More than 400 Rutgers Law School students are graduating in May 2023. It’s impressive on its own that the 160+ students in Camden and 250+ students in Newark started their law school journeys on Zoom during the COVID pandemic in 2020. Many are also first generation college and/or law school students. Some earned their juris doctorate in the part-time program while working full-time jobs. Now, they are beginning the next phase of their lives working in top law firms, clerkships, fellowships, and even the hospital. Here are some of the graduates of the Rutgers Law School Class of 2023.
Hometown: Allentown, Pennsylvania (First generation JD recipient)
Plans after graduation: Assistant District Attorney for the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office
Ultimate goal: Start my own law firm
“Rutgers Law School provided me with the tools and opportunities I needed to succeed. The jump start program and the chance to network with students and alumni from all over New Jersey are just a few reasons why being a Rutgers Law student was a unique and fulfilling experience for me. Although I will miss attending as a student, I am eager to continue attending alumni events and passing on the knowledge I have gained.”
Hometown: Audubon, New Jersey (First generation graduate student)
Plans after graduation: Assistant District Attorney for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
Ultimate goal: To help effect change within the criminal legal system whether that be through victims’ advocacy or public interest work
“Graduation is a bittersweet moment. As I am excited for the future, I am also deeply grateful to the loved ones who have made this possible. My late brother, Zachary, gave me the motivation to follow this dream and I am honored to graduate with that in mind. Rutgers Law has provided me with lifelong connections and graduation would not be possible without its incredible faculty.”
Hometown: Denver, Colorado (First generation college student)
Plans after graduation: Law Clerk for Honorable Brian Kenney, United States Bankruptcy Court in Alexandria, Virginia
Ultimate goal: Work for the US Attorney’s Office or the Securities Exchange Commission as a prosecutor for white collar crime
"Rutgers Law has been the most difficult thing I have ever faced, but it has been one of the most fulfilling! This past three years of law school was everything I thought it was going to be and a heck of a lot more. I am immensely grateful for my time here, and my advice to the future class is to let this journey take you to where you’re meant to be. Don’t force anything and keep an open mind as you explore the direction you want to go."
Hometown: Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York (First generation graduate student)
Plans after graduation: First-year associate at Cullen and Dykman
Ultimate goal: To be a regulatory attorney specializing in advising regulated utility companies
A wise man once said, “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it.” Pursuing a legal education provided an invaluable opportunity to explore my power and it is been the most rewarding experience of my life."
M. Hamza Habib
Hometown: Islamabad, Pakistan (First generation JD recipient)
Plans after graduation: Dr. Habib is a minimally invasive interventional pain/ palliative medicine physician and Director of Outpatient Pain and Palliative Medicine Service at Rutgers Cancer Institute of NJ. He also serves as faculty at Rutgers RWJ Medical School.
Ultimate goal: Continue with leadership administrative and management roles at the large healthcare systems to improve healthcare delivery in the US.
“My best memories at Rutgers Law include the amazing friendships I developed with my co-students in the part time program. We went through tough exams, COVID, and bar prep together. We were all from very different educational and cultural backgrounds. Also, we had different professional experiences from the past (which is one of the best things for the part time program, since most students are already working and have a professional career.) We shared those wonderful experiences from all different aspects and learned a lot from each other. Also, the faculty was very diverse from multiple professional and academic research backgrounds, which made learning and researching an excellent experience at the law school. I was able to publish a few papers with the American Bar Association Health Law, and with Co-Dean Rose Cuison-Villazor who was very supportive in independent thinking and publishing which was an excellent experience.”
Sophie Kim (RU-N '21)
Hometown: Rutherford, New Jersey
(Sophie is a first generation college student and is the first student accepted to Rutgers Law School through the 3+3 BA/JD program through Rutgers-Newark.)
Plans after graduation: Associate at Lowenstein Sandler in the corporate department
Ultimate goal: Return to academia to teach and, eventually, serve on the bench
"Graduating from Rutgers Law School as a first-generation college graduate and Juris Doctorate feels surreal. The significance of this achievement has not escaped me, as it carries far-reaching implications for my family and the Asian-American legal community. I recognize the privilege and power behind a Juris Doctor degree and intend to “use [my] powers for good.” (quoting Dean Dawkins from Alternative Dispute Resolution course)."
(Rebecca is a first generation JD recipient and is now a graduate of the 3+3 BA/JD program through Rutgers-Camden.)
Plans after graduation:
Ultimate goal: To become
(First generation JD recipient)
Plans after graduation: Associate at Paul Hastings LLP
“The thought of going into the real world after graduating is scary, but so was the thought of starting law school remotely during a pandemic. I find comfort in knowing that I have developed an amazing support system consisting of friends that I have made at Rutgers Law. Furthermore, I recognize that I am in charge of what happens next in my career. Whether it consists of successes, failures, or most likely a mix of both, I have the tools within me necessary to continue working toward being a better version of myself.”
Asia J. Norton
Hometown: Newark, New Jersey
(Asia was selected as student speaker for Rutgers Law's commencement in Newark and selected as a Constitutional Law clerk in South Africa this summer.)
Plans after graduation: Law Clerk for the Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex Vicinage, Honorable Sheila Venable
Ultimate goal: To represent my family and my city and to make them proud
“Graduating from Rutgers Law School - Newark, in the city I was born and raised, is a true testament to the love and respect that has been poured into me by my family and community. I am only two generations removed from the Jim Crow South. My grandparents migrated to Newark to escape the inhumane living conditions for African Americans in the South, and to walk across the stage to receive my jurist doctorate in the city they fled to, represents the continuation of their love, determination, and hope for a better life for their family. Also, graduating from law school represents the strength, determination, and will of the people in the great City of Newark. I am proud to be a Newarker just as much as I am proud to be my grandparents' granddaughter and graduating from Rutgers Law School - Newark symbolizes all that has been given to me by my family and community.”
Click here to read more about Asia
Hometown: Hopatcong, New Jersey
(Danielle is a first generation college student who completed her undergraduate and graduate education while raising her daughter as a single parent.)
Plans after graduation: Join the business litigation group of Faegre, Drinker, Biddle & Reath LLP
Ultimate goal: I hope to clerk with the New Jersey district court after working at Faegre for a few years.There is so much we can do as lawyers, so I’m keeping my long-term goals broad.
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude: for the professors who’ve encouraged me to think more critically, for my classmates who’ve become close friends, and for the entire Rutgers Law experience as it allowed me to continue to grow as a person. It’s sad to think this chapter of my life will be closing soon! At the same time, I am so excited for what the future holds and know the best is yet to come for both myself and my fellow graduates.”