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Tiffany Adigwe is known for overcoming adversity. She is also known for going after her goals.
“Very few people have an easy life, and I guess I am no exception,” Tiffany said. “But I do tend to chart a course and go after what I set out to do.”
Tiffany graduated from Howard University with a degree in biology and chemistry, and knew that she wanted to go on to graduate school. She considered medical school, dental school and law school. Law was always a draw because of the influence of her mother, a mitigation specialist for Maricopa County in Arizona.
“What I learned with a degree in biology is just how much science is shaping the future,” Tiffany said. “I started to think about the importance of ideas and innovation, and the key role that the law plays in making sure those inventions come forward – that they can be used by people and protected.”
With that passion fueling her thought process, she decided to become a patent agent, and she decided law school was the path to achieve that goal.
There were just two problems, and both seemed insurmountable. One, she wanted to start working right away. Two, she didn’t know how she could afford law school.
“I was fresh out of college and surrounded by the incredible feeling of learning about chemistry and biology and its practical application in modern science, and I had a strong desire to get to work sooner rather than later,” Tiffany said. “I began to wish I could get the training I needed to help become a patent agent without having to wait for three years. I also wanted to be able to get the training I needed to pass the patent exam without going deep into debt for a law degree.”
Tiffany, who lived in Maryland, shared her thoughts with her mom in Arizona. Her mom had seen an online ad for a Master of Legal Studies with a Patent Practice Emphasis at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.
“It sounded exactly like what I wanted,” Tiffany said. “I talked with the admissions office, and they were very helpful. They helped me apply for and obtain a scholarship, map out financial assistance, and got me enrolled in less than a week.
"I scanned the country and could not find a program like this. I was more than happy to leave Washington, D.C., and come to Arizona State University for this innovative program that was so tailored to my desire to be a patent agent.”
Students in the Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) program take regular law classes with traditional J.D. students, and Tiffany didn’t know what to expect of the coursework or her J.D. classmates.
“The program is, of course, rigorous,” she said. “I expected that and wanted that. What I have found is that there are great resources to assist me in my studies and excellent instruction from the professors. I have been really grateful for the support of and interaction with the traditional law students as well. That has been very rewarding.
“In my classes I am already working on real-world examples of how to approach patent applications, and drafting strategies. It is both stimulating from an intellectual standpoint and practical from a career point of view.”
Tiffany said she didn’t want to simply study and pass the patent exam. She wanted to be able to practice as a patent agent. What she found is a program that will prepare her for the next phase of her career.
“There were other routes to go if all I wanted to do was study for the patent bar,” she said. “This program at ASU is not only getting me ready for that, but it’s also preparing me for practice, so I can start putting my career in motion after I complete the program. I recommend this program without hesitation. I think a lot of people could benefit from it.”