Drew Lehmkuhl’s 8 Year Journey to Law School
“It’s not about what brought me here, it’s about what kept me here,” said triple Bearcat Drew Lehmkuhl about his decision to pursue three separate degrees at the same university.
Lehmkuhl, who will be a 1L this fall, is entering his eighth year at the University of Cincinnati. He earned his undergraduate degree in neuroscience, and recently completed his master’s degree in experimental psychology, defending his thesis at the end of June.
Growing up in Northern Kentucky as the son of a University of Cincinnati graduate, Lehmkuhl was always a huge fan of UC sports. Even so, attending UC was not the original plan. Set to start school at the University of Louisville, he changed his mind at the last second.
“I took a leap of faith,” he stated, recalling his last-minute decision to attend a school where he wouldn’t know anyone. After leaping, however, he landed on his own two feet
Lehmkuhl knew that he had made the right decision when he realized that what Cincinnati boasts about is true: a big school, but a tight-knit community. After becoming involved on-campus, particularly in the “unbelievable research” and interdisciplinary collaboration that was available as an undergraduate student, he felt right at home.
Four years simply was not enough time, and Lehmkuhl found himself wanting to continue on in the science field and to become more involved in research. He credits the university with focusing on practical skills to complement textbook learning, a balance that assured him UC was the right place for his graduate education.
Although the setting was the same, there were major differences between Lehmkuhl’s undergraduate and graduate education. Many of his peers had not attended the university for undergraduate, and he described showing them around campus as “being with a bunch of older freshmen.” A thirst for learning was more obvious in these “freshmen” than many of those with whom Lehmkuhl had entered UC, however.
Many undergraduate students, particularly in the beginning of their higher education careers, are more focused on passing a general education class or earning a specific grade on an exam than truly learning and absorbing the information presented to them. In graduate school, Lehmkuhl noticed, mindsets shifted towards truly learning materials in order to later apply them to practice. “It was awesome having a close group of driven students around me who are very passionate about what they do in their fields,” he said.
As a graduate student, Lehmkuhl was able to take a more involved role in research, and work more closely with faculty members. Between his undergraduate and graduate degrees, he has been able to work in many areas, including psychology, biology, and neurology, and worked at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the area of human genetics.
Even with a positive atmosphere and attitude, eight years of continuous schooling, with three more to go, can seem daunting. But not to Lemkuhl.
Since he has had the past year and a half off of classes, working 40 hours a week on intensive research programs, Lemkuhl is ready to be a student again. “When you’re working, it doesn’t feel like school,” he said. “I think this break time, though, has served a purpose. I love being in the classroom and can’t wait to get back.”
In addition to his work, Lemkuhl has taught classes the past six semesters, most recently research methods and statistics in behavioral sciences. Whether it was seeing concepts click into place, or the journey from glassy-eyed at the start to engaged and excited at the end, he enjoyed his stint as a teacher, and would absolutely do it again in the future.
For law school, Lehmkuhl’s area of interest lies in intellectual property. This stems from his experiences at UC, where he worked with individuals who inspired and amazed him each day.
“I want to continue working with brilliant people,” Lehmkuhl asserted. “I want to be a facilitator, a legal advocate, for these brilliant people who are doing work like this, who have brilliant ideas. And I want to protect those ideas.”
Author: Michelle Flanagan, ‘18, Communication Intern