Grow as you go: Bethany Hardwig expresses gratitude for MLS program

Sep 15, 2023 | Alumni

by Lindsay Wilcox

Bethany Hardwig, a curvy black woman wearing a yellow dress, stands on the steps opposite the University of Utah football stadiumBethany Hardwig was working in the University of Utah’s University Advancement office and began looking into graduate programs. A webinar about the Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program piqued her interest, and she later decided an MLS degree was exactly what she was looking for.

“I never wanted to be a courtroom lawyer, simply to be even more qualified to do the jobs I was interested in,” Hardwig recalls. “The MLS was clearly going to provide me with all of those things: contract law, conflict and legal crisis management, mediation, legal writing, business and intellectual property, property law and more.”

Because Hardwig wanted a reputable school, she also researched the law school’s rankings before applying.

“The S.J. Quinney College of Law is ranked #32 by U.S. News and World Report and #12 among public law schools, which is important to me because education is a big investment,” Hardwig expresses.

The best part of the MLS program was the informative classes and networking, Hardwig says, noting that the program significantly impacted her personal and professional trajectory.

“I liked that I was able to attend online and still make connections with students and staff in the program. I also like that alumni can maintain their access to the beautiful building and are part of the U Alumni family,” she says.

After graduation, Hardwig had the opportunity to pilot an innovative housing program through the University of Utah’s Office of Alumni Relations called Home Away From Home. The program allows University of Utah alumni, faculty and staff to host students in their home while they attend classes.

In its pilot year, Home Away From Home had 30 hosts and 22 students participating, and the Office of Alumni Relations hopes to increase enrollment. Hardwig credits her MLS degree with giving her the confidence to proceed with Home Away From Home.

“There is no scenario where I would have been brave enough or known enough about the law to attempt to get approval for and launch this program without my time in the MLS program,” she says.

Hardwig recently accepted a new role as vice president of alumni and donor connection at the North Dakota State University Foundation in Fargo, North Dakota. She is quick to say that her time at the University of Utah helped to prepare her for the position.

“When asked in the interview process how I knew I could relocate and duplicate processes and programs, my answer was authentic and immediate: because of my time in Utah,” Hardwig said in her LinkedIn announcement. “I arrived in March of 2020 and have gotten to spend the last three years learning about the state, faculty, staff, alumni, fans, friends, donors, neighbors and community members of the U. We have grown together, cheered together, worked together, studied together and innovated together.”

Though Hardwig recalls that the MLS program was challenging, this aspect also made it even more rewarding.

“The content is hard and the expectations are demanding, but truthfully, if they had not been I would have felt cheated,” Hardwig expresses. “I worked hard for my degree and it was hard work, but it was also incredibly valuable and a real investment in my professional development.”

Nearly a year has passed since Hardwig graduated from the MLS program, and she feels S.J. Quinney staff were informative and prepared students well for the curriculum. She often encourages others to enroll.

“Do it, do it, do it!” Hardwig says. “Get to know the faculty members and students. They will be your biggest resource.”

Alumni: We want to celebrate your success. Share your personal and professional accomplishments, and we’ll share them in the Class Notes section of future Res Gestae issues. 

This article was originally published in the Summer 2023 Res Gestae issue.