By Chase Rossman, ’17

Writer Richard Bach once penned: “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” For the Hubbard sisters, Rebecca and Alicia, this couldn’t be any more true.

Rebecca was a student at Reynolds Community College studying for her Associate in Applied Sciences in Paralegal Studies when she met with an SPCS representative. The meeting took place nearly one year after her sister, Alicia Hubbard, met with a similar SPCS representative and made her decision to transfer. Alicia was happy with her experience and smooth transition to Richmond and chose to pass along this advice. After thoroughly researching local options, Rebecca listened to her sister and decided it was the right place for her to pursue her degree as well.

“She was having a good experience, so that encouraged me to consider SPCS as well. My sister and I are close, and I respect her insights,” explained Rebecca. “I also looked into what paralegal programs were available locally. When I checked into the reputation of UR’s SPCS degree in Paralegal Studies, I found out that the degree is well-respected in the area legal community.”

On top of her degree in Paralegal Studies, Rebecca was introduced to a career and technical student organization known as Future Business Leaders of America - Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL) through Dr. Melvin Burton, B’59, her economics professor at Reynolds and a Richmond alumnus. Dr. Burton was the Phi Beta Lambda chapter advisor at Reynolds while she served as Chapter Vice President during the 2014-2015 academic year. After taking a few of his classes, Dr. Burton encouraged her to compete in the Microeconomics and Macroeconomics competitions at the State Leadership Conference in 2015.

To her surprise she won first place in both events on the state level, beating out students from all across Virginia. Rebecca enjoyed the networking opportunity: “At the conferences, I went to workshops, listened to lectures, and met amazing students, including our Virginia state officers and students from everywhere from Florida to California.”

Rebecca’s performance at the state-level competitions qualified her to compete at the National Leadership Conference in Chicago the following summer, where she was shocked to take home gold once again in her both of the categories. Recently, Hubbard joined the virtual chapter of FBLA-PBL so she could continue participation as she acclimates to UR. She saw running for office as the next logical step and was elected State Vice President of Membership and Chapter Relations for Virginia.

Even more recently, Hubbard won first place at the National Conference in Atlanta after receiving funding from SPCS to attend. She achieved first place in Organizational Behavior & Leadership and fourth place in Personal Finance competitions. Reflecting on her experience to date in FBLA-PBL, she notes, “I have learned so much through my involvement in FBLA-PBL and have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I have also grown as a person and became more confident in myself in my time in FBLA-PBL.”

Regardless of career path, Hubbard is all ears when her sister has advice: “I would also learn little things just from listening when she talked about her classes... She is a good student herself, and she is very supportive of my academic efforts. She, like the rest of my family, is always there for me.” Likewise, despite taking home a cool $700 for her finish in Atlanta, Hubbard’s greatest enjoyment came from the opportunity to fulfill her role as VP of Membership and network with likeminded people. “I am very much a people person. I felt this position’s focus tied in well with my social personality. I love meeting and interacting with people from around the state and country!”

Her future goals with FBLA-PBL involve helping others achieve theirs, promoting involvement in the organization, and possibly spreading the activities to Richmond. “I love the idea of helping others have the kind of amazing experiences I’ve had through FBLA-PBL. To this end, I want to start a chapter at UR.”

As for her career, Hubbard hopes to eventually work as a paralegal either for an advocacy organization whose goals she supports, a small law firm, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, one of our local county clerk’s offices, or another state or local government agency. “I believe becoming a paralegal will enable me to have a useful, intellectually stimulating career while supporting myself and helping my family, and especially my parents, who have given up so much for me over the years.”

While support from parents goes a long way for Hubbard, support from a sibling may have helped the most. “My sister and I are very close. We’ve been each other’s closest friends forever, and I have often followed in her footsteps. I followed her to Reynolds, and now to UR, despite our different career paths. Even as I started blazing my own path, especially with my involvement in FBLA-PBL, she has continued to be encouraging and another source of learning.”

Hubbard ultimately credits her family and the SPCS paralegal program for the success she has had both in and out of the classroom. “In short, the quality of the SPCS program, the UR name, the amount of work that would transfer, the fact that it was local, the cost, and my sister’s experiences all combined to make it clear to me that UR’s SPCS was the best choice for me.” It’s clear that Alicia’s support has given Rebecca the assurance and self-confidence needed to pursue her highest goals, whether those include FBLA-PBL, education, or any number of future endeavours.

Photo: Alicia Hubbard, C’15, left, and Rebecca Hubbard, right.