GTCC alumna graduates from paralegal program, attends law school to help others

Published on: December 7, 2023
Alyssa Harris headshot.
Alyssa Harris graduated from GTCC's paralegal program and is now in law school studying for the bar exam.

When Alyssa Harris decided she was going to go back to school at Guilford Technical Community College, she wasn’t completely set on a program. She was considering a pharmaceutical program since her first career was in pharmacy, but after learning about GTCC’s paralegal program online, she knew that was the field for her.

Harris always had an interest in law, starting when she was a kid and would watch shows like “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Cops.” Eventually, she would pursue her passion, with the journey beginning at GTCC.

Harris enrolled in the paralegal program in 2018 and graduated in 2020 with an associate degree in paralegal technology. She then transferred to UNC Pembroke before getting into Elon University’s law school, where she will graduate in December 2023.

“I love the instructors at GTCC. They were all very kind and encouraged me to continue with law school after I graduated,” said Harris. “Professor [Pam] Hollern was especially impactful. She was a strong female leader for me.”

Like Hollern, Harris was married and raising her children while enrolled in school. Seeing her instructor have similar responsibilities outside of school helped Harris see the possibilities in her own future.

“Not a lot of students are married and have kids, and I just started talking to her about going to law school, and she really encouraged me to do that,” said Harris, explaining why Hollern was such a role model for her. “I mean, she just helped me out any way she could.”

An instructor in the paralegal program sine 2012, and director of the program since 2018, Hollern remembers having Harris in her classes.

“Alyssa was a one-of-a-kind student in terms of not only the quality of her work, the attention to detail and her overall work ethic, but also what she taught her peers. She made all of the students around her better,” said Hollern.

“[Law school] was something we discussed, and I saw a spark in her. I knew she had the ability to do it. In those discussions, I told her that without a shadow of a doubt, she could do it,” said Hollern. “And she’s well on her way to doing that now. I know she’ll make a lasting impact on the legal community.”

Starting her law career at GTCC proved to be invaluable for Harris.

“After going through the paralegal program and going to law school, I was so well prepared. I didn’t learn any new concepts [in law school], I just built on what I already knew [from the paralegal program],” said Harris.

“I thought it was especially helpful, and I’m so glad I did that first. I even told people to do that first if they were considering law school. I didn’t have to start from scratch. And that put me so far ahead of everybody else in my class.”

Harris will sit for the North Carolina Bar exam in February of 2024.

After she passes the Bar, Harris plans to continue working at the law firm she has been working for since she was at GTCC. She is interested in family law and will handle child support cases, divorce hearings, and other similar cases.

“I knew that when I wanted to go to law school, I wanted to help people,” said Harris, explaining why she has a particular interest in family law. “I wanted to do criminal defense initially, but I realized that anyone who goes to court for a criminal offense is basically required to have a lawyer.”

“However, if you go to court for child custody or child support, then you have to figure it out on your own, and it can be very costly. I wanted to make sure that I give back, so I plan to do some pro-bono and low-bono work.”

GTCC’s paralegal program set Harris up for success, and as a lawyer in Greensboro, Harris will be able to give back to the community with her new career. Back to All Articles