Robert Andrade was accepted by law schools in his home state of California, but instead he chose to cross the country to enroll at Rutgers Law School in Camden because of its Minority Student Program.
“When I found out about the sort of resources the program offered, such as mentoring and tutoring and providing access to a network of minority attorneys, that was something that I couldn’t really pass up,” he says.
After three years of hard work in and out of the classroom, Andrade is graduating with a juris doctorate from Rutgers Law. The recipient of a Dean’s Pro Bono Publico Award for Significant Service, he has been a very active and committed member of minority law student associations on campus.
His involvement has included serving as vice president of the Rutgers Law in Camden chapter of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA), which included projects such as the Asian Pacific Voter Protection Rights Project, an effort that was successful in registering voters in South Jersey and Philadelphia. He also was treasurer of the South Asian Law Student Association, a senior advisor for the Rutgers Employment and Labor Law Association, and an active member of Alianza, the Latino law student association.
“From my inner-city background, there are not many lawyers who come from my community or the schools I attended,” says Andrade, who grew up in San Francisco. “Completing law school is definitely one of the biggest achievements in my life.”
Andrade, who is also being recognized for excellence in the Rutgers Intramural Mock Trial Team and the Rutgers Trial Advocacy Competition, has accepted a job to work at a law firm in San Francisco practicing labor and employment law. “I am drawn to it because you can connect with people and make sure they can keep what is most important to them, which is their job, so they can provide for themselves and their families,” Andrade says. “There’s a civil rights and human rights aspect to it that is very fulfilling.”
Andrade said he benefitted from the Rutgers Law Minority Student program, which enrolls about 70 students. “I was the only Filipino American in my first-year class, but the Minority Student Program embraces people from all backgrounds,” he said. “It allowed me to find a home away from home.”
The program provides academic support, mentoring, and summer internship opportunities to diverse law students who are underrepresented in the legal field and to law students, regardless of race and ethnicity, who have overcome socioeconomic or educational challenges during their journey to law school. He said the program offered him mentoring in his first year, and his latter two years, he served as a mentor for first-year law students.
“Those of us in the program adhere to this notion of paying it forward through mentorship,” he said.