G. Heidi Levin, paralegal certificate holder
Between her family and full-time career as a deputy sheriff, G. Heidi Levin’s schedule is full. Add to that two horses and her barn chores, and there’s little time left for herself.
So when Levin was thinking about enrolling in a paralegal certificate program, she thought long and hard about adding another obligation to her already tight schedule.
“I’m always going, going, going,” Levin said. “I knew I wanted to do a paralegal program, but I had to find time to fit it in.”
After looking at a few different programs in Wisconsin, Levin choose the UW Oshkosh Paralegal Certificate program, which she could complete entirely online.
“I got a good reference to the UW Oshkosh program from my district attorney’s office,” she said. “Plus the fact that it’s online—it just seemed like the best fit.”
Levin completed her online coursework over her lunch hour. While there are assignment deadlines, she said much of the learning could be done on her own schedule.
She began the program in April 2011, and she completed it one year later. The program includes five courses and a free, online orientation course. Course topics include paralegal research, jurisprudence, litigation, management and career development.
“My favorite course was the Paralegal Career course. I liked it because we got the chance to write our own resume and portfolio, and we interviewed other paralegals to find out what they liked about their job,” Levin said.
As a deputy sheriff for the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department in Kenosha, Wis., Levin already does some of the duties of a paralegal.
“I draft criminal complaints and do a lot of paralegal work,” she said. “The class helped me to learn new laws and changes in case laws, and I got the opportunity to get out of my own little traffic world. I learned a lot about resources and other career opportunities.”
Levin said that paralegals can work in a variety of industries, such as real estate, insurance and legal offices.
“The program shows you all of the different routes you can take once you earn your certificate,” she said.
Levin plans to stay in her field as a traffic officer, and she said earning the certificate has helped her in her current position.
“Having the certificate just rounds me out,” she said. “I have more to add to the table of because of what I’ve learned, what I’ve been exposed to and who’ve I’m met and connected with.”
Levin also had a very personal motivation for completing the program.
“My mother died in 2009,” she said. “I had been talking about doing the program for a while. Before she passed away, she made me promise to complete the program.”
Levin’s mother was a teacher who worked at UW Oshkosh after she retired, evaluating student teachers.
“She really valued education, and I feel so good that I earned my certificate,” Levin said.
When asked if she would recommend the program, Levin responded with a resounding, “absolutely!”
“I’m already talking to people about the program,” she said. “It’s especially good for someone who wants to make a career change.
“Paralegals have so many job opportunities. I tell people they can keep working and broaden their horizons and go for something different,” she said.
The Paralegal Certificate Program begins with a free, one-hour online information session. Students who are interested in the program are also required to connect with the program instructor, who provides advising and registration assistance.
Each of the five classes lasts seven weeks. Classes are designed to meet the needs of individuals who are new to the paralegal field and those who have no experience. For more information on the program or to register, visit www.uwosh.edu/conted/paralegal.