Rachel Ballman, 3L & CASA Volunteer
Our CASA kids aren't the only ones heading back to school this month! Living in a college town like Lynchburg, many of our CASA volunteers are graduate students pursuing degrees in fields related to CASA. Meet Rachel Ballman, one of our advocates who has been successfully serving as a volunteer while going to law school full-time.
Name: Rachel Ballman
Length of Service: 1 year
Children Served/Being Served: 3
How did you find your way to CASA?
I'm originally from Kansas City, Missouri, but my husband and I came to Lynchburg to attend graduate school--I'm at the law school, and he's at the LU College of Osteopathic Medicine. I was introduced to CASA through the Liberty University School of Law. I was thinking I'd like to do GAL work in the future, and LUSOL's community coordinator at the time, Debra Beale, who has done GAL work in the community and worked with CASA often, suggested I check out the organization and think about volunteering. I interviewed as I was finishing up my 1L year. CASA was a bit skeptical of me serving during my 2L year, just because of how demanding law school is, but I knew this was something I wanted to do, and that I would make it a priority. I did, and I was able to successfully balance my case along with school, and am now going into my 3L year and some new CASA cases, too!
How do you pass the time when you're not doing CASA casework?
I'm pretty busy with school, and while I'm in school I don't work, although I interned over the summer. I also volunteer with a group at the law school called Street Law which is where we go to the group home and detention center and have conversations with the kids about the law. My husband and I spend quality time together whenever we can, since I have classes and he is currently doing his clinical rotations. I also love spending time with my golden retriever puppy, Lila.
What is meaningful to you about being a CASA? What keeps you going?
What keeps me going as a CASA is when it comes to the end of a case and the judge has to made a tough choice and I feel like my report of all the details I have covered in a case are heard and matter. Also, just spending time with my CASA kids and watching them grow and flourish with time - it makes me want to fight for them and do all I can in my position to put them in the best possible placement.
Has your CASA experience impacted your career goals?
Yes, definitely! I've gained courtroom experience and professional contacts in this area, and seen multiple cases at various points along the foster care timeline. My CASA experience has confirmed for me that this is what I want to do in my career.
Thanks so much to Rachel for contributing her time and effort with us while she works towards her future! We appreciate you so much, Rachel!