Giving and getting

Weekend JD student and naval officer D’Mia Spivey knows the rewards of hard work


At 21, D’Mia Spivey was responsible for overseeing, operating, and maintaining advanced warships, all while guiding sailors at sea and ensuring the well-being of the entire crew. Deployed for months on end—with only water to the horizon in every direction—is both mentally and physically taxing, Spivey says, before adding: “It takes a lot, but it also gives a lot.”

An active-duty commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, Spivey is also a 1L student in Loyola’s Weekend JD program. Law school has been her dream since high school, when she took a debate class with a friend who didn’t want to take it alone. Spivey was a natural.

“I ended up going to the state competition as a soloist for extemporaneous speech,” she says. “I just loved it, and law seemed like the profession that would use those skills the most.”

Before law school, of course, was college, and the daunting cost of that drew Spivey to ROTC. It was a comfortable option for her; both of her parents and her grandmother made careers in the U.S. Army. They joke that the military is the family business.

Again, Spivey was a natural; she loved serving and the “incredible leadership skills and growth” she says it offered her. Now in her sixth year, the 27-year-old is stationed as a ship’s officer at the Recruit Training Command Great Lakes near North Chicago, Illinois.

“It’s boot camp, and I oversee a staff of 110 sailors who do the actual training,” Spivey says. “I take care of them so they can make sure the recruits go from civilians to trained sailors in 10 weeks.”

She also teaches three courses—on ethics, on resiliency in the military, and on sexual assault and prevention response—because, she says, “as officers, we are expected to be the moral and ethical standard.”

The position gave Spivey something close to a regular work-week schedule, which meant she could pursue that long-desired law degree. Loyola’s Weekend JD (WJD) program—which meets Saturday and Sunday every other weekend—turned out to be the right fit.

“Everyone is supportive. Everyone is generous with their knowledge. I truly feel like we’re a unified group working toward one common goal.”

“The WJD program is geared toward nontraditional students,” she says, “If you’re in this program, it’s because you have a full-time job and big commitments outside of school.”

When she talks about the WJD program and her 1L cohort, Spivey projects the same feelings that she has about deployment: It takes a lot, but it also gives a lot.

“It’s a tough curriculum, and my classmates and I have radically different backgrounds,” she says, “but everyone is kind. Everyone is supportive. Everyone is generous with their knowledge. I truly feel like we’re a unified group working toward one common goal.”

Reflecting on her nearly-complete first year in the program, Spivey says, “I want people considering this program to know that you might think your story is [unsuited] for law school, but you have a place here. Loyola wants you to be a part of this program.”—Liz Miller (March 2024)


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