A Scholar & A Gentleman: EMU student leader's next step is Harvard Law School

Nino Monea hones political and analytical skills during active four years at Eastern Michigan

by Geoff Larcom, Published April 16, 2014

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Nino Monea cuts a distinct and striking figure around the Eastern Michigan University campus.

Nino Monea

Handsome, friendly, impeccably dressed, often with a signature green bow tie, Monea is most visible because of his deep involvement in campus life, most recently as student body vice president in the active administration of this past year’s president, Desmond Miller.

Within his myriad activities and connections around campus, Monea favors an old political saying: “It's amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.”

As the winter semester ends, Monea and Miller can look back on a variety of major accomplishments, most notably working with the EMU Board of Regents and administration to develop a new tuition policy that offered a path for undocumented immigrants to gain admission to Eastern.

Recently came another striking accomplishment: Monea was admitted to Harvard Law School for the class starting next fall. A stimulating visit to the campus in March sealed his decision to attend.

How hard is it to get into Harvard? Statistics for the class of 2016, the most recently admitted group, indicated that 858 offers of admission were extended to the 5,510 applicants, an acceptance rate of about 15 percent. The average score on the Law School Admissions Test is 173 out of 180 and the average GPA is about 3.9.

Monea, a 4.0 student, earned his way into that group in part by taking more than 60 practice LSATs  along with an extensive preparation course.

“It was tons of work and effort,” he says.

Those who know Monea well are delighted but not surprised at his being admitted to the nation’s most prestigious university. 

“It was always fantastic to have a student in class who picked up on my obscure political references, and could understand the material I was teaching at the highest levels,” says Jeffrey Bernstein, a professor of political science. “But, most importantly, as bright as Nino is, he is as kind and giving as he is intelligent. “

Edward Sidlow, an EMU political science professor and well-known authority on national elections, says that Monea “has a rather unique style, and has to be comfortable in his own skin to pull it off.”

“Obviously he is both very bright and very industrious,” Sidlow says. “Perhaps a fair characterization is that there are times when Nino takes on the qualities of a sponge, as one can get the feeling that he is trying to absorb everything in the room. With age, I am sure he will learn that not everything is worth taking in.”

Monea, a Livonia native who applied only to area universities as an undergrad, including the University of Michigan, liked EMU’s attitude and environment from the moment he first visited campus. The Student Center, the ease with which students can become involved in activities and the Honors College made fast impressions.

He quickly became involved in campus life, joining student government in his freshman year, progressively serving as a student senator, judicial sergeant, director of political action and then student body vice president.

Monea has also excelled in EMU’s Mock Trial program and Moot Court, activities that tap into his interest in public policy and in configuring complex arguments.  EMU political science professor Barry Pyle piqued his interest in Moot Court, and an internship in the office of Michigan congressman Hansen Clarke illustrated the intersection of the analytical aspects of law and what lawyers can contribute to public policy.

Moot Court, which simulates arguments before an appellate court, is one of the largest forensics activities in the country. Monea’s team recently finished 32nd among 300 teams around the country.

Friends and colleagues say Monea is friendly, articulate and composed when he speaks. And then there are the clothes. Always a coat and tie.

“It’s projecting an image,” he says. “People take you more seriously if you dress better. You feel a little more confident.”

Steven Cole, who is Monea’s teammate in mock trial competition, says Monea has been a powerful and positive influence on his own life. “Nino truly treats every person he meets with the utmost respect, and I'm fortunate to know such a genuinely good person,” Cole says.

For Monea, Eastern has proven an ideal place to develop confidence and a sense of public mission.

“When I got here, I was a little anxious,” he recalls. “But the University has let me excel in so many ways. As a student leader, you can have a phenomenal level of involvement here, and enact real change.  I don’t think you could say that at a large research university.

“I’ve gotten to know all the big players on campus, and the faculty have been a really amazing help to me.”

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The Nino Monea File

Who: Nino Monea, a senior at Eastern Michigan University

Major: Public law and government and economics, with a 4.0 GPA.

Age: 21

Hometown: Livonia

High School: Livonia Franklin, after being home schooled for 10 years

Main EMU activities: Four years of student government, including a term this year as student body vice president. Model United Nations, in which students from around the country gather to discuss and confront issues such as globalization. EMU Moot Court and Mock Trial teams.

What’s next: Plans to attend Harvard law school. He hopes to clerk for a federal judge and then work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Geoff Larcom



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