At age two, Sarin Wakimian was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Since the age of eight, she has been in a wheelchair, and was homeschooled throughout high school. A college course sparked her passion for political science, and inspired her to pursue a Master’s degree.
“I attended Fresno State University for undergrad. It was stressful for me being wheelchair-bound. Sometimes I would show up to class and my accommodated desk wouldn’t be in the classroom, or I would have to wait for someone to press the elevator buttons for me if my classes were upstairs. I knew I wanted more than just a Bachelor’s, and that if I were to go back to school it had to be online.”
A Law Career Outside the Courtroom
Pepperdine Caruso School of Law’s online Master in Legal Studies program was ideal for Sarin, who has a passion for reading, writing, and learning about law but doesn’t see herself being an attorney or spending her career in a courtroom.
“I really want to bridge my passion for the law with the non-profit sector. I’ve been volunteering for years now with the Red Cross, Make-a-Wish Foundation, and other non-profits. I think that’s where I want to end up.”
A Childhood Dream Come True
Sarin started the MLS program in Fall 2019. While she attended the residency on campus last year, her second residency in 2020 was online because of COVID-19. However, she is just as enthusiastic about both experiences.
“The online residency was still so good. The mock trials and everything were so exciting. The one on campus was just amazing. My mom went with me to help push my wheelchair, and we were sitting there before class started, and we just looked at each other and couldn’t believe it. When I was a little girl we lived in L.A., and every time we would visit Malibu and pass by Pepperdine, I just knew that’s where I was going to go.”
Drawing on Her Cultural Background
Sarin’s family background and interest in mediation contributed to her favorite class so far: Cross-Cultural Conflict and Dispute Resolution.
“I loved that class because having a Lebanese/Armenian background brings me an awareness of different cultures and learning how, for example, America might think of and communicate things in a certain way whereas France might do it completely different. It was really interesting and the professors were great. They put a lot of things into perspective. I still have one of the professor’s words in my head. He said, ‘Just listen to people. Listen to what you feel, listen to what you hear, everything. Just take your time and listen and then communicate.’ So I take that with me wherever I go.”