Many young children dream of being veterinarians, paleontologists or firefighters, but not Abigail Mulligan. “I’ve wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was a little kid,” she says. “I have lawyers in my family and I’m naturally a very opinionated person, so it’s always appealed to me very organically.”
Abigail’s path to the law started at Greenwood, where her Philosophy class helped her hone her debating skills. “We talked about a lot of really controversial and politically charged topics that people naturally had lots of different opinions and perspectives on,” she says. “I learned how to think critically about these topics and to argue my point of view with other people in a respectful way. I carried that important skill with me into my university discussion groups and debates.”
Abigail’s next step was studying History and Political Science at the University of Ottawa, where she felt prepared for what lay ahead. “Moving from high school to university is a big jump for anyone, but I had all the tools I needed to cope with the change,” she says. She credits Greenwood’s Adviser program with teaching her how to know when she needs help, and how to advocate for herself to get that help. “At the university level, the strong community and support Greenwood offers just isn’t there,” Abigail says. “You have to take it upon yourself to go to talk to professors and teaching assistants one on one. That came naturally to me because of Greenwood.” More than helping her in her studies, these connections also helped to build Abigail’s sense of community at uOttawa. “I got to know my professors and TAs personally, and they all have very unique lives and stories,” she says.
Abigail's postsecondary studies led her to Ottawa.
In her third year at uOttawa, Abigail joined Alpha Phi, Ottawa’s largest sorority. “Greek life brought back that sense of community that I had been missing due to COVID,” she says. Philanthropy is a crucial part of Alpha Phi, and Abigail’s involvement gave her an opportunity to continue her community service; while a student at Greenwood, she made brown-bag lunches weekly for the Youth Without Shelter program and volunteered at St. James Cathedral’s food drop-in. “The sorority raised money on a regular basis for women’s heart health and other causes and organized blood drives,” Abigail says. “That was really important for me.”
Abigail poses at her graduation from uOttawa.
When the pandemic hit, Abigail also partnered with her brother, Tim Mulligan ‘20, on his Canoe 4 Covid
initiative. Tim and five friends paddled 2,000km over the course of 60 days to raise money for COVID relief; Abigail managed the team’s social media presence and fundraising efforts. Canoe 4 Covid ultimately raised an impressive total of over $80,000. “That was one one my proudest moments,” Abigail says. “I feel honoured that Tim allowed me to be involved.”
Abigail with her brother, Tim partnered for the Canoe 4 Covid initiative which raised funds for COVID relief.
Abigail is now a JD student at Western Law, moving closer to that childhood goal of becoming a lawyer. She chose Western due to its community. “Each class is very small and they interact with the other years, so there is a strong sense of friendship and collegiality as well as healthy competition,” she says. Advocacy, social justice and social change are all important to Abigail; while she’s not exactly sure what type of law she’d like to practice, she’s particularly interested in criminal law and the law as it pertains to social policy and its impact on equity-seeking groups.
Abigail credits Greenwood’s co-curricular opportunities with helping her to find her passions, and she encourages future Greenwood students to take full advantage of those opportunities. “You should work hard and try your best in the classroom, but you should also fully engage with experiences outside of academics to figure out what you like and what you want to do,” she says. “If I didn’t participate in things like outdoor education, service learning and the Jazz Band, I might be a little lost right now in figuring out what I wanted to pursue.”