In his own words, Wilburn recalls what motivated him to go law school, a story that helped earn him Law School Student of the Year honors:
My journey up to this point has been paved with obstacles and set-backs, but most importantly service to others.
Immediately preceding my tenure as a law student, I was an active duty cyber warfare officer in the United States Air Force. My eagerness to serve was evident upon my entrance into active duty. After completing my master’s degree, I was swiftly sworn in as a deputy sheriff in Jackson County Mississippi, post Hurricane Katrina.
Additionally, I volunteered to render last rights to fallen soldiers and veterans throughout the Gulf Coast region as the Officer in Charge for over 75 funerals. These experiences motivated me to serve in a greater capacity as a lawyer.
I applied to law school for the next five years while serving my country all around the world, from the Republic of South Korea, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany and then the Middle East. Each time, I was wait-listed for admission.
Most notably during my time in Germany, while I was in command of the largest communications flight in the entire Air Force, I supervised over 300 airmen in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
It was at this moment that I had accepted my role in life as just an Air Force officer. My career was on the fast track and I was being reassigned to the prestigious Headquarters Special Operations Command. While at this assignment I was notified that I had finally been accepted into law school.
This was great, but I was also slated to serve in Afghanistan as the Deputy Combined Joint Operations Commander of J6. Service came first and I rolled the dice to serve with Green Berets and Navy Seals during fighting season in Afghanistan.
When I returned, after deferring my admission into school, I abruptly separated from the Air Force despite an upcoming promotion to the rank of major. During my time in law school, it was an adjustment to say the least, but I was blessed to serve. I have been able to clock over 300 hours of pro bono work for veterans through the Houston Young Lawyers Association and spearhead community service projects throughout the city as “Mr. Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
While in my 3L year, I was diagnosed with serious vocal cord cyst that caused me to lose all capacity to speak. I was forced to undergo a two-hour surgical removal procedure, which allowed me to finish my sixth internship and be accepted into my seventh at the Texas state capitol during the 2017 legislative session.
Wilburn is one of 25 future lawyers honored in the National Jurist’s 2017 “Law Student of the Year” feature. Find more honorees here.