“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” While this proverb has accompanied TED talks and presidential speeches alike, I only began to understand the wisdom behind this saying after joining the Minority Student Program at Rutgers Law School.
Statistically, there has been a dearth of diverse individuals in the legal field. So perhaps it is no surprise that law students of diverse backgrounds, more often than not, lack legal professionals within their social networks from which to get advice and support. I think the idea of law school can bring out imagery of a tough and isolated place – a place where you may be cold called without a moment’s notice and where your fellow students are also your main competition. As a diverse student myself, this solitary feeling was only compounded by the fact that no one in my immediate circle had shared the same experience.
When I was applying to Rutgers Law School, I jumped at the opportunity to join the Minority Student Program (MSP). MSP in Camden continues a long-standing tradition started in our Newark location to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal community.
As a member of MSP, I have not only made life-long friends but also gained mentors and professional connections who have been instrumental to my success in my first year of law school. For example, as a Jump Start student in the summer, I was paired with an upperclassman mentor who provided crucial insight on transitioning into law school and thinking like a law student. Most importantly, however, through opportunities provided by MSP, I was continually reminded of what success can look like for people with similar backgrounds to my own.
At the heart of the program in Camden is Assitant Dean Rhasheda Douglas, who is also a Rutgers Law School graduate. During the Fall semester, Rhasheda coordinated several visits to local law firms and even organized a trip to meet with members of Comcast’s legal department in Philadelphia. When talking with some of Comcast’s attorneys, I started thinking that getting a job like that is not as unattainable as I originally thought.
More recently, Rhasheda organized mock interviews to help us prepare for the summer job application season. Consequently, these mock interviews were scheduled a week ahead of interviews for a diversity fellowship for which I and other MSP students were interviewing. The confidence and advice we got from the practice proved nothing less than invaluable when the Rutgers students convened in the building of Dechert LLP ahead of our interviews.
The goal of the Minority Student Program at Rutgers is, in other words, to not only level the playing field but to raise the bar for all. As a Rutgers Law School student and as a member of MSP, I look forward to promoting the goals of the program and paying the lessons that I have learned forward. After all, if we want to go far, we must go together.