April 19, 2012
By Brittney Richerson | Ranger Editor
OVER THE past four years, Ben Staton has had plenty of time to practice making popcorn, selling and tearing tickets, seeing to it that movies run smoothly and cleaning theaters.
His job at the local United Artists theater has paid the bills, and he even said he loves what he does.
However, Staton dreams of one day being sworn into office as attorney general of the United States of America.
Of the AC students who have pursued a degree in paralegal studies since the curriculum first was offered in fall 1999, not a single male student has graduated from the program.
“It’s kind of hard to believe,” Staton said. “I mean, I’m a guy and I did it, so it’s definitely possible.”
He said despite being one of fewer than a handful of males in the AC paralegal studies program, the experience has been one of the most fun, challenging and memorable in his life so far.
“In the beginning, it was really weird,” Staton joked. “Most of the women in my classes are like my mother’s age. Now, they bring me food and stuff. They make sure I remember my assignments and when tests are. They are willing to help me study. It’s like having a bunch a moms.”
Bruce Moseley, paralegal studies coordinator, said being a male student in the paralegal department could be awkward because it is a female-dominated field.
This semester, only two of 17 students were male in both the Introduction to Law and the Criminal Law classes, Moseley said.
The imbalanced ratio carries over into the professional world, where 92.5 percent of professional paralegals in Texas are female, according to research conducted by the State Bar of Texas.
“Ben has handled it so well from the beginning,” Moseley said. “He is the ideal student – curious, wants to learn. He’ll read and look up cases and really get engaged. A professor’s dream.”
Moseley said he hopes Staton’s graduation will inspire other male students who have an interest in law to join the program.
“He is the first at AC to start paving that path, and I think he’ll realize it was a great place to start,” he said.
Moseley said he hopes Staton will be an inspiration to the other males in the program.
Luis Gutierrez expects to graduate with his associate degree in paralegal studies in May 2013.
Staton and Gutierrez agreed that being the minority in their female-dominated classes made them want to help each other reach their goals.
“I learned to stick to the only other guy who was around the department, and we became like best friends pretty immediately,” Staton said.
Gutierrez said he respects Staton’s confidence and ambition.
“The way he walks and talks, you know he is a down-to-earth guy, but he is so sure of himself and what he wants to do,” Gutierrez said.
Staton said he plans to go to the University of North Texas in Denton this fall to pursue a bachelor of applied art and science degree. From there, he said, he hopes to go to law school.
Staton said AC’s paralegal studies program has been challenging but worth every bit of time and effort he has put into it.
“It’s got to be one of the most fun degrees AC has to offer,” Staton said. “I’ve learned so much and loved all of my classes, except for bankruptcy.”
He will walk the stage on May 11, officially becoming the first male graduate of the paralegal program.