Tamara Austin joined Rutgers Law as the Director of MSP at our Camden location, where she will work with Assistant Dean of MSP Rhasheda Douglas. She brings with her a range of experiences, including working in wellness and belonging roles at institutions such as the University of California and Penn State with undergraduate, graduate, and professional-level students.
We sat down with Austin for a Q&A introduction for the Rutgers Law community.
Welcome to Rutgers Law! What excites you about your role as Director of MSP?
I am looking forward to working with students as they claim their space here at the law school and out in the world. My mantra is “well behaved women rarely make history.” I want to assist students as they develop their personal empowerment and create their legacies.
What drew you to work with MSP at Rutgers Law?
I am drawn by the history of the program and the evolution that is on the horizon for the program. It takes forward-thinking and bravery to create programming that addresses historical marginalization on both the local and national level.
What will you be working on?
In addition to providing support to the core MSP program components of academic support, mentoring, and summer internship assistance, I have a few initiatives I will be spearheading. One is the Sister Circle, which are spaces where Womxn of common diasporas can meet and have conversations about issues that are directly affecting them and then work with each other to discuss navigating obstacles or celebrating identities. Beginning in January we will be hosting in Camden both a Latina (led by one of our alumna) and an African Sister circle. I will also be hosting a “Real Talk “ Series, which will invite students, faculty, and staff to talk about what is important to them and why. This will be a space where candid conversation can be had and we can learn from each other.
How has your past experience prepared you for this role?
I have spent my career involved in wellness and belonging roles with undergraduate, graduate, and professional-level students. I know from experience how energizing it can be to know that there is someone vested in your success. I know that academic studies can be challenging. My goal is to help students get over, under and through barriers and challenges that may be holding them back or keeping them from being their best selves.
What is the most rewarding part of working with students?
I am most rewarded when a student accomplishes what they set out to do. When they create that life for themselves that they wanted. When they know just how terrific they are and can roar!
You have been living on the West Coast for some time, what's it like being back?
I have to say that after living on the west coast for so long, getting used to the weather is a challenge. I am happy to be able to have soft pretzels whenever I want. I am also happy to be geographically close to my immediate family.
What advice do you have for law students today?
I advise students to stay the course with help. I would remind students that they can claim their space here and use that energy to claim their space in the world. This endeavor is not easy. It is rewarding. You are becoming professional advocates. You are changing lives. You are service professionals. What a noble profession.
What’s one interesting thing about you that we didn’t cover?
I love to bake. It is my de-stress activity. I bake and give away a lot of sweet treats every week. There are always cakes, cookies, and candy in my house. I believe that bacon goes with everything. That is why I also go to the gym every day.