Friends Are Never Far Away When You’re a Brave

When Isaiah Harlan (’21) and William Belles (’18) entered law school at Northern Illinois University (NIU), they didn’t really know each other. They had one class together at Bradley, but that connection was strong enough to create a new bond.

“The first week of law school I didn’t know anyone. Isaiah looked familiar and when he mentioned going to Bradley, I quickly told him that I did too,” Belles said. Bradley’s close-knit campus makes connections like this possible, and it’s part of its appeal, as Harlan explained. “You can find someone from Bradley anywhere. It has a certain aura about it because you see and notice people more frequently.”

This unique feeling of familiarity makes connecting with a fellow alum exciting and easy. For these two, their shared connection developed into a successful partnership at NIU. After both competed as opposing counsel in a Closing Argument Competition, which saw them each win their respective positions, Harlan and Belles looked to become a team for the next challenge: a Moot Court Competition.

Having a friend to work with was crucial, because Moot Court upped the ante—higher stakes and greater pressure. But, the decision to team up was clear, as Belles recalled: “We chose each other immediately!” Together, they had to research and write their own appellate brief that was then argued in a courtroom setting with real judges across multiple rounds.

“It is incredibly intimidating. Judges cut you off in the middle of a sentence and you have to maintain your composure,” said Harlan. Despite their nerves, the pair was invincible, beating out other contenders all the way to the finals where they presented to Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary O’Brien, and won the competition.

The Bradley connection came full-circle for Harlan and Belles, and they hope all students and alumni appreciate the special bond that Braves share.

Harlan said it best: “Put your trust and confidence in others at Bradley, because everyone wants to help you and see you succeed.”

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