1L Kelly Zech: Former Surface Warfare Officer in the US Navy

October 7, 2019

Kelly Zech, 1L, served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy specializing in operations for six years. Most recently, she served as a stay-at-home mom managing three children for seven years. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, where she obtained dual degrees in Management Information Systems and Entrepreneurial Management.

Welcome to the Minnesota Law class of 2022! Could you describe your naval experience and how it connects to your decision to study law?

My Naval service opened my worldview and expanded my perspective. The diversity of experiences and cultures I encountered refined my values. While interested in law before my Naval career, directly experiencing the impact lawyers can have from the development of governmental policy to providing individuals legal aid solidified that ambition.  

After serving as a Surface Warfare Officer in the US Navy, you spent the next seven years as a stay-at-home mom to your three children. How did those jobs compare? How has it been returning to the classroom?Minnesota Law Class of 2022

Navy-life and mom-life both require sleep management, organization, adaptability, and patience. Being a stay-at-home mom is rewarding but all consuming.  I learned to seek out personal growth opportunities, and as such, I love the mental challenge of being in the classroom. My kids motivate me to work hard and be focused.

Why did you select Minnesota Law?

During a tour, an admissions ambassador stopped at the publications wall and stated, “This is my favorite place in the Law School. At Minnesota Law, I am taught by the experts.” I observed this enthusiasm for teaching and learning during every Minnesota Law interaction, and that passion stood out.

Minnesota Law is a place known for putting an emphasis on leadership. What does leadership mean to you? 

Leadership is, no matter what your position, finding the balance between accomplishing a goal or set of goals and valuing the people involved in reaching those objectives.  To me, leaders respectfully build people up in the process of achievement.  

What do you hope to do with your legal education?

As a lawyer, I want to help my community and individuals protect, create, grow, or divide its assets and interests. I see myself practicing business law, but I am open to letting my law school experiences direct my ultimate career path.

What three words describe you best?

Driven, optimistic, analytical

Any hobbies/interests that you would like to share?

Travel, live music, museums, reading, being with family/friends

What else would you like to share with the Minnesota Law community about yourself and/or your aspirations?

I love living in Minneapolis, and I intend on working in the metro area after graduation. I’m excited to rejoin the U as a part of the Law School community.  Go Gophers!

1l Kelly Zech
1L Kelly Zech

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