Former police officer from Huyton has just graduated with a Masters in International Business Law with distinction and will take the New York Bar exam in July 2017. Tony McDonough reports.
Police officer, beauty therapist, cruise ship spa manager, lecturer, digital entrepreneur and now law graduate – Merseyside mum Jo Schumacher embodies the spirit of change and innovation.
Now Jo is set to add an international dimension to her impressive CV as she pursues a dream of becoming a US lawyer.
The 46-year-old from Huyton has graduated from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) with a Masters in International Business Law with distinction.
And, in July 2017, she will travel to New York to sit the Bar exams to qualify as the US equivalent of a barrister.
If she passes, it means she’ll be licensed to practice law in the city, an exciting prospect for travel-loving Jo, who aims to secure legal consultancy work for companies with links to New York or US offices.
Following the dream
Having raised her son Angus, 11, as a lone parent, the 46-year-old has been determined to combat stereotypes, in a bid to inspire others that it’s never too late to follow a dream.
She spent five years as a police officer in Merseyside Police but found the shift work incompatible with bringing up a child alone.
After taking several different career paths she eventually enrolled on her law degree at UCLan.
Then, following the completion of her degree and with a goal of becoming a barrister, Jo embarked upon the Masters at UCLan, being drawn to the course by its international aspect.
“Law is highly competitive and we all need a unique selling point, so I wanted to increase my chances of being successful at getting a job after graduation with a Masters to my name,” she said.
“In addition to the academic side, UCLan provides so many opportunities including leadership courses and overseas travel.
“The message I want to send is that dreams are achievable. I didn’t go to university when I was 18, instead I travelled the world working on cruise liners.
“But it shouldn’t stop people from going after their ambitions.”
Jo credits her mother and father, Marie and Peter, for the staunch support which has seen her face the challenges that come with combining childcare with studies, as well as balancing pro bono work for small businesses in Liverpool.
“It’s been hard work, working full time and finding time to study in the evenings after my son went to bed,” she added.
“But it’s all been worth it, and my family has supported me the whole way. My success can be attributed to the support and dedication of the staff at UCLan’s law school, too.”
Jo is one of 1,500 students who graduated in front of family and friends at Preston’s Guild Hall during the winter ceremonies.