Law student shares wisdom with students
December 8, 2011
By Sebastian Moraga
The trick worked every time. Students either gasped or needed a ladder to bring their eyebrows back down.
“How long was your last test?” third-year law student and Mount Si High School alum John Varga asked the eighth-graders in Janice Wintermyer’s class at Snoqualmie Middle School.
Without fail, a student would say 30 minutes, or 20 minutes or 40 minutes.
“Well,” Varga replied, “The bar exam is two and a half days long.”
Besides shocking students out of ever wanting to be attorneys, Varga shared some of the ups and downs of a career that took him from the United States Army Reserve to a bachelor’s degree to law school.
And next year, to the shocking bar exam.
“Two and a half days long?” a student asked. “You mean, 60 hours?”
After explaining that the exam was not two and a half full days, Varga talked about some of the teenagers he has met this semester while working at the juvenile detention center in Seattle.
He told them about the consequences of teenage misbehavior, from stints in jail to hard-to-erase records. He advised students not to live off just their talents but to work hard.
“If you’re smart and you don’t have good work habits,” he said, “you will struggle a little bit.”
He talked honestly about some of his past decisions, like his major in college.
“My degree in college was in Southeast Asian studies,” he said. “Employers weren’t knocking down my door to hire me.”
He mixed stern warnings with gentle ribbing, like when student Max Puff asked him for his card.
“You plannin’ to get in trouble?” Varga asked.
Puff shook his head, but got in “trouble” anyway. When talk turned to the latest book Wintermyer made the students read, Varga asked “Did anybody read it?”
The class responded “Yeah!”
“Did anybody not read it,” Varga asked.
“Max!” a student peeped.
Varga, who earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington, fielded questions about whether he liked the result of this year’s Apple Cup, whether he had ever been on “Judge Judy,” and whether he realized he looked just like eighth-grader Dante Angerame.
“Really?” Varga said, turning to Angerame. “You know, Dante, you’re a good-looking guy.”
The temperature never rose above the 30s that day in Snoqualmie, but when Varga took a break and stepped outside, he was not the least bit cold.
“That was difficult,” he said, after talking to three classes. “I like to think of myself as a humble guy and I don’t like to talk about myself, and it’s always hard to overcome that. I hope I was interesting.”
It was interesting, he said, to see Wintermyer, a former classmate at Mount Si High School, turned into a full-fledged teacher, commanding the attention of an entire room.
“It was pretty neat,” he said. “I feel like the last 10 years have been a blur.”
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or email@example.com.