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Childhood Calling Leads to Adulthood Success

In 2017, Kristen Waggoner would again find herself arguing a controversial case before the supreme court.  In Masterpiece Cake Shop versus the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, shop owner Jack Philips had been ordered by the state of Colorado to make wedding cakes for same sex couples.  That went against his Christian beliefs.

“The principle at stake in masterpiece is whether an American and a creative professional can be forced to speak a message that violates their convictions,” said Kristen.

Since 2013, Kristen has been a lawyer at the alliance defending freedom.  She’s now the senior vice president of the legal division but before she launched her career, she wanted a solid, biblical based education in the law.

“And so for me, the only option was Regent, and I didn't apply anywhere else. I wanted to go to Regent,” she said with a smile.

Kristen says she always knew god had a purpose for her life.  

“When I was growing up, my dad had told me time and again that if you miss what God has called you to do, that you've basically missed the purpose for your life. And that true joy and fulfillment comes from living a life designed to give glory to God.”

She found her calling to go into law at a church youth camp

“And I wrote it down. So it's – I’ve got it written out on a page of notebook paper that I wrote when I was 13 and it's framed and sitting by my bed.  A lot of it is about how hard that it will be to pursue this calling, but that it's to focus on the next generation and to protect religious freedom for Christian schools and religious ministries. Essentially, it's to keep the door open for the gospel.”

After getting her undergraduate degree at Northwest University, Kristen had her choice of law schools, but for her purposes, Regent Law School was the clear choice.

“That first year of law school was phenomenal. I mean, just the-the way that we studied what the law is and where did that come from, looking in the Old Testament, in the New Testament.  I obviously have worked with a number of lawyers that have gone to ivy league schools, they don't get that in their legal education. And it was pivotal for me.”

After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Regent, Kristen went on to a judicial clerkship in the Washington State Supreme Court.

“The other clerks I had were from very big well-known schools. Many of them the ivy league schools. And what I quickly found was I felt like I had had a better education because they didn't know what the common law really was. They didn't know where the law came from, what the foundation of it was, what purposes it should serve.  I felt, not only as prepared as others, but even better prepared in all respects when I entered the marketplace.”

After some time at a prestigious firm in Seattle, Kristen took a position at Alliance Defending Freedom or “ADF,” to fulfill God’s calling and stand up for religious freedom cases full time.

“We have lawyers that have that graduated from many of the ivy league schools and people from all over the nation, and yet time and again, the Regent grads they just excel in what they do. And not only in the quality of their legal work, but in the tenacity with which they do it.”

In her six plus years at ADF, she and her team have won 8 cases before the supreme court, including the Masterpiece Cake Shop case, one of the biggest cases of her career.  

“When you meet people like Jack Philips, it's the greatest – it's the greatest privilege to get to stand by someone like that because you see the horrendous pressure that's being put on them, the political pressure.  You know, I would call him, and he would have just gotten off the phone form having a death threat, and so, no matter what kind of pressure we take as lawyers to stand by people like that, like how could you not be wanting to do that and be standing before the court?”

Kristen continues to pursue her calling with passion and excellence, built on the foundation received at Regent Law School.

“Every day I try to pray, not only for myself, but for my team four things: that we would have wisdom, that we would have fortitude, that we would have self-discipline, and that we would have joy.  I can't imagine doing what I do without knowing that Christ goes before us and that ultimately the victory is not up to me it – otherwise, it just seems that it's an overwhelming job that we're not capable of. And we're not capable of it, but God knows what we need.”

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