University of Southern Indiana

Alumni Highlight - David Staples '09

“I didn’t know they still taught Latin,” was a common response I got as a USI student when I would tell people what kind of classes I was taking. As a history major and classical studies minor, a follow-up question would often be, “What will you be able to do when you graduate?” For me, it was law school.
And now, as a full-time public defender in Indianapolis, my impoverished and often incarcerated clients are not concerned whether a liberal arts education is still relevant today. They care that I can listen to them. They care that I can put myself in their shoes. And, they care that I am able to explain their point of view to a jury. The ability to take in diverse ideas, with empathy, in a way I can explain to others was foundational to my liberal arts education at USI, and I am a better lawyer for it.
If the body of knowledge taught at USI were a literal body, the College of Science and College of Business might make up the bones and blood, but the College of Liberal Arts is the soul – that which makes us human. Algebra doesn’t bring people to tears, but the arts do. My humanities education from USI is the basis from which I am able to bridge the human experience between the trier of fact and my accused client.

I have represented thousands of clients in my brief career and had jury trials for everything from public drunkenness to murder. My time at USI has been invaluable in my practice of the law and will always be.

Written by David Staples

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