When asked about similarities between serving in the U.S. Navy and attending law school, Alysa Ambrose is quick to answer. “One similarity is functioning on less sleep,” says Alysa, who retired in January 2020 after a distinguished 25-year career in the Navy. “There are different kinds of stressors—academic stress is a very real thing, but it’s not the same as facing Iranian gun boats.”

The Hampton, Pa., native graduates from the Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University Saturday, May 18. Alysa will take the Bar Exam in July, then begin a clerkship with the Honorable Joy Flowers Conti, senior district judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Her Navy journey took her across continents, including 30 countries, as she ascended to the rank of captain. She was named commanding officer of the warship USS Gravely—a billion-dollar, 510-foot long, guided-missile destroyer—and was the Navy’s first female commander of the five-year old warship. Alysa successfully maneuvered the rigors of command and unpredictable waters of global conflicts while ensuring the security of her 325-member crew.

Alysa Ambrose and her three children
Alysa Ambrose with her three children

Just before her Navy retirement, Alysa and her husband separated, and she and her kids (a 15-year-old daughter and 12-year-old boy and girl twins) moved to Marshall Township in summer 2019. 

“Fast-forward a few months, the COVID Pandemic hit and I’ve got three kids—one of whom has special needs—sitting at the kitchen table on iPads,” Alysa says. “So, I became a homeschooling mom for a year and a half.”

Alysa and her kids persevered through lockdown, and when in-person schooling returned in the fall 2021, she was ready to do something for herself. She re-visited one of her childhood dreams—law school.  

“I asked myself, ‘Could I really do law school?’ ‘At my age?’ ‘At my kids’ ages?’” explains Alysa, who toured the Duquesne Kline Law School and, within three weeks, applied and took the LSATs. “And here I am.”

As a non-traditional law student with different priorities, Alysa’s connections with faculty and staff were key. They walked alongside her trusting in her potential, even connecting her with contacts that led to her clerkship. “Everybody has been so understanding and supportive,” says Alysa, who is now considering becoming a judge in the future. 

Looking toward the boundless horizon of a meaningful legal career, Alysa is ready to navigate new waters with purpose and resolve.

News Information

News Type

Bluff Stories


May 17, 2024