Wellsboro High School alumnus Amanda Wimbrough Lopez finds herself again moving in a new direction.
Lopez, daughter of Tammy Grinnell of Middlebury Center and the late Jerome Wimbrough and granddaughter of Lenore Wimbrough and Doris Kimball, both of Wellsboro, is receiving her law degree from the Regent University School of Law this month, has already passed the bar exam and is set to begin working for the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General in August. It’s not quite what the Wellsboro Class of 2005 graduate planned.
She planned on a career in law enforcement. While completing her undergraduate degree at Edinboro University, she did an internship with the police department in Ocean City, Md. and soon realized it wasn’t a good fit.
A professor suggested she look into intelligence, which turned out to be a good fit. She was accepted into the master’s degree program at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC and graduated with a degree in strategic intelligence studies. Having graduated from Edinboro in three years, she was the youngest person to attend the Institute.
“It was an awesome opportunity to learn from people who are in it and had some pretty important jobs and are still in it,” said Lopez.
After graduation, Lopez said she had difficulty getting a job as she was competing with people who had military and security clearances. She found an entry-level job with Customs and Border Protection.
She spent two years at the Mexican border in Loredo, Texas, before moving to Suffolk, Va., to work in the city’s intelligence division. Much of her work involved the narcotics and gaming divisions.
“When they investigated somebody and had to know what that person was up to or needed to locate information about that person, they came to me,” said Lopez.
She also determined if protest-type events were planned during special events or any other activities that could harm residents. She worked with intelligence agencies from the six neighboring cities along with federal agencies. She assisted with terrorist threats, but is proudest of her work to help locate a 13-year-old girl.
The teen had been taken from the area and her family was unable to locate her. After several months, the girl called her mother but had no additional information except for the phone number.
Lopez helped locate where the call was made, gave the information to the police department in Superior, Wis., after which the girl was reunited with her family.
“Those are the things that make you feel good,” she said.
She married Isaac Lopez in 2015. Initially, the couple talked about him attending law school.
“I thought I had enough degrees,” she said with a laugh.
However, after watching an attorney at work and thinking “I could do better than him,” Lopez said she felt like God was urging her to take the step.
“I felt like God was saying, ‘Now’s your time. Right now. Here’s your door. I’m opening it,’” she said. “Leaving court, I told my husband, ‘I’m going to law school.’”
She took the Law School Admission Test, scored well and applied to Regent University. She hoped for some financial aid while she juggled her existing job and law school that first year. She got a full scholarship and admission into the honor’s program.
“Every step of the way, I questioned it, but God was like, ‘No, I got this,” said Lopez.
She graduated early, took the bar exam in February and will go through a virtual commencement this Saturday. She accepted a position with the Army JAG and hopes to specialize in intelligence law.
“I feel it’s going to blend my education and background with my law degree perfectly,” Lopez said. “I want to make it a full military career because I am specifically interested in intelligence law and I don’t think there’s any better place to do it than the military.”
Until Lopez starts her job, she is working as an independent contractor with the Center for Global Justice.