Rachael Hinkle remembers well the first quiz she took as a Huntington University freshman in 1997. "We were asked to list the five cognitive skills: comprehension, retention, analysis, synthesis and evaluation," she says. "A lot of colleges emphasize the first two skills, but the emphasis at Huntington on the last three skills gave me the basis for my success in law school."
A native of Round Beach Lake, Ill., Rachael went from home-schooled high-schooler and National Merit Scholarship finalist to law school student in just two-and-a-half years. Along the way, she received a Huntington University Dean’s Scholarship, completed a bachelor degree in history (January 2000) with a 4.0 grade-point average, and was co-recipient of the annual Ron Frank History Department Award.
It only follows that Rachael was the youngest in her class at Ohio Northern University’s Pettit College of Law. There, she won the prestigious Anthony J. Celebrezze moot-court competition, presenting her case before a panel that included Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard. In her third year at Pettit, Rachael was managing editor of the law review and also had two of her own papers published.
After graduating second in her law-school class in 2003, Rachael promptly passed the Illinois bar exam. She then went on to be one of two clerks serving Senior Judge Robert Broomfield in the U.S. District Court for Arizona. Rachael also worked on the civil side of the judge’s caseload, which included up to 300 cases — civil and criminal — at any given time.
"I do research and writing and sit in on hearings," Rachael said. "I make sure the judge is always abreast of pending cases; he doesn’t have time to wade through the myriad details of every case."
The details of Rachael’s decision to attend Huntington are less complex. "I wanted to go to a small, Christian liberal-arts college, and Huntington’s academic scholarships were much better than those offered me by other schools," Rachael said. "I also wanted a chance to play softball. Since I was home-schooled, I didn’t have the opportunity to play on school-sanctioned teams, although I did play on independent teams."
While her parents — Ron (who has an M.B.A.) and Julie (who has a bachelor degree in accounting) — provided Rachael with the education she needed to excel in college, Huntington prepared her well for law school.
"I can’t say enough about the undergraduate education at Huntington, especially in the history department," Rachael said. "I graduated second in my law-school class in large part because of the preparation I received at Huntington. I think the history major is one of the most challenging academically, when it comes to analytical thinking. In law school, ... it takes the last three cognitive skills emphasized at Huntington — analysis, synthesis and evaluation — to come up with the best argument."
Huntington University’s pre-law program has a solid reputation. "It seemed as though there were always other Huntington University alumni in law school," Rachael said. "Pettit College Dean David Crago says he goes out of his way to find students who come from colleges such as Huntington because those students are so well prepared."
Students need to be prepared for the rigors and competition of law school and beyond. Even with great grades and credentials, Rachael earned just four interviews from the more than 160 judges to whom she applied for a clerkship. And, more than 200 hopefuls have applied for her current position when she completes the program.
Regardless of what she does next, we know Rachael will do well — nolo contendere.
"I enjoy academics, and I’d like to teach, but having a doctorate would also be extremely valuable if I decide to practice law."
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