My name is Jeri D’Aurelio and I’m a Captain in the U.S. Army JAG Corps. I grew up as a competitive gymnast until I broke my back when I was 12. The well-round coordination and strength that I developed in my years of gymnastics made it easy for me to transition into many other sports. After my gymnastics career, I needed another competitive physical challenge. I took up soccer, track, cross-country, wrestling, diving, triathlons, orienteering, snowboarding, hockey, and skydiving. I was able to learn and develop new skills in each of these sports but was still searching for the next challenge.
My want for a challenge isn’t limited to physical challenges. As someone who struggled in school in the early years, no one (not even myself) would believe I would become a lawyer one day. I was not someone who grew up knowing I wanted to become a lawyer. When I finished my undergraduate, I didn’t really have a plan…a calling. So, I decided that I would just keep challenging myself in school (the hardest type of challenge for me) until my calling jumped out at me. Before I knew it, I was knees deep in my first year of law school thinking I had made a huge mistake. Being too competitive to quit, although I thought about it often, I pushed through and somehow graduated cum laude.
When I was studying for the Texas State Bar, I applied to be on American Ninja Warrior, thinking there would be no chance of making it in since so many people apply. To my shock, I was chosen to compete in the special military episode in Season 7 of the show. Fast forward, I have now competed on every season since Season 7, as well as on all three seasons of the “Ninja vs Ninja” race series that aired on USA Network. While I’m not able to train as often as the other ninjas because of my job, I have managed to do a little better every single year that I have competed.
I have been so lucky to find a way to practice law in a non-traditional way. In the last year, I have graduated from Air Assault School and Airborne School. I don’t know of any other law firm that will pay its lawyers to repel and jump from aircraft’s.
While it’s not easy to balance being a full-time attorney for the Army and also remain a top spot contender on American Ninja Warrior, I feel like I have cracked the code on how to stay physically and mentally challenged while feeling rewarded by the work I’m able to do.