It had been almost 20 years since Abbotsford police officer Kevin Murray set foot in a classroom, but that didn’t stop him from enrolling in the JD Program at the Peter A. Allard School of Law. As a first year student, Kevin was selected as the 2014 recipient of the Lesperance Mendes Entrance Award, which recognizes a student who demonstrates academic achievement and community involvement.
“I have been a police officer for fifteen years; four in Patrol Division, six in Youth Crime, and five in major crime,” says Kevin, who adds it was his interest in understanding the Constitution and the powers afforded to police officers that drew him to law school.
Part of the service that distinguished Kevin as an outstanding award candidate is his work with troubled youth. He specifically recounts one case of a young woman who was ruthlessly exploited on the streets.
“I did not believe she would survive till her seventeenth birthday,” says Kevin. “I worked with her for three years quite exhaustively and managed to get her reconnected to her family. We got her off drugs and into a treatment facility. She recently sent me a thank you for my life letter.”
Kevin admits that as a police officer, he anticipated a natural fit with criminal law. However, the “fantastic and insightful faculty” at UBC has opened his mind to many new paths and career prospects.
While Kevin says that while he is still unsure of his eventual path, he imagines a future where he will be able to act as a bridge between law enforcement and legal counsel, and help increase their understanding and effectiveness as a team.
For Kevin, returning to school has been “an awakening of the mind,” but he admits that that the prospect held certain challenges, particularly as a mature student who had to find a way to reconcile his household budget with the costs of tuition.
“I became accustomed to a lifestyle that included a mortgage and a car payment. While I’m in law school, I still need to work. This generous award from Lesperance Mendes Lawyers has helped my dream to come to fruition. Without it, it would have been nearly impossible to forego full time employment, which I have, and pay tuition while keeping a roof over my head and a vehicle to get from point A to point B.
As someone who has benefitted deeply as a reward recipient, Kevin expresses a hope that more people will contribute to awards and bursaries that benefit students of all abilities.
“I would challenge prospective donors to look at students more holistically. Instead of solely focusing on academic performance, open up to the idea that those with volunteer experience and work histories can also thrive and would relish the opportunity to continue their education.”