Living on a whim while preparing for law school

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“You can do just about anything as long as you’re willing to put in the hours.”

This mantra has allowed James Wise (political science and philosophy, ’16) to juggle classes, leadership roles, and extra curricular activities at Iowa State. In addition to these on-campus activities, Wise is also a student supervisor for Iowa State’s Outdoor Recreation Program.

The Outdoor Recreation Program gives Wise the adventurous opportunity to guide nature trips that take his group camping on the beaches of Florida to hiking in the mountains of Utah. In his position, flexibility and positivity are key.

“When we’re in the backcountry with a group of participants, a storm, injury, or other unforeseen event could change the entire plan and feel of the trip. Being able to adapt to things like this is the biggest part of the job,” Wise said. “Anyone can re-organize a trip after an unexpected event, but doing it in a way that everyone still has a positive experience is something much different, and as I have learned, much more difficult.”

Learning these skills of leading positively and working hard benefits Wise in his studies, too. Wise knew he wanted to pursue a law degree when he enrolled at Iowa State. Though he knows that hard work is a must, he also believes that students should “live on a whim.” With this mantra, Wise is able to make the most of his college experience by not letting day-to-day stresses get to him. It helps him see the big picture and not get caught up in the little things

“No one knows when all the cool things in the world will happen and when,” Wise said. He said being able to be flexible and present is an important factor to not missing out. Wise encourages students to not get bogged down with anything trivial.

Wise’s professors have had a significant impact on his academic experience. His introductory philosophy class, taught by Margaret Holmgren, sparked his interest to add philosophy as a second major. And although academics mostly come naturally for Wise, his judiciary class was “the hardest class I have ever been in.” The learning experience was so great, however, that he’d willingly take the class again.

Between juggling academics, being involved in the Bridging Opportunities in Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) learning community, and working on campus, Wise has learned that time is valuable. He has grown in his ability to meet deadlines and is still making time management one of his priorities.

“To some extent, the way I like to live isn’t the most conducive to schoolwork,” Wise said. “But I realize what needs to be done and I do it.”