Bluefield College is preparing its criminal justice (CRJ) students for law school. Just ask CRJ/pre-law student Oliver Keene of Tazewell, Virginia, who just recently won a scholarship to attend the Appalachian School of Law (ASL).
Keene, a rising Bluefield College senior who will graduate in May 2018, competed in a moot court competition at ASL and won a $5,000 scholarship to attend the law school in Grundy, Virginia. It’s something he’s wanted to do since an early age when his grandmother said she wanted him to grow up to be a lawyer. Keene recalls two important moments later in life that convinced him that law was the path God wanted him to take — the first during a trip he took in high school to Los Angeles, California.
“In the trip, I saw the massive difference between the rich and poor, from driving through Beverley Hills one minute and the next seeing dozens of homeless people sleeping in a public park,” said Keene. “That trip made me realize God wanted me to dedicate my life to public service.”
The second moment took place at Bluefield College during a mock trial in Dr. (Kim) Farmer’s “Introduction to Criminal Justice” course. Keene said he not only appreciated the hands-on learning in his criminal justice classes, but also the ways in which Dr. Farmer, professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, encouraged him since the beginning of his college career to pursue his dream.
“She is why I went and toured the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy,” said Keene. Dr. Farmer said she will never forget how impressive Keene was in performing the role of an attorney in her “Introduction to Criminal Justice” mock trial.
“He is so possessed of natural ability and skills, and I knew from the moment he stood up and started addressing our jury that he was destined to go to law school,” said Dr. Farmer. “I am proud of him and his determination as he prepares for the admission test, and I know he will make Bluefield College proud in his future legal career. Winning this ASL event is evidence of his capabilities in the courtroom.”
The Appalachian School of Law moot court scholarship competition required Keene to argue for or against an appeal on a law suit involving a wrongful death and mental anguish. The case relied heavily on case law, so Keene spent about a week in advance researching related cases to build his argument.
“Oliver’s accomplishment of securing a $5,000 scholarship is an excellent outcome,” said Dr. Marshal Flowers, BC’s vice president for academic affairs. “He is an exceptional student studying with magnificent faculty in criminal justice and history.”
Surprised and humbled by winning the ASL scholarship, Keene said he credits the professors in the BC Criminal Justice Department for the ways in which they have prepared him for law school, and for the outcome of the competition and the future ahead of him he said he gives all the glory to God.