Career Corner: ‘Dream big and do good’
By Felicia Holloman (3L)
David Kerner (JD 10, BA 06) recalled a quote from Chesterfield Smith; a motto he believes every alumnus should follow.
“Dream big and do good.”
Kerner is no exception to the rule; he is an attorney with Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, & Zoeller, P.A., but is soon headed to Tallahassee as a Representative in the Florida House of Representatives.
Kerner recently won the Democratic primary election in District 87 and is running unopposed in the general election. District 87 includes West Palm Beach, Lake Worth Greenacres, Palm Springs, Glenridge and Cloud Lake. Kerner will be one of 120 representatives responsible for introducing legislation, passing laws, and appropriating funds on behalf of Florida citizens.
However, before embarking upon a career in politics, Kerner’s path took him through law enforcement, law school, prosecution, and civil litigation.
“I was fortunate enough to be accepted into UF Law,” said Kerner, who spent four years working as a police officer with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and city of Alachua before applying to law school.
At UF Law, Kerner was chief justice of the UF Supreme Court and vice president of the Law College Council. He was also a member of the Gainesville Board of Adjustments and Alachua County Environmental Protection Board. Meanwhile, Kerner continued to work as a police officer part-time to help pay his way through law school.
The common theme behind Kerner’s career and education was community service.
“When you go to UF Law, you have a responsibility to give back to the state,” Kerner said.
Kerner’s sense of indebtedness to the state that fostered his education is apparent in his policy platform; Kerner intends to protect institutions of higher education. He also looks forward to joining the “Gator Legislative Caucus,” which is a group of Gator alumni who serve in the Florida Legislature.
Reflecting on the campaign trail, Kerner found it to be an inspiring process. The most rewarding part of running for office, according to Kerner, is receiving phone calls from and meeting people who are passionate about causes.
As he transitions into public office, Kerner continues to contribute to the community outside of public office. Kerner serves on the UF Law Alumni Council and volunteers as a police officer.
“I also enjoy immensely Florida football,” he said.
As for students who may be considering running for office in the future, Kerner advises, “Don’t be interested in a career in politics; be interested in serving your community.”
According to Kerner, opportunities arise for individuals who commit themselves to responsibilities and have a record of service.
“People will look to you to be a leader,” Kerner said.
Kerner also suggests students think “big,” reminding them that many successful alumni had humble beginnings as UF Law students.
“For example, many students don’t realize that Professor Jon Mills, who attended UF Law, was speaker of the (Florida) House,” remarked Kerner. “Countless Supreme Court justices, federal and state legislators, and governors studied at UF Law.”
There is “no better springboard” than an education at UF Law for pursuing one’s aspirations, believes Kerner, who will continue to pursue his aspirations all the way to the capitol. For now, he is still getting used being called “Rep. Kerner.”