Samantha Doyle

Hometown: La Conner, Washington

Undergraduate: Huxley College

VLS Program: JD/MERL

VLS Involvement: Immigration Justice Project, South Royalton Legal Clinic

Career Goals: To work on environmental justice issues in Washington State, both with immigrant groups and Northwest Tribes

I grew up in La Conner, Wa. A small coastal Washington community about the size of South Royalton. Originally known for its tulip festival and offbeat artist community, it has become a rather popular tourist location in the spring and summer. Separated by a small channel, I lived on the Swinomish Reservation, where my parents still live today. We are not tribal members, but this is not uncommon for some reservations. My connection to this community and the coast has been a driving force in my study of environmental and tribal law.

I did not take a direct path to law school. I worked in service and was a hair stylist for nearly a decade, before putting myself through an environmental studies program at Western Washington University. I got into Huxley College (Western's environmental school) and graduated in 2014 with a Geography focus. My courses at Huxley showed me the necessity of protecting our environmental systems and how our uses of these environmental services (water, soil, forestry) are all interconnected. I would spend my time at the salon sharing all this with my clientele, who often shared my passion for the Northwest.

It was the enormous support I received from my employer, coworkers, clients and family that gave me the confidence to apply to law school. Specifically, two attorney clients who also became close friends of mine. These women have been great mentors and advocates for me!

Here at VLS, I am a joint JD/MERL student. I have had the great fortune of working in both the Energy Clinic over the summer and am now working at the South Royalton Legal Clinic on the Immigration Justice Project where I am working on an asylum claim, among other cases. This work is incredibly inspiring and after law school I hope to work on environmental justice issues in Washington State, both with immigrant groups and Northwest Tribes.