Student Fast-Tracks Her Legal Career at Humphreys University

Karen Calderon was born in Berkeley and moved to the Central Valley in 2006. Her family became established in the area, and she attended local public schools until she was a freshman in high school. Little did she know that her next move would set her up to reach her academic and career goals.
Ms. Calderon’s cousin knew she wanted to be a lawyer and told her about ABLE Charter School. ABLE Charter School is located in north Stockton and strives to expose students to career pathways in business, law and education. ABLE was founded by Wilma Okamoto-Vaughn and Dr. Robert Humphreys, Sr. in 2012 with the goal of empowering students to be independent, life-long learners and productive global citizens. Many local high school students are not exposed to college experiences and ABLE is uniquely positioned with Humphreys University to introduce students to college early on so they know that a college degree is achievable. The more Karen learned about ABLE and its affiliation with Humphreys University, the more it confirmed that it was the right place for her.

Karen enrolled in ABLE Charter School in her sophomore year. One of the advantages of attending ABLE Charter School was that many of the AP classes articulated, or transferred in, to Humphreys University. She also took advantage of dual enrollment courses offered to ABLE students. Dual enrollment courses allow students to take college courses while in high school and earn high school and college credits at the same time with no tuition or book costs. The only requirement as an ABLE student is to pass a college entrance exam. Taking articulation courses and dual enrollment courses helped Karen save years of schooling in the long run.

Karen was awarded the Gregory Vaughn Memorial Book Scholarship and graduated high school in 2016 with 88 college credits by taking courses, including Oral Communications, various legal classes (like Torts and Contracts), and Psychology. Ms. Calderon obtained her Associate of Arts degree in 2017 while working full-time and attending summer and evening classes at the university. In 2018, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies Cum Laude. In addition, her academic excellence was recognized when she was named on the Dean’s List and received the Outstanding Scholar Achievement Award that same year. This year, Karen gained her Juris Doctorate and is currently studying for the California bar exam.

During a recent interview, Ms. Calderon said, “I loved the faculty at Humphreys University because they always made me feel welcome, and they genuinely care about their students. The Dean of Law School and my advisor, Matthew Reynolds, gave me books to study from and study tips when I took my LSAT. I love the sense of community at the school because everyone wanted me to succeed. I knew they had my best interest at heart.”

She went on to say that the friendly competition between the students in the classes challenged her academically and pushed her to do better. The university does not have a party atmosphere like most colleges, so some students might feel like they are missing out on that part of student life. However, Humphreys caters to students who are serious and committed to their studies. Humphreys’ students participate in study groups, support each other in academic achievements, and share notes. The small campus has a sense of camaraderie, and students find ways to connect with others on campus. Many of Karen’s classmates were older adults who balanced family life and full-time jobs. She said that this inspired her and kept her motivated.

As a Latina, Karen said “I was impressed with the diversity that I saw while at my time at Humphreys.  It made me so happy to see so many Latinos graduating at each ceremony and how proud their family members were of them.” 

Sandra Curiel, the Marketing Coordinator at Humphreys, explained, “ABLE is an extraordinary school that is being noticed in the community. However, what many people don’t know about is the partnership ABLE has with Humphreys. The partnership allows them to enroll into the university during their junior and senior years to jump-start their academic career, at no cost to the student or their family. Karen is a prime example of this partnership working and Wilma Okamoto-Vaughn and Dr. Humphreys’ vision succeeding. Obtaining a JD for most individuals typically takes at least eight years of schooling, but since Karen attended ABLE, took advantage of articulation and dual enrollment courses, she obtained her JD by the age of 23. We have had many success stories, including students who graduate with their AA degree on the same day they graduate from high school. We are all extremely proud of Karen and hope that her story inspires others.”

Humphreys University is a non-profit university founded in Stockton and focused on student success since 1896. They offer open enrollment throughout the year, 20 degrees, and 11 programs, including Legal Studies, Accounting, Court Reporting, Criminal Justice, and Business Administration. Humphreys is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission and the law school is accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California. They offer financial aid for qualified students and flexible schedules, such as online and evening classes, in addition to on-campus learning at their Stockton and Modesto campuses. Humphreys offers high school students many opportunities to explore early college experiences. Apart from their partnership at ABLE, they offer all Central Valley junior and senior high school students the opportunity to take a free summer course. 

To learn more about Humphreys University, visit their website at For information about opportunities for high school students at Humphreys University, contact April Huerta at

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