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Andy Walsh (’09)

Alumni Spotlight

Andy Walsh (’09) North Carolina State University & University Of North Carolina Law School

August 10, 2019

Something to Prove

By his junior year at CA, Andy Walsh was grappling with his future.

An accomplished hockey player, he toyed with the idea of taking a gap year to play competitively. He credits college counselor Laura Sellers, his fellow students, and a newfound passion for political science and law—courtesy of RJ Pellicciotta’s advanced United States government class—with helping to set him on the college track.

“CA helped push me to focus on my educational outcomes and to think broader,” explains Walsh. “My friends were all getting into college and I got to a place where I wanted that for myself, I wanted to be part of a great college experience.”

And what did his ideal experience look like? He knew that he wanted to look at local cost-effective options—those that offered a big school experience, flexible curricula, a strong athletics culture, and competitive sports teams. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University were obvious choices.

Walsh got into State early action, but Carolina rejected him. “Not even the waitlist,” he laughs. “Initially, it was a little hard to take, but, truthfully, that rejection was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It made me even more appreciative of the opportunity at State, and it also gave me a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to prove that

Carolina missed out by not admitting me.”

Right then and there, Walsh made three goals that would define his undergraduate college experience: to participate in clubs, get academic honors, and get into law school.

On campus, Walsh declared a political science major and immediately joined the club hockey team, a familiar experience that had the added benefit of providing an instant friend group. Wanting to get involved in something that would help with law school admission, he opted for student government, winning his first senate seat his freshman year. It would be the beginning of a student government career that would span all four years and include three senate seats, an appointment to the executive branch, and, ultimately, election as student body president his senior year.

Still, the transition from CA’s small community to the enormous 35,000+ student population was daunting in those early semesters; it didn’t always feel like the right choice. After considering a transfer, he decided instead to “double-down” on what it was that he liked most about State: the traditions of  the university.

“My parents never went to a four-year college, so growing up I didn’t have that immediate allegiance to a school that a lot of other kids did,” he explains. “I always thought that connection, that sense of pride was cool. I wanted to help cultivate those feelings for students that, like me, didn’t have them walking in the door.”

Over the next few years, Walsh oversaw a variety of traditions-driven projects, including getting a living mascot for the athletics department; overseeing the “Coaches’ Corner” project that unveiled statues of retired basketball coaches, including Jim Valvano and Kay Yow; and creating “the brick,” a living scrapbook/guide to State’s traditions that is given to every incoming freshman as an invitation to engage.

On graduating Phi Beta Kappa with honors in 2013, Walsh focused on acquiring work experience in preparation for law school. He interned first at SAS, in the Government Relations Department, before transferring into a full-time position at Smith Anderson, one of the largest firms in North Carolina. His mentors at Smith Anderson encouraged his application to law school and in 2016 he was admitted to the University of North Carolina’s School of Law.

Walsh graduated UNC’s School of Law in 2019 and is currently studying for the bar. He looks forward to stepping into his new role in the Charlotte, NC office of the international law firm Cadwalader where he’ll be working on fund finance and corporate law.

His reflection on ultimately being both a member of the Wolfpack and a Tar Heel? “I think State and Carolina do a really good job of identifying the right people for their campuses. I’m so grateful for that,” Walsh reflects.

“Having been there for grad school, I can say with certainty it would not have been a good fit for me as an undergrad. At State, I had just what I needed and every opportunity to prove myself. If you work hard, there are amazing opportunities that will open to you.”considering a transfer, he decided instead to “double-down” on what it was that he liked most about State: the traditions of the university. “My parents never went to a four-year college, so growing up I didn’t have that immediate allegiance to a school that a lot of other kids did,” he explains. “I always thought that connection, that sense of pride was cool. I wanted to help cultivate those feelings for students that, like me, didn’t have them walking in the door.” Over the next few years, Walsh oversaw a variety of traditions-driven projects, including getting a living mascot for the athletics department; overseeing the “Coaches’ Corner” project that unveiled statues of retired basketball coaches, including Jim Valvano and Kay Yow; and creating “the brick,” a living scrapbook/guide to State’s traditions that is given to every incoming freshman as an invitation to engage. On graduating Phi Beta Kappa with honors in 2013, Walsh focused on acquiring work experience in preparation for law school. He interned first at SAS, in the Government Relations Department, before transferring into a full-time position at Smith Anderson, one of the largest firms in North Carolina. His mentors at Smith Anderson encouraged his application to law school and in 2016 he was admitted to the University of North Carolina’s School of Law. Walsh graduated UNC’s School of Law in 2019 and is currently studying for the bar. He looks forward to stepping into his new role in the Charlotte, NC office of the international law firm Cadwalader where he’ll be working on fund finance and corporate law. His reflection on ultimately being both a member of the Wolfpack and a Tar Heel? “I think State and Carolina do a really good job of identifying the right people for their campuses. I’m so grateful for that,” Walsh reflects. “Having been there for grad school, I can say with certainty it would not have been a good fit for me as an undergrad. At State, I had just what I needed and every opportunity to prove myself. If you work hard, there are amazing opportunities that will open to you.”

Written by Dean Sauls

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