Jackie Miller: Law & Order

Jackie Miller

Jackie Miller always knew she wanted to pursue a profession in criminal law, but it took her a few job turns – and support through Forsyth Tech’s paralegal program – before she finally landed in the career of her dreams as an investigator with the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office.

“My career path may not have taken a straight line,” Jackie says, “but as I look back, all of my experience led me to where I am now. I like helping people, and that’s the thread that has stitched my diverse background together.”

Jackie graduated from East Carolina University (ECU) with a degree in special education, and taught for a number of years.

A volunteer job with the Winston-Salem Police Department’s Domestic Violence Unit evolved into a full-time position with the department’s Civilian Unit, which takes service calls from citizens that don’t require a patrol officer response. Jackie then transferred to the City of Winston-Salem’s City Link, where she answered questions about city services and became a trainer.

Her growing network of contacts led her to a job with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where, in February 2013, she came across an article about paralegal assistants, which resurrected her interest in law.

“I went to Forsyth Tech’s website and discovered they offered a paralegal program,” Jackie explains. “I emailed Warren Hodges, department chair for paralegal technology, about my background and interest. He said that with my Bachelor of Science from ECU, I could pursue a diploma in paralegal studies rather than a two-year degree, so I could finish in about a year.”

Jackie entered Forsyth Tech’s program in April 2013 and graduated with her paralegal diploma in July 2014, thanks to the “box car class” concept developed by Warren for his day students. Box car classes are a new way of condensing certain courses into intensive month-long rather than semester-long schedules, which allows qualified students to enter and complete the paralegal program on a rolling basis throughout the year.

“Mr. Hodges and Abigail Fitzgerald, another one of my paralegal instructors, were great. Both of them are attorneys and have a great knowledge base.”

She credits Warren’s insistence on having students conduct “informational interviews” (the process of seeking out experts in a particular field and interviewing them about their job) for helping her land her current job. Using this technique, Jackie found an unpaid internship during her final summer at Forsyth Tech in 2014 with the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office, which opened up into a full-time job in September 2014.

“Forsyth Tech’s paralegal program prepared me for this job. After I entered the program, I never second-guessed myself. I knew I had made the right decision,” she says.