of clients are corporations that are in the midst of making complex business decisions,” Aherrera said. “As someone who aspires to be an effective corporate attorney, I believe that having a business acumen and being able to speak the language would be extremely valuable and helpful.”
As a 1L she got a taste of corporate law as a summer associate at Mayer Brown LLP and as a law clerk for Fannie Mae, both in Washington, D.C. This past summer she got insight into the corporate enforcement and litigation side of things working at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. This summer, she will be working as a summer associate at Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago.
If pursuing a dual degree was not enough, Aherrera has immersed herself fully into student life at the Law School. She got involved in the Student Bar Association right from the start, serving as 1L and 2L class representative. She is the SBA president this year.
As SBA president, Aherrera will help oversee student events and support the activities of all 37 clubs at the Law School. Among the activities she is excited about are the two NDLS social balls, a spiritual life retreat, athletics committee events such as powderpuff football and softball tournaments, mentorship programs for 1Ls, transfer students, and LL.M. students, job panels in conjunction with the Career Development Office, Notre Dame Law alumni networking opportunities for students, and community service activities.
“I am honored to serve as the SBA president,” she said. “I get to work closely with driven, intelligent, and creative students. Part of what makes NDLS so great is that the student leaders and club heads are all passionate about making the Law School a better place for their fellow classmates.”
Aherrera was the NDLS orientation chair her 2L year. Currently, she serves on the Journal of Law, Ethics, and Public Policy, and is a member of the Asian Law Student Association and Business Law Forum. She also golfs and participated in the Notre Dame Women’s Charity Boxing Club and Baraka Bouts tournament during her 1L year.
If moving to the United States as an 18-year-old taught Aherrera anything, it is to persevere and to have an open mind. She said that mindset has enabled her to cope with change, strengthen herself, and gain confidence.
“A lot of my accomplishments are primarily attributable to the constant support that I’ve received from my family, friends, and the mentors and people who have taken an interest and believed in me,” she said. “I am forever grateful for those people and only hope that I can be in the position where I get to pay it forward and help other people as well.”