Cierra Newman '11 isn't interested in complaining. She's more intent on fighting for change.
"It's so easy to sit back and find flaws," the 25-year-old said. "It takes another kind of person to change them." Cierra remembers her mother dividing people into those who watch and those who do. "I'm tired of being a watcher...I need to be that change."
Currently working at Merrill Lynch in Charlotte under the Global Wealth Management umbrella, Cierra graduated from the McColl School of Business with a Bachelor's in Business Administration.
Next up is law school. She's just interviewed at Northwestern University Law (ranked 10th in the nation). Her long-term goal is to become a military lawyer (aka Judge Advocate General) to help address some of the systemic problems she's observed as a military wife.
Before attending Queens, Cierra traversed the country as her husband pursued his military career. She continued to work on her undergraduate degree, transferring often, while observing firsthand the challenges faced by soldiers and their families. For instance, in returning to civilian life after a deployment, National Guard members receive just one week of debriefing whereas other areas of the military receive up to three months that also include a mental health assessment. For Guard members, issues like post-traumatic stress disorder can fall between the cracks.
Becoming a JAG will give her an opportunity to make a difference. "They are the individuals who really have the greatest vantage point," she said.
Queens made a difference for Cierra.
"Critical thinking is the main thing because, especially working in the line of business I am in now, I use a lot of analytical reasoning"
- Cierra Newman '11
Cierra had researched many regional schools before transferring in as a student in the Hayworth School for Graduate and Continuing Students. She said one phone call "sealed the deal." When she called to ask for information about transferring her credits, she found herself talking directly with Dr. Steven Cox. The one-on-one attention he gave her, just over the phone in that preliminary call, made all the difference. "I really found home at Queens, and they provided a ton of great opportunities."
Opportunities she seized with enthusiasm. McColl School Professor Cathy Anderson noted, "Cierra is a force--energetic, open with others, quick with humor. She's also as quick to ask questions as she is to give opinions...It is the ability to ask and answer that will help make her a good lawyer."
Anderson also noted Cierra's determination: "She has a drive to address wrongs." A lawyer herself, Anderson added "Being a lawyer doesn't automatically guarantee that you'll be able to save the world--or even a small part of it. But I've learned from watching Cierra that it would be best not to bet against her!"
People have bet against Cierra in the past. Growing up in a small town in Iowa, she told her sixth grade teacher she wanted to be a judge. She was told it was unlikely as there had been no African American judges in Iowa.
Cierra says she stills sees Iowa as home and admits she'll likely want to make a difference there after she gets her law degree.