CTK Alumna Keeps Her Sights Set on Legal Career

One of Adrian Bailey’s favorite childhood memories is of spending time with her grandmother watching “judge” TV shows like Judge Mathis and People’s Court. She would even dress up as a judge for some early Career Day and Halloween events. Those experiences served as the initial spark for Adrian to pursue a career as a lawyer, and a loftier goal of donning the judge’s robe for real, and not just dressing up like one. Her law aspirations have continued today into her junior year at Loyola University – Chicago, as a Criminal Justice & Criminology major. 

The onset of COVID coincided with the last semester of Adrian’s senior year at CTK, and not only impacted the end of her CTK experience but also influenced her college decision. Loyola offered her a chance to stay close to home combined with a strong pre-law program. She was already leaning towards Loyola, but a surprise call letting her know she had been awarded a full-ride, 4-year Cristo Rey Network Scholarship, sealed the decision for her and her grateful family. “I didn’t believe it at first. I was extremely excited! I was definitely going to Loyola.” Adrian became the first in her family to attend college. In addition to the scholarship’s financial support, the Cristo Rey scholars also form a cohort group of Cristo Rey school alums with similar backgrounds offering academic and social support, as well as service event opportunities. This year, Adrian has taken on a leadership role serving on the executive board for the CRN group, which also includes fellow CTK graduates, Alexis Avalos ’20, and Kamille Minor ’21.  

In part due to the large number of credit requirements of her major, Adrian has been taking Criminal Justice classes since her freshman year. She enjoys the subject matter and in particular the class discussions and role playing associated with specific cases. While at CTK, Adrian got some valuable exposure to the legal world through her participation on the Mock Trial team. It offered her an opportunity to try out different courtroom roles, including garnering a perfect score as a witness, a first for a CTK student. But her favorite role was that of a defense lawyer. “I recognized this was something I was interested in and wanted to do. I really liked it, applied myself, and was good at it.” As part of her final year at Loyola, she is pursuing an internship with a law firm to gain more legal experience and knowledge. She also plans to begin studying for the LSAT exam, in hopes of going to law school after graduating from Loyola in Spring 2024.

“My CTK experience definitely prepared me for life after high school, especially CWSP, which gave me four years of work experience at an actual job.” Adrian worked for all 4 years at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Her assignment as a “roving intern” enabled her to work in various departments and roles, providing a wide range of experiences and a chance to build connections. Initially reserved, she was pushed out of her comfort zone early on by being asked to share a presentation on herself in front of the McCormick Foundation staff. She credits that experience with boosting her public speaking skills, eventually being selected by her CTK classmates to deliver a speech at their graduation. Although her college coursework has been challenging, she praised her CTK teachers for preparing her by covering material, so that she learned and retained it. “CTK had great teachers, like Mr. Bajner, who really connected with students, treating us like adults. They had high expectations for us, and pushed us to reach what we were capable of. It definitely has helped me in college.”

A self-described “loner” during her first year at CTK, with the help of CTK’s staff, Adrian opened up in the classroom and through her involvement in diverse range of clubs including Mock Trial, National Honor Society, Mathlete team, Student Leadership Committee, and Cheerleading. She also enjoyed participating in service projects. Her most memorable service experiences were the weeklong Appalachian Service Project (ASP) summer trips after her sophomore and junior year. In her words, “We stayed in the middle of nowhere, with no cell service. They woke us up at 7AM, and we worked all day in groups of 7 or 8 helping to repair and build homes. We got to know and grew close to both the people we worked with and the people we were helping. They were grateful for our help, and we saw the impact of our service. I enjoyed it so much, that I got my friend to go with me the 2nd year.”

Her advice to current CTK students, “College isn’t easy, but you need to push through with your education. Keep your mind strong. Stay motivated to get where you want to go. Don’t give up on dreams and make achieving your long-term goals your priority.” Adrian vows to keep pushing herself to achieve her goals, and to make her family, especially her grandmother, proud. She is drawn to criminal defense law, acknowledging that it is challenging, but seeing a need for knowledgeable defense lawyers who can provide strong support for their clients, especially those who lack the resources to defend themselves effectively. They would be lucky to have someone like Adrian on their side.