NISKAYUNA- Kristina Koes, freshman at Niskayuna high school, had the chance to try out her dream career for a day in the courtroom with First Assistant U.S. Attorney Grant Jaquith during one of Schenectady’s most talked about trial.
“I’ve known for a while that I want to be an attorney,” said Koes. Her parents, David and Debbie Koes, encouraged her to be an estate attorney, but she’s not very passionate about that aspect of law. “I’m not entirely sure yet which type of law I’d most like to work in, but I would say maybe criminal law or family court,” said Koes.
Earlier this month, Koes job shadowed attorney Jaquith during the trial and sentencing of Edward Leon, who was involved in the fire that killed a father and three children.
This case has become well known within Schenectady county and around the country after the surviving victim, Safyre Terry, grew into an internet sensation. When her extended family members and her caregivers posted Safyre’s story of survival and hardship on social media, community members and people around the country began to send Safyre Christmas cards and get well cards. During that time, Safyre received over one million cards.
“When I walked in the courtroom, the atmosphere was pretty tense and it was a little bit nerve wracking to see Mr. Leon and the family in the room,” said Koes.
Job shadowing is included in one of the career and financial management courses Koes is currently enrolled in, with Mrs. Christina Deluca. “Job shadowing is a requirement for the course because students may think they know what they would like to do for their careers or what they’d like to study in college, but until they actually experience the day to day job, they really don’t know,” said Deluca.
Although Koes shadowed attorney Jaquith for one day, she was able to experience one of the most intense parts of the job. “When Mr. Leon stood up to speak, he only spoke for a second and even though the whole courtroom had been quiet before, it was completely silent when he stood up,” said Koes.
“Once the sentence was given, I could tell that the family felt relieved and Mr. Leon was immediately taken away,” said Koes. The only part of the day that Koes was not as involved in was when Mr. Jaquith was preparing for a press conference. “He seemed very tense during that time, and I got to see another aspect of the job,” said Koes. She plans on taking more communications courses so that she’ll be able to face those situations with confidence when she does become an attorney.
Beyond preparing for her future law career, Koes is also an athlete. “I run cross country, track, and I play basketball,” said Koes. But next year, she plans to join mock trial and possibly student court. “I also want to do a lot more community service next year,” said Koes.
While college and law school may seem far off, Koes is already doing as much as she can to prepare and ensure that she’s going into the right career path for her.
“Mr. Jaquith told me that his job is really rewarding because he gets to do the right thing for the right people and that’s exactly why I want to be an attorney,” said Koes.