Students from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) participated in the Third Annual National HBCU Pre-Law Summit and Law School Expo held at the Georgia State University College of Law, and Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, recently. The summit is the only major national event of its kind in the country with a focus on empowering HBCU students and graduates interested in going to law school and becoming attorney and addresses the unique issues, concerns and challenges facing them. This is the second year UAPB students have participated.
The students who attended were: Tonisha Cox, Political Science; Jael F. Frierson, Political Science; Salonica Hunter, Broadcast Journalism; Joshua Lockhart, History and English; Christ-Shamma Matalbert, Political Science; Sireta T. Roach, English/Non-Teaching; Khailyn Thompson, Political Science; Angel Thurman, Criminal Justice and English; and Kortney White, Political Science.
Keynote speakers included Ronald S. Sullivan, Esq., Clinical Professor of Law and Faculty Director, Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard Law School (Cambridge, Massachusetts); Willie E. Gary, Esq. Partner, Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson & Gary, and PLLC. (Stuart, Florida); Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Deputy Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education and Acting Executive Director, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Washington, DC); Pamela J. Meanes, Esq., Partner, Thompson Coburn LLP and Past President, National Bar Association (Saint Louis, Missouri); and Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Esq., Partner, Lawrence & Bundy LLC (Atlanta, Georgia).
The students participated in sessions on financing legal education, managing student loan debt, preparing for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), knowing your rights, getting involved, and demonstrating leadership during the current Black Lives Matter Movement.
During the Law School Expo, students had the opportunity to meet with law school representatives from more than 50 law schools across the USA to find out about their law programs and get answers to their questions. Refreshment breaks and networking receptions provided unique opportunities for students to participate in both structured and informal networking activities. These activities allowed them to connect with other students who were aspiring to be law students, current law students, and lawyers.
One-on-one consulting sessions were offered to students so that they could receive feedback on their personal statements, diversity statements, resumes, addenda and answers to any burning admissions, preparation or career planning questions. Complimentary resources were also provided to all pre-law participants.
Evangeline M. Mitchell, Esq., Ed.M., an HBCU graduate and first-generation college student, law student and lawyer and founder of the summit, stated that, “We know that the idea of becoming a lawyer can seem intimidating and out of reach to so many African Americans who are firsts to pursue this path. We want to demystify what it really takes to gain access into law school and the legal profession. Our goal is to break down those walls of exclusivity and exclusion to help them see their goals as attainable, and at the same time we want to be honest and transparent so that they understand the very real difficulties and obstacles they will face so they can prepare themselves to overcome them and succeed.”
Mitchell and other coordinators commented that UAPB students were very active in participating and assisting with the conference. Participation in this event was sponsored by the Center for Pathways to Graduate and Professional School. Brooks assisted with the coordination. For more information about the center, contact Mary Jones at (870) 575-7014.