Michael Levin – Driven For A Better World

by | Sep 23, 2019 | Closeup

 Determined, driven, and a thirst for knowledge are a few qualities that have pushed a young man to achieve his goals in a short amount of time. At 22 years old, Michael Levin has already accomplished so much as a professional. He has traveled the world and attended Ivy League and elite schools on both ends of the country while still working to give back to causes he holds dear. Michael’s story is inspiring, yet he remains humble and hopes to use his success to make the world a better place.
Growing up Michael was the third of four children and was always an “old soul.” “I went to the Boys & Girls Club as a kid and made friends with staff members,” he recalled. In his youth, Michael was an avid reader and took an interest in environmental issues – “In fourth grade, I wrote about the coming extinction of panda bears.” His mature demeanor and love for school landed him in the Academy of the Canyons, where he received his Associate’s Degree in Mathematics. “My parents emphasized the importance of education. We grew up working class, and I was taught to believe that education is an engine for upward mobility. My education has made me a better person and allowed me to engage meaningfully with the world around me,” Michael shared.
Soon after graduating Academy of the Canyons, Michael enrolled at University of California, Berkeley, where he completed his Bachelor’s in Economics in two years. “My time at Berkeley was grueling. It took a lot of work to graduate in two years,” Michael stated, remembering the long study sessions. His advice to high school students aspiring to college: “work hard on your academics and try to find something you’re genuinely passionate about, and do something to push it forward.”
Initially, Michael thought he would become a medical doctor, but realized his talents lay elsewhere. While at Berkeley, he explored his talents, interning for Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and volunteering with Berkeley’s Student Legal Clinic. His achievements as an undergrad won him acceptance to Columbia Law School in New York City, where he enrolled at 19 years old and was recognized as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. After his first year, he returned to the west coast to complete his education.
Michael transferred to Stanford University, which offered a joint degree program that married his interests in environmental issues and law. “I transferred to Stanford because it was a better fit, for many reasons… It was closer to my family, offered curriculum closer to my interests, and I really am a Californian at heart.” Michael immersed himself in the culture of giving back. He began working with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and even took a trip to Mexico to provide legal services to asylum seekers. “I grew up in a solid working-class family, and when I found myself in this elite world, it was very important to me to use my position to lift others up as well.”
After three years, Michael graduated at the age of 22 with a law degree and a Master of Science in Environment & Resources. This fall Michael will join Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s technology companies practice group in Santa Monica, where he will counsel startups focused on the environment.
With much success always comes sacrifice. Michael recalls not being able to enjoy school aside from the academic aspects, missing out on sports, and finding it hard to connect with friends because he was always years younger than his classmates. Despite the many challenges, however, Michael is excited about what his life has become. He recently returned from a trip to Tanzania, and is looking forward to settling back down in Southern California. He attributes much of his success to growing up in the Santa Clarita Valley. “So much of my life has been made possible by the people and programs in the City of Santa Clarita; I owe so much to my family, friends, teachers and people I met along the way.”