A Q&A with Isabel ("Issa") DiSciullo

Isabel (“Issa”) DiSciullo will join the Law School as Associate Dean for J.D. Admissions and Financial Aid.  She is set to begin her duties at the end of April.

What was the deciding factor in your decision to accept your new position at William & Mary?

Photo by Sean SimeThe welcoming and open community is ultimately what brought me to William & Mary. Law school is hard. I know this law school isn’t any different in that regard, but hearing the students talk about how they help each other and push each other to be the best versions of themselves is what closed the deal for me. On my interview day, I arrived a little early to walk around and talk to folks. Students were very warm and eager to help me out. They couldn’t stop talking about their positive experience at William & Mary and a common theme was the wonderful community here. I felt right at home during those conversations and that’s when I knew this would be the perfect place for me.

Besides, the island girl in me was calling me back to warm weather and beaches. William & Mary’s location was a big draw as well!

What should applicants and members of the William & Mary community know about you?

A couple of things people might want to know about me:

  • I usually go by Dean Issa (pronounced Ee-sah). My former students told me they landed on that name after getting to know me. Dean DiSciullo seemed too formal to them. Dean “D” wasn’t quite right. Dean “I” sounded too much like “deny” (which isn’t good for an admissions dean). And calling me by my first name didn’t give me the title and respect they felt I earned in my career. Thus, they dubbed me “Dean Issa” and I’ve used it ever since. 
  • When I’m not working, I’m on the dance floor honing my skills or learning a new style. I was a competitive salsa dancer for years. I still have the costumes to prove it. I have recently started to learn West Coast Swing. I can’t wait to dive into both these dance communities in the Hampton Roads area.
  • Pink is my signature color!

 What do you think is often the biggest challenge for applicants during the admissions process?

It is challenging for many applicants to weigh the value of a good legal education versus the reality that graduate school requires a considerable investment of time and, in many cases, some additional educational debt.

What role do you see admissions playing in helping to address the lack of diversity in the legal profession?

Admissions plays an integral role in helping to diversify the legal profession, and the effort must begin long before applicants apply as college seniors or older adults. It is important for admissions teams to invest and develop pipeline programs to introduce law school and the practice of law to middle school and high school students. Outreach to under-represented communities and first-generation students is especially important.

What advice do you have for someone who has decided to apply to law school?

First, take a moment to revel in the fact that you are in this place in your lives. You have already done amazing and wonderful things to get to this point. Don’t forget that. Be proud of it and celebrate it!

Second, don’t go it alone.  There are so many resources to help you put together a strong application. From your pre-law advisor to friends and family, to me and my admissions team…we are all here to help you be successful. Reach out!

What are three adjectives that best describe your approach to work and life?

Positive.  I always try to approach things with joy and happiness and work to find the silver lining in everything…even when things go wrong.  In life, you’re winning or learning!

Innovative. I try to find new and creative things to do, programs to create, and adventures to explore. I don’t want to live life with regrets and what ifs. I’d rather try something and “learn” then not try anything at all.

Collaborative. There is so much you can learn from others. There’s no need to do life all alone!

What are the most recent things that brought you joy?

Moving to Williamsburg! I’ve been wanting to move south for so long.  To move south and join a school and community that are amazing makes it even better.

 My stepson is graduating from college this summer. He will be the first in his immediate family to obtain a college degree and he also has been admitted to graduate school. I am so happy that I was in his life to guide him through the process!