Hillary Hellmann (BA '12, JD '15)

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Before Hillary Hellmann left St. Louis and arrived as a freshman at The University of Tulsa in the fall of 2008 to study international affairs, computer science, political science, and Spanish, she already had made one big decision about her future: She wanted to pursue a career in the public sector and work for the federal government.

Her plans were motivated in large part by the television images that she saw on September 11, 2001, when she was just 11 years old. After watching how New York City’s first responders and, later, the country’s military served her country after the attacks on the World Trade Center, Hillary came to realize that she wanted “to be part of something bigger than myself.”

But she never really imagined that she would land in the important job that she now holds—one that she earned through hard work and the education that she received at The University of Tulsa and its College of Law. Today, Hillary is a litigation attorney in the Office of General Counsel at the United States National Security Agency, where she advocates on behalf of the agency in criminal, civil, and international matters in federal courts.

Her first exposure to the public sector came in the summer after her junior year at TU. Over the course of three months, she worked as an intern for the Tulsa Police Department and at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s local office. She conducted research, learned how to collect electronic evidence for criminal investigations, reviewed policies and procedures on how to obtain and analyze digital evidence, and helped identify online sexual predators.

After graduating from TU in May 2012 with a 4.0 GPA, the National Science Foundation awarded Hillary with a prestigious scholarship through its CyberCorps Program, which allowed her to conduct research on international legal and policy trends and to provide briefings to senior policymakers about her analyses and findings.

Hillary delivering the valedictorian speech at the Hooding Ceremony in May 2015

Hillary delivering the valedictorian speech at the Hooding Ceremony in May 2015

By then, Hillary knew that her career in the public sector was headed in the direction of national security affairs. The only question for her was whether to pursue a PhD or a law degree. After speaking with the director of TU’s Cyber Corps program, they agreed that law school would enable her to learn a new set of skills that would serve her—and the country—well in her future.

Hillary knew that TU’s administrators and faculty had played a key role in opening the doors that led to her high-level internships, and she had a strong support system already in place there. Hillary also knew that TU Law extends that tradition by providing its law students with many opportunities for externships, clerkships, and other experiential learning programs that help graduates stand out when they begin their legal careers.

So, attending TU College of Law was an easy decision for Hillary, especially after the College offered her a full tuition scholarship.

“The day I stepped onto the TU campus, I loved it,” Hillary says. “I’m truly grateful for all of the enormous support that I received from my academic advisers at TU Law and the generous people who made my legal education so affordable.”

For Hillary, “The best aspect of attending TU Law was the challenging and rigorous curriculum that it offers. Because the classes are small, I also was fortunate to have opportunities that many law schools cannot provide, especially the chance to learn from and connect with outstanding faculty members who really cared about me as a person, as well as my future.”

During her three years at TU Law, Hillary continued to benefit from the College’s experiential learning programs and the proactive support from deans and faculty members. By the time she graduated with her JD in May 2015, Hillary had earned externships in the US Attorney’s Office, the Department of Justice, the Tulsa County District Court, the US District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, and the Central Intelligence Agency.

At the NSA, Hillary is deeply involved in an array of legal and national security matters and works with “very smart and highly dedicated public servants” in the US Departments of Defense, State, and Justice, and the CIA.

“I feel very fortunate to have received my JD. from TU Law,” Hillary explains. “Without the skills I learned there, the experiential learning opportunities that the College offered, and the enormous help that so many people gave to me, I would not be where I am today. I can say, with great pride, that TU Law made it possible for me to be a part of something much bigger than just myself.”