Zariah Chiverton with SPCS Dean Jamelle Wilson
Zariah Chiverton receives the Student Speaker Award for SPCS Commencement from Dean Jamelle Wilson.

Double Spider makes the most of her UR experience

May 13, 2024

SPCS Commencement

Zariah Chiverton, ’22, is the 2024 Student Commencement Speaker for the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. She is earning her Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) degree, which will make her a double Spider graduate. In 2022, Chiverton earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond, majoring in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL), and planned to attend law school.

Originally, Chiverton had no intention of earning a master’s degree before going to law school. After meeting Dr. Erik Nielson, the faculty chair of liberal arts, she decided to extend her stay at UR and started her graduate program in January 2023.

“Dr. Nielson recommended the MLA program to me, and I’m glad he did,” Chiverton shared. “I was able to tailor the program to suit my career needs, and I feel so much more prepared and confident in the direction of my future.”

With career aspirations of becoming an attorney and a passion for defending and protecting the rights of others, Chiverton worked with Nielson to design her MLA focus on sports and entertainment law, specifically on the protection of student athletes. Throughout her program, Chiverton incorporated research on sports and entertainment law into her coursework. She enrolled in two electives in sports leadership and completed an internship with the Athletics Department’s compliance office, allowing her to gain first-hand professional knowledge of how law and sports intertwine on a college campus.

The MLA program allowed Chiverton to focus and fine tune her long-term career goals. It also gave her the opportunity to maximize her time as Spider. Some of her undergraduate experience was dampened by the COVID pandemic and the personal growth she didn’t know she needed at the time.

“I did okay in school [as an undergrad], but I wanted to look back and be proud of my time at UR,” she reflected. “After finishing this master’s program, I can say that I am.”

Since Chiverton first graduated in 2022, she started working as paralegal in a local law firm and quickly discovered managing a full-time job with graduate school and her other life commitments is challenging, and good time management is critical.

“Procrastination had to become a thing of the past because I didn’t have time to waste,” Chiverton noted.

Not only was Chiverton up to the task of balancing work with school, she excelled. Chiverton credits much of her success to her mom. As a single immigrant parent, her mother modeled hard work, tenacity, and determination. As the youngest of nine children, she also recognizes that the support and sacrifice of her entire family helped her succeed.

“I want to thank my family,” Chiverton said. “They have been a consistent support system that I have always been able to rely on, no matter what.”

Chiverton plans to start law school in the fall of 2025. She’ll spend the summer preparing her law school applications, continue her work as a paralegal, and enjoy not being a student for a little while.