Detroit student brings business background to her legal studies

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Law student Tina Toma earned a BBA and MBA from Wayne State University, interning at Mahle in Troy, where she was hired full time after graduation. She completed her MBA during her five years at Mahle—an international development partner and supplier to the automotive industry—where she worked as a procurement professional negotiating with global vendors.

“I never expected my college internship to develop into a nearly five-year career after graduation,” she says. “I am so fortunate for my work experience, and Mahle’s management team that always pushed me to the next level. Although I was thrilled to start law school, it was difficult to leave Mahle. I feel I grew up there in a way.

“Every industry in the world understands the language of business,” she adds. “I chose to pursue a graduate degree in business because business is a fundamental concept, and opens a world of opportunities for you.”
Her reasons for attending Detroit Mercy Law School are similar to the reasons she chose to study business.

“Law is also a universal language understood worldwide. There are endless avenues and opportunities, and I will have the flexibility to use both my JD, MBA in many industries and projects,” she says. “I have a passion for communication, relationship building, and negotiating; a law degree will complement these passions and bring me to the next step.”

Toma currently is in her 1L year at Detroit Mercy Law, where she is a Dean’s Fellow.

“I feel so fortunate and grateful,” she says. “It took years of studying and hard work to get to this point. Detroit Mercy has made the Dean’s Fellow experience very special. I want to make the Detroit Mercy community proud of their decision to endow me with this scholarship.”

She also notes that she has a new appreciation for in-person education, after previous students had to study via remote classes during the pandemic.

“I’m fortunate to have all my classes in person,” she says. “Zoom has become a more accepted form of communication—it makes life easier, but I prefer to have my classes in person. Students and professors alike share a sense of gratitude to conduct classes in person. I feel so fortunate to be at school—I appreciate being able to build rapport with my classmates and professors. Speaking of the professors, they are incredible—they care so much about their students. The camaraderie at this school is heartwarming.

“Also, Detroit Mercy is in the heart of Detroit, very close to the courthouses. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to visit the courthouses, but I sure hope that’s in my near future!”

Toma says she has a responsibility to make many people proud who have supported her thus far—her family (specifically her parents), friends, and the Detroit Mercy Law community.

“Not entirely sure what I’ll be doing in the future—exciting things, I hope, but I know my career goal is to give back to the people and communities that have raised me,” she says. “I want to be successful in my career and be a mentor and advisor for other students embarking on a similar path.”

With her previous work experience in the business field, Toma is interested in the business/corporate side of law, but is open to other areas as her studies progress.

“Ultimately, I’m open-minded, and I don’t want an opportunity to pass me,” she says.

The first-generation in the U.S. of her Chaldean parents, Toma and Lamaan, Toma is the first in her family to graduate with a college degree.

“I’m so proud of my nationality. Chaldeans have been in the States for a few decades now, and it’s incredible to watch our Chaldean first generation pursue higher education. My parents did not have higher education opportunities, they spent their 20s living through a war,” she says.

“My parents have provided all their love and support during my college education. However, it wasn’t easy at times not to have college-educated parents to help the process. I had to learn things alone, which was sometimes challenging. I share this information with other students as much as possible – it’s challenging to be a first-generation student. This is a cause I care about, and I believe there needs to be a unique program for this.

One of three sisters, Toma also has a brother, who is interested in attending Detroit Mercy Law.

“I hope he will join me in the next year or two,” she says. “He’s stressing for the LSAT. I sure don’t miss those days.”

Bitten by the travel bug, Toma traveled all around Europe over the last few years before the pandemic put the kibosh to that passion. She also enjoys shopping, and spending time with family and friends.

“I do have the best support system a girl could ask for,” she says.

She also likes to give back to her community as much as possible.

“Specifically, I offer to be a mentor and discuss career avenues with undecided students,” she says. “There is so much pressure entering college, and I take pride in helping take that pressure off new students.”

Born in Detroit, Toma currently lives in Shelby Township in Macomb County, and is a big fan of the Motor City.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Detroit,” she says. “Witnessing the growth in the city over the last six years has been incredible. From undergrad to grad school and now law school, I’ve seen a remarkable turnaround. So cool this turnaround happened in my generation, because my friends and I have spent the last years exploring the city, trying new restaurants, and having a great time.”



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