Advocate: Law student is passionate about disability rights

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Law student Elizabeth Dierker, who has volunteered at a humane society, is pictured with her cat, Pepper.
(Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Dierker)


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Law student Elizabeth Dierker earned her undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences from Oakland University.

“Science was always one of my strongest subjects, and I was most fascinated by life science and learning what makes living things able to thrive,” she says.” I never intended to continue into biomedical science as a career, but saw it as a sufficiently challenging stepping-stone into multiple career paths that interested me.”

Now a 1L student at Detroit Mercy Law, Dierker says that after the events of the 2020 pandemic, the law seemed to fall into place as her best career path.

“It drew me to want to know more about the power of government and decision-making at the federal level,” she says.

Dierker is enjoying her experience at Detroit Mercy Law—her father’s alma mater—where she is a Dean’s Fellow.

“I’m most pleased with the alumni-student mentorship opportunity,” she says. “My mentor was also a Dean’s Fellow and a graduate in 2020. It’s really nice to be connected with someone who so recently experienced the same things I did and get pertinent advice and support.

“I really appreciate the faculty’s willingness to reach out and help students,” she adds. “It’s also a beautiful campus with a lot of history within and right on its doorstep.”

Dierker is particularly interested in disability rights and public health.

“I was spurred on by the pandemic to wish to be able to somehow use my knowledge of biomedical science to effectively let people around me know the gravity of the situation, and to also be a real-life voice that could interpret often-misleading information in the news cycle,” she says.

“It’s especially important for me, as a disabled person, that people take public health seriously; it directly impacts the livelihood and health of myself and my community. If I can have even a minute part in improving the lives of disabled folks with my knowledge, I will do so.”

The daughter of attorneys Julia Church Dierker and Joseph B. Dierker Jr. from the Intellectual Property Law firm Dierker and Kavanaugh in Troy, Dierker became a registered patent agent this year, and notes that passing the registration exam was a difficult task.

“Since I’m so new, I have a lot to learn but am intrigued by the idea of helping those on the forefront of innovation protect their rights,” she says. “Patent prosecution is high on my list of career options, but I’ve not set that in stone because I want to learn more about what the legal field has to offer.”

Unlike many students, Dierker relished remote studies.

“I believe it opens up the door of higher education to many who would not be able to get it otherwise due to travel constraints such as those with families or chronically ill or disabled people like myself,” she says.

A lifelong resident of Troy, Dierker enjoys spending time in the Motor City area.

“I love how Detroit has a small-town feel but with a lot of the entertainment and culture of a big city,” she says. “People are very friendly here, and when I travel it’s something I always miss about home.”

In her leisure time, Dierker has a passion for art and loves to draw and paint.

“My favorite medium is oil pastel but I’ve been dabbling in digital art as of late,” she says. “I also took voice lessons in high school and try to find opportunities to sing in choirs or groups whenever I can.”

She and her fiancé have two black-and-white two-year-old cats named Itchy and Pepper; and Dierker also shared her love of animals by volunteering for the past few years at the Humane Society, doing small/exotic animal enrichment—socializing cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and rats, and helping in cleaning and feeding when the need arose.

“The Humane Society is such a wonderful place to volunteer,” she says.

“The staff are some of the most compassionate people I’ve met in my life, and it’s so rewarding to care for the animals and see them thrive and finally move on to new homes. I hope to be able to get back into my volunteering role more as time goes on, but law school is pretty all-consuming.”

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