UCF Political Science Grad Shares Career Advice

Theresa McDowell

Theresa McDowell, ’03, says her political science degree from UCF gave her a strong foundation for law school and for being an attorney.

Now, as a senior associate attorney at DHN Attorneys law firm in Orlando, she represents many Homeowners Associations and she enjoys helping them build strong communities.

“Being a real estate attorney allows me to assist people during stressful transactions and that is very rewarding,” said McDowell.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in political science from UCF, McDowell went on to earn her juris doctorate from Drake University Law School in Iowa.

From interning as a case screener at Iowa’s civil rights commission to working as an interim loan document specialist, her diverse career path has led her to back to Orlando where she now works.

“Don’t lock yourself into one narrow area of law or career path. The job market is tough, if you broaden your horizons you’ll have more opportunities. After you are working you can always work what you love into your job. Plus, sometimes you never know what you are going to excel at. I always said I’d never be a real estate attorney, and here I am,” advised McDowell.

McDowell shared some more about her time at UCF, life after graduation, and some additional advice.

Why did you choose to attend UCF?

I attended Daytona State College so UCF was a natural progression in my education. Furthermore, I was engaged, already had a job, ties to the community, and family here. UCF was able to provide a world class education while being close to home.

How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?

The university’s strong alumni base has always been helpful and encouraging. In addition, former professors at UCF taught me to analyze issues with an open mind and how to clearly articulate my thoughts in my writing.

Were you involved in any extracurricular activities at UCF?

I was not, and when I look back, I regret that. I got engaged and married while in college and I didn’t necessarily make time for college activities.

What is your best UCF memory?

One semester I got the highest grade on a test in an international law class, which was very exciting! That class in particular inspired me to go to law school, and when I did well in that class I realized that I could succeed in law school too.

What is your most memorable experience on the job?

The first time I had to object to something, I did it very timidly. I’m sure it was barely a whisper of an objection. It’s something you see done on T.V., but it’s hard to get that first one out.

Do you have any additional advice to give current students as well as UCF alumni?

Despite the tough job market, don’t be afraid to leave something that makes you miserable or that you think is unethical. Life is too short.

Now for some fun facts about McDowell.

Do you have any special/hidden talents?

I’m a heck of a roller skater, spins, jumps, twirls, the whole thing.

What do you do for fun?

Does watching hours of Law and Order count? I also really love taking cruises.

What is your favorite holiday (and why)?

Easter, it combines my love of Jesus and chocolate.

What is your earliest memory?

My parents took us on a train in New York to go see the circus, and we got these fancy red and blue flashlights that spun around.

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