January 30, 2016 06:45 PM

Ariel Winter is quite the inspiring role model.

During her interview at PEOPLE’s SAG Awards preshow, she revealed that if she weren’t at the awards tonight, she’d be studying hard and applying for college.

“I would be doing exactly what I’m doing, which is going to school, applying to college and wanting to be a social justice lawyer,” Winter, 18, told PEOPLE’s JD Heyman. “With my personal experience, I would have something good to give.”

Eric Charbonneau/Invision for People/AP

Check out PEOPLE’s full 2016 SAG Awards coverage and complete winners list!

She added, “It’s always been a dream of mine to become a lawyer, and social justice just feels like it fits for me. I want to continue acting and also go to law school.”

In May, the Modern Family star successfully petitioned to become an emancipated minor, and hopes to use her own experiences to help others.

“I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with the court system,” she said in the latest issue of PEOPLE. “But with what I’ve gone through, I think it’s really important to become a voice for abuse victims who have no voice. I want to be able to make a difference.”

Although she didn’t share what her dream school is, she revealed on the red carpet that she’s applied to 17 schools and hopes to stay in Los Angeles so she can continue to act.

“I want to continue acting and also go to law school,” Winter said. “I think the more knowledge you have, can only better your life.”

The 22nd annual SAG Awards will being presented live from Los Angeles on both TNT and TBS.

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