Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 21, 2024

Humans of Hopkins: Greta Maras

By AIMEE CHO | March 8, 2024

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COURTESY OF GRETA MARAS

Former Leisure Editor Maras encourages Hopkins students to enjoy life in college and explore Baltimore more.

Greta Maras is a Hopkins alum who graduated in December 2022. As an undergraduate, she majored in Political Science and International Studies and minored in German and Environmental Studies. She is currently working as the administrative specialist for the Office of the Public Defender (PDO) in Baltimore. In an interview with The News-Letter, Maras discussed her career aspirations to become a lawyer, research experience as a Woodrow Wilson fellow and passion for baking and running.

The News-Letter: Why did you choose to stay in Baltimore after graduation?

Greta Maras: I worked at the PDO my summer between junior and senior year and had an absolute blast of a time. When I graduated in December, there was a job opening at the PDO. I figured this was a really good match of fate, took the job and ended up staying here. I knew that I was planning to take a gap year between undergraduate and law school, and I figured it made sense to stay in the area while I was working on my LSAT. 

N-L: Can you briefly explain what your role at the PDO entails?

GM: I help lawyers by reviewing the evidence in their case. A lot of times that includes watching police body camera footage or surveillance footage from the incident and reviewing evidence files if there are pictures of forensic evidence like fingerprints, DNA, anything like that. A lot of the time it also involves talking to the clients themselves. I'll set up meetings to go over the footage from their evidence with them in preparation for motions, hearings and trials. That's the casework aspect. I also do some clerical stuff, which involves issuing subpoenas, requesting medical records from hospitals, taking over court documents to the court clerk and getting them certified and inspecting files in the court clerk's office.

N-L: What made you interested in working in that field?

GM: I've wanted to be a lawyer for a long time. My dad was a lawyer, so it was always something on my radar. In high school, I did a mock trial camp; that was the first exposure I had to mock trial, and I really loved it. I did that at Hopkins for all four years.

My course of study in Political Science and International Studies mostly revolved around policy, governments and law. Law has always greatly interested me because I think it aligns well with what I want to do for a career, which is to help people as much as I can in whatever way that I can. It allows me to do that while using the skills I've spent a lot of time honing at Hopkins and in life, namely writing. I did a lot of research at Hopkins, so that helped me implement [writing skills], tons and tons of reading, argument construction and oral argument, which I started to do in mock trial. It seemed like the perfect storm of both what I'm interested in and what I hope to achieve in my career.

N-L: You were part of the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. Can you elaborate about that experience?

GM: The Wilson [Fellowship] was really great. I applied in my senior year [of high school]. I did not expect to get that at all; I just threw something together, hoping to get an opportunity. My topic for the research changed completely after COVID-19, because I became interested in the relationship of COVID with congressional communication. The project was going to be oriented around [congressional communication] when I had written the proposal, but I decided to pivot at that point. 

I spent all three of my summers working on it and learned a lot about how to conduct research, manage your timelines, abide by the goals that you've set for yourself and present your research. I did [the presentation] virtually at a conference and at a Wilson symposium in May 2023.

I also did my undergraduate thesis, another research [project]. I wrote about the German energy transition and their plan to phase out coal usage as an energy source. That was very different from Wilson but also really cool. I worked with my faculty mentor Dr. Harms in the History Department. I just cannot recommend research enough to anybody who ever is considering it, especially social science research. 

N-L: Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?

GM: Five years from now will be two years out of law school, so hopefully I will be having a career. I am really interested in criminal law because that's what I've been involved with, but I am broadly interested in public interest human rights law. Overall, I've done a lot of environmental-focused research, and a lot of my coursework at Hopkins was about that. I definitely want to give that a shot in law school and see if that's a path that I'm interested in taking, or if I end up loving some sort of corporate law, something that I have no exposure to yet. I'm really excited to figure that out in law school.

Ten years — that's a very hard question to answer. I hope that I can do something in all of the areas of interest that I have throughout my career. I would love to work at the higher levels, like potentially federal public defense or working with a national agency about environmental stuff. I want to make a difference on a scale that is genuinely meaningful to people and contribute positively to as many people's lives as possible. That's my main life goal.

N-L: Outside academia, what do you do as a hobby?

GM: This is something that you're forced to grapple with when you graduate college. You're stripped back to the person that you are, and you're no longer the student and the person involved in all those things. I have been thinking about this a lot. My number one hobby throughout my life until now is baking. I love baking. I have a baking Instagram account where I post my final products. I did it with my mom a lot when I was younger and still continue to.

Number two — this might also be number one, they might be tied — is running. I did the Baltimore half marathon, and I also did my first triathlon last year. I was a cross-country track athlete throughout middle and high school, and running is such a joy to me. Not being a student anymore, I have had a lot more free time, so I get to run by the harbor and all around Baltimore. I also watch a lot more TV than I used to, which is not a bad thing, and I need to remind myself that that's okay, especially now that I'm not in school.

N-L: Is there anything else you would like to add?

GM: I think college is so much fun. I know it's so cliché, but it can't be overstated how quickly it goes by and how you have to make the most of every second you have. I think Baltimore is a very special place to go to college. It's such a fun, interesting and unique city. 

There's so much to be discovered here that I think people are maybe scared to [discover] or just don't feel like it and don't think they have the time. I think they should dispel that notion if possible and go see somewhere in the city they've never seen, go eat somewhere they've ever eaten and go to an event that they never went [to]. In four years, you might never come back here. The time that you're in college is not forever, so you might as well have as much fun as possible while you can. I think every Hopkins kid can have more fun, period. No matter who you are and what you do, fun should be more of a priority.

Editor’s Note, 2024: A previous version of this article inaccurately named Maras’ place of work.

The News-Letter regrets this error.


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