Osato Chitou ’10, the medicare compliance officer for Gateway Health Plan and current president of the Alumni Association in Newark, was honored by the Rutgers Law School Association of Black Law Students at its 26th annual Jazz for Justice Program in Newark in early February.
After accepting her award, Chitou told the students that she was proud to be a graduate of Rutgers Law School because of its commitment to social justice, “We do provide a voice for the voiceless. We have a story to tell.”
Yvonne Smith Segars '84 was one of the honorees at the Jazz for Justice event in Newark.
Yvonne Smith Segars ’84, the former state public defender and current professor of criminal justice at Kean University, also was honored by the law students. Segars harkened back to the history of minority students at Rutgers Law School, “We were activists, we were student leaders. It was our ‘People’s Electric Law School, ‘” she said. “We didn’t get here because we were polite. We were denied access and it was on the shoulders of other people we stand. “
Segars also urged the law students to continue to help the disenfranchised, “Find the time to contribute. Be an activist. Give back.”
This year’s Wanda Green Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Ibn Alston ’19, a graduate of Farleigh Dickinson University, who has a passion for helping the underserved and for politics. Alston, recognized his mother from the podium and said he was grateful for the strong support system at the law school. “This is only the first part of the journey,” he said. “I’m still a work in progress.”
Co-Dean Ronald Chen ’83, said while law school applications from students of color are decreasing nationwide, they are increasing at Rutgers Law School, “Rutgers Law School is a beacon of what lawyers who use law to promote social justice can do.” Chen referred to a recent immigration ban and how it has affected some Rutgers students, “Affairs in the country have reinvigorated the importance of being a lawyer and what a lawyer can do” and urged students to, “use these professional skills to help those who have desperate need of it.”
Edumin Corrales and Leslie Linares-Polanco, the Co-Vice Presidents of Community Affairs for ABLS, welcomed the guests who attended the event at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark. Samuel Norwood III, the president of the Newark ABLS chapter, inspired the students with his words, “It is our job to fight injustice, now more than ever.”
The evening, which raised scholarship funds, was themed “The Power of Unity: Kindah – One Family” and featured a performance by the Harlem Central Jazz Trio, an art auction, and a sit-down dinner and open bar.