Back in the courtroom after almost a year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Callie Hyde (‘12) said she is thrilled that jury trials are being held once again in the District of Columbia. That’s where she currently is a clerk for Judge Robert Okun in the D.C. Superior Court, who will be presiding over the second jury trial in the District in over a year this month.
“It’s exciting to be back in the courtroom,” she said. “[The last year] has been an adventure, to say the least.”
After graduating from Vanguard, Hyde attended Baylor University, where she majored in Political Science and minored in German and Religion as a member of their Honors program. While studying in Baylor’s Political Science Department, Hyde realized that she wanted to go to law school and began applying during her junior year.
“While at Baylor, I realized I loved reading, writing and working with all different kinds of people,” Hyde said. “Law school seemed a logical next step, as it often does to people who love school and don’t know what to do next.”
After graduating from Baylor, Hyde went straight through to Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. While at Georgetown, she served as a student attorney in Georgetown’s Domestic Violence Clinic, a managing editor on Georgetown’s Immigration Law Journal and earned a graduate certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies.
“I realized what a profound impact lawyers can have on the lives of people who do not have the ability to advocate for themselves,” Hyde said. “While interning with the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C., I realized I wanted to spend my life working on behalf of survivors of violent crime.”
Hyde then pursued other opportunities in the field, like
internships with DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and the nonprofit Amara Legal Center, where her resolve only deepened.
“By the time I was actually advocating on behalf of clients as a student attorney in Georgetown’s Domestic Violence Clinic,” she said, “I was absolutely sure that I would pursue a career in criminal law post-grad.”
After graduating from Georgetown, Hyde entered her current position: a two-year clerkship with the Honorable Robert Okun in the D.C. Superior Court.
“I love learning the intricacies of criminal law from Judge Okun,” Hyde said. “Drafting orders and sentencing memoranda for him constantly brings to mind the weight the legal system has over those involved. I am constantly reminded of how important it is for lawyers working in criminal law to enter the courtroom with an awareness that the conversations and arguments made before the judge leave behind a significant impact on people’s lives – for better or worse. It’s heavy, but meaningful – and never boring.”
When she was at Vanguard, Hyde said she is not sure she had any idea who she would be when she grew up.
“I thought a lot about being a teacher or maybe working in publishing,” she said. “I was in Latin Club, Chemistry Club, NHS, Mu Alpha Theta and Liquid Paper. I did stints working on the yearbook and Vanguard Review. I led the Peers Program my senior year. I was bouncing around all over the place trying to find a place to fit. Ironically, I never did Debate or Mock Trial. Regardless, being a lawyer was at the end of the list.”
But Vanguard teachers taught her to study well, put in the work and reach out for help when she needed it, Hyde said.
“I spent long hours in tutorials with both Mrs. Johns and Mrs. Leslie, pouring over math and science textbooks that felt completely out of my league,” she said. “I learned that if I put in the work, the hard-fought results would eventually come.”
Among Hyde’s favorite teachers were Mrs. Ferreter, whom she said taught her to write and fostered her love of reading. Mrs. Johns, Hyde said, showed her she can do anything she puts her mind to if she just put in the hours — even AP Calculus.
“Mrs. Johns allowed me to stay in tutorials for longer than normal after AP Calculus,” she said. “She worked with me and never allowed me to say anything negative about myself. When I got a 4 on the AP Calculus exam, she was the first person I told, after my mom.”
Mrs. Leslie, she said, taught her that she should never underestimate herself.
“I had a ton of trouble with biology in the ninth grade, and on test weeks I would go to Mrs. Leslie’s classroom during fifth mod to to score an extra tutorial,” Hyde said. “I never realized, because it’s hard to believe teachers are people, too, when you’re 14, that it was not only my lunch hour, but also her lunch hour that I was taking up. She would sit with me and work me through mitosis over and over, never complaining and never making me feel stupid. It was just the most generous thing. I still remember her generosity and kindness now, nearly ten years out of high school.
Hyde said she also loved Flip Alexander in the administration for always having a kind word when I stopped by Jaworski.
Getting involved is one of the best ways to make the most of the Vanguard experience, Hyde said.
“Try everything,” she said. “If you’re interested in something, see if you can find a local internship in the field and test it out for yourself. Seek out mentors – whether those mentors are your teachers, people in the community or church, or even older students you admire.”
And remembering not to be too hard on yourself will get you through the difficult times.
“It’s easy to compare yourself to everyone else at a school like Vanguard, where everyone around you is incredibly gifted,” Hyde said. “At the end of the day, though, you wouldn’t be at Vanguard if you weren’t smart. Do your best, allow yourself the space to make mistakes, and be curious.
When I was at Vanguard, I never would’ve thought that I’d be a lawyer.
“I honestly would’ve laughed at you if you had told me I’d go to law school,” she said. “And yet, here I am. Be open to all the possibilities that the future has to offer. You never know where you’ll end up.”
Hyde said she feels fortunate to have made solid friendships during her high school years.
“So many of the friends I made at Vanguard are still my friends now,” she said. “Being a teenager is tough. But I’m thankful to have left Vanguard with the skills to do well in the career I chose and friends who I still talk to today.
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