A diversity of perspectives enhances the Law School's classroom conversation and fosters shared values of tolerance, respect and mutual support.
Teamwork, cooperation, respect for different points of view, skilled communication and an understanding of varied perspectives and experiences are all an integral part of a profession that serves an increasingly diverse society. Related Student Organizations
Krista Alford '18
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Education: Conservation biology degree, Brigham Young University
What does diversity mean to you? To me, diversity means going against the grain. It means breaking down barriers and expectations in a way that leads to increased opportunities and learning for everyone.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… I felt comfortable going to my professor’s office to vent about career decisions. The professors at UVA are interested in more than just their research. They genuinely care about their students, and it has been a wonderful experience forming relationships with some of my professors during this past year.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Visit Charlottesville before making your decision about where to attend law school. I quickly fell in love with the town, the school and the atmosphere. Coming to Charlottesville during the admitted students weekend is a wonderful way to find out if UVA is the right fit for you.
The community spirit: I have never met a group of students that enjoy law school more than the students here at UVA, and I have never encountered more loyal alumni. Being a part of the UVA community is priceless, both in terms of creating lasting friendships and in becoming a part of a network that will support you during the course of your career.
Lena Al-Marzoog '17
Hometown: Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
Education: B.S., Georgetown University
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity means moving beyond a superficial tolerance of people of different races, religions, genders and ethnic groups. Diversity is not a statistic or a specific list of boxes to check. It requires that differences not only be accepted but also be appreciated, respected and celebrated.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when... Professors asked me for my opinion. It always amazes me when these distinguished, brilliant professors are interested in what I have to say. The faculty at UVA do a very good job of welcoming opinions and discussions. They are also always open to meeting students formally or informally. I have had multiple opportunities to get to know professors outside the classroom, which has allowed me to really feel part of the UVA community.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Think about where you want to live for the three years of law school and the kind of environment you want to be around. Law school is tough, but it is a lot less stressful if you are surrounded by people you like. After all, law school is not just about academics! If you have the opportunity to visit, I would definitely recommend doing so. Otherwise, contact a student at UVA and ask them about their experiences. You can get a better sense of the school if you are able to speak to someone about it.
The community spirit: I was at a firm networking event speaking to a potential employer and someone from my section joined the conversation. We were applying for the same job but instead of speaking about himself, he raved about me to the employer. The students at UVA genuinely want others to do well, and this community spirit is reflected even in an environment that is supposed to be competitive.
Nel-Sylvia Guzman '18
Hometown: Virginia Beach
Education: B.A. in political science, West Virginia University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Black Law Students Association, vice president; Black Law Students Association Mock Trial Team; Virginia Sports Law Society, vice president; Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, assistant programs editor; Virginia Law Ambassadors; Virginia Innocence Project Pro Bono Clinic
What does diversity mean to you?: Diversity means to me that you can sit in a class that touches on very political issues with people who have different backgrounds and experiences, and the conversation is held in a mature and scholarly manner. Everyone has a different story that helps shape the way they think and their ideals. Yet in class these different ideas and opinions can be stated and debated, but when class is done no one feels anything against those who have a difference of opinions from them.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when: My voice has been heard through my pro bono work here at UVA Law. My group was six 1Ls and one 3L leader. The experience of doing pro bono gives you the opportunity to do hands-on work and learn how to practically apply aspects of the law, often before you completely learn the concept in your first-year courses. My opinion on matters related to the case and ideas on the direction we should head were given equal weight to anyone else’s ideas. Being on a pro bono project helps you find your voice early in law school, and I highly recommend it to anyone.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Apply! And then visit! I wasn’t sure if UVA was going to be a fit for me, which is why I almost didn’t apply. I did and I was accepted, but I was still skeptical if I would fit in at UVA. I came to visit and fell in love with the school. You come to UVA and enter into a big family, you have a community that greatly supports you, and that’s what I was looking for in a law school. It may seem like a tagline they use, but when you come to visit, you see that it is truly a collegial and happy atmosphere here.
The community spirit: My first semester our small section professor hosted a Halloween party at his house. Our PA, who had him as a 1L, told us that he liked how some people in her section had dressed up as characters from the cases we read. Word spread through my section and we ran with it. We made a spreadsheet of possible characters and costume ideas, and people signed up for who they were going to be. We got to his party and everyone in my section that came was dressed as someone from one of our contracts cases. We all had a great time and our professor seemed to enjoy the thought we put into our costumes.
Kirsten Jackson '18
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Education: B.A. in political science, B.A. in international commerce, University of Kentucky
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Peer Advisor; Black Law Students Association, social action chair; Admitted Students Open House Cabinet, co-chair; Black Graduate and Professional Students Organization, treasurer
What does diversity mean to you? For me, it’s a journey of personal enrichment. I constantly find myself in situations where I am challenged by someone with a different perspective, and these opportunities provide a chance to re-assess who I am and what I believe. I’ve changed my mind, I’ve been wrong, I’ve stood my ground all in an effort to love and learn from people different than me. Diversity is a lifelong mission to be a better human, to make valuable contributions to my family, friends and community
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… I served as a co-chair for the Admitted Students Open House. I had the opportunity to speak with prospective students and share my experience here at UVA.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Charlottesville has so much to offer, take advantage of it.
Hyun Jung '18
Hometown: Seoul, Korea, and Ridgewood, New Jersey
Education: B.S., New York University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Virginia Law Veterans, Korean American Law Student Association, Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Law Christian Fellowship, U.S. Army Reserve
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is when one is judged by his or her character rather than by characteristics. It's a sense of respect that stems from recognizing that people are different. All have different ways to contribute to the common and most pressing issues of our time.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when... Working with fellow students in student organizations and interacting with professors outside the classroom. I loved reaching out to the professors in the field I'm interested in to hear their perspective and advice. They really care about your long-term career and ambition. Just by reaching out and chatting with them, I learned something about long-term careers and life in general, beyond the day-to-day academics.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: One of the factors that drew me to UVA was its military-friendly environment. Moreover, with the JAG School right next door and various support organizations throughout the community, I felt like Charlottesville was the right community for my family. I encourage prospective students to really think about what type of community and environment they'd like to be part of for the next three years. Also, I find it very fulfilling to engage with and contribute to the community here, whether through military, charitable or religious organizations.
The community spirit: There's something for everyone. Since my wife is also from Korea, we were able to make a solid group of friends through the Korean American Law Student Association. Also, it was very cool to get to know the veterans or those going into JAG after law school. I met some great folks through Law Christian Fellowship. They all have different backgrounds and stories to tell.
Charis Redmond '17
Hometown: Prince George's County, Maryland (D.C. metro area)
Education: George Washington University
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity means that differences are acknowledged, accepted and not only respected, but sought to be understood and learned from for the enrichment of a community or group. I think that in true embodiment of the spirit of diversity, we not only have to accept differences among individuals, but the differences between those differences. A truly diverse community is one that can not only accept me, but be aware of the nuances between my needs and experiences as a woman and my needs and experiences as a black American. Diversity causes those around me to positively interact with me and others like me, all the while teaching them to understand my experiences and views as those of an equal human being, but also different from those of another minority group.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when... I dropped by my Civil Procedure professor's office (out of office hours) to vent about a non-class related issue. I just needed someone to listen, and he stopped what he was doing to do just that. He didn't give me a hard time, but went beyond his job description to give me the support and advice I needed to get my head back in the game.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Be prepared to be a part of a strong and active community. I didn't realize just how involved I would be when I chose UVA. I heard that law school was tough, and I was kind of scared into this general belief that reading alone in a corner all day would be the best way to survive. I had a plan for success that included me, my books and minimal social interaction. I quickly learned how unreasonable and unnecessary that method was at UVA. If you're the kind of person who likes to be constantly a team of one, UVA will definitely push those boundaries. If you're not comfortable with or used to constantly interacting with people, mentally prepare yourself now to get out of your comfort zone, collaborate and build new relationships. Yes, you will need to focus on your grades, but you need to open to the idea that, especially in the first month, your section will probably do something like go to a Peer Advisor's house for dinner or plan an elaborate dance routine and you'll be fully expected to participate.
The community spirit: I was cold-called in my first class, on my first day of law school. Before class, I was talking to my section-mates about how we were all nervous and unsure of what to expect of our professor (who had a very intimidating reputation). During my cold call, I was skimming the textbook to check my responses to a handful of rapid-fire questions. At one point, as I was hesitating on my answer, I looked down at my book for help. My section-mate next to me already had reached over and put his finger on a line that supported my response which helped me be able to more quickly quote the text. That is an amazing relief to have in the first few days of class when you're still unsure of yourself and how to master the material. It is also evidence of the fact that UVA doesn't fit into the cutthroat stereotype that you're warned about when looking at other law schools. You're fully supported by your section, your professors, Peer Advisors, etc. from day one.
Gannam Rifkah '17
Hometown: Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania
Education: B.A. in political science and history, Duquesne University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Virginia Journal of International Law, Virginia Law Ambassadors, Lambda Law Alliance, Tri-Sector Leadership Program Fellow, and the Virginia Employment and Labor Law Association
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity to me is not about “not seeing color.” In fact, it is the complete opposite. Diversity is realizing that everyone is different and that is a great thing. Who an individual is shapes their life experience; because someone has a certain skin color, is LGBT, served in the armed forces, or practices a particular religion means that he or she offers a unique perspective I have never experienced. As such, diversity offers an opportunity for enrichment, exploring this difference and growing as individual. Without diversity this is lost.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when... I work closely with the Admissions Office. I feel like my voice is heard every time I talk to Grace Cleveland or Cordel Faulk. Whether they are asking me for advice, sending a prospective student my way, or just asking me how I am doing, I always know that they genuinely appreciate what I have to say.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Do it. When it gets to a certain tier of schools, the academic and professional differences involve splitting hairs. However, the difference in culture and collegiality can measure leaps and bounds. Here, I think UVA wins by a mile. This extends to professors, who ask about your future plans and favorite football team during office hours, and classmates, who notice your absence in class on their own and send you notes before you even ask. I’ll never forget when classmates would finish their interviews during OGIs and wish me good luck as I entered — into the room they just left! Besides “do it,” I would advise visiting the school to experience it firsthand.
The community spirit: I am a very absent-minded person. I leave and forget things everywhere. In literally my first week of school at UVA, I left my keys in my locker — and I don’t mean inside my locker, I mean still in the keyhole. Fifteen minutes into my Contracts class I had three texts from friends: two telling me about my keys being in my locker and a third from a closer friend letting me know that he took it and had it for me. This has happened so many more times: ID in the cafeteria, Beats headphones in a classroom and wallet on the floor. Every time I either receive a message from a fellow student or the item is left in its place. The famed honor code here is real.
Scott Shermetaro '18
Hometown: Rochester Hills, Michigan
Education: B.S.E in mechanical engineering, Oakland University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Lambda Law Alliance, chair; Peer Advisor; Virginia Law & Business Review; Entrepreneurial Society, secretary; Volunteer Income Tax Association; Virginia Society of Law and Technology
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is about moving past tolerance and towards acceptance. A truly diverse community is one that embraces each of the unique differences that an individual brings to the table.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when... I became an executive board member of Lambda Law Alliance within a few weeks of starting classes. Right from the start, I was able to plan a large LGBT mixer with students from all of the different graduate programs in order to celebrate C’ville Pride. The event was such a success that we continued to host graduate school mixers throughout the rest of the year. It was our way of embracing all of the students that were spread across Grounds.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: UVA Law offers a large assortment of student organizations that provide a chance to foster leadership potential, insight into various career paths and ways to give back to the community through volunteer opportunities. You will learn an incredible amount about the law in the classroom, but you can learn even more about yourself and your classmates through extracurricular involvement. I would strongly encourage everyone to dabble in it all and figure out the best way for you to make your own mark here at UVA Law.
The community spirit: It is the most essential ingredient to taking the law school experience from great to exceptional. As an extreme extrovert and social butterfly, I knew I needed to join a community where I would be able to thrive off of the energy and excitement of others. The passion that each individual exudes on a daily basis is contagious and is an indispensable perk of attending UVA Law. It is something that I have been able to contribute to, but also immeasurably benefit from.
What I love about Charlottesville: The combination of the weather and easy access to nature is unbeatable. Whether it is a quick run on the trails between events, or a softball game after class, people are always outside taking a refreshing, much-deserved break from the library.
Brette Throckmorton '17
Hometown: Dale, Oklahoma
Education: B.B.A. in economics, University of Oklahoma
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Native American Law Students Association, Peer Advisor Program, Law Christian Fellowship, Virginia Journal of International Law, National Trial Advocacy Team
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is not simply a group of people that have different experiences and characteristics; it is a celebration and appreciation of those differences. It's when we celebrate each other that we form a cohesive, inclusive community that values our differences rather than suppressing them.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when... I spoke with Assistant Dean for Academic Services and Registrar Jason Dugas during enrollment for Spring 2015 because there were only 20 seats available for Native American Law. I thought that there would be more interest than that in the course, especially because we (NALSA) were encouraging students to take the course to learn more about the current status of Native American tribes. He more than doubled the class capacity, and it was nearly full. It was my favorite class of law school and I believe other students that took the class would say the same, despite not having any background in the subject before this semester.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Come to UVA! I think that law school is going to be challenging regardless of where you attend and that you will grow as a person, student and lawyer during your three years of legal education, wherever that is. I believe what sets UVA apart is that there is no other place where you can receive the highest quality of education while simultaneously enjoying your life. It's important to remember that law school is not a three-year hiatus from your life; it is three years of your life and you should spend it where you will receive the best education and be the happiest. Besides, where else can you spend your study breaks hiking through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains?
The community spirit: I am undeniably a birthday person. I love to celebrate the birthdays of my friends and family, but I also love my own birthday as a chance to tell all the people in my life how thankful I am for their presence. My birthday is in September, and I was dreading spending my first birthday so far from home during 1L. Law school had just begun and I was sure that no one would even know it was my birthday, let alone celebrate it. How wrong I was! My section of 30 and some other friends I had met in a short four weeks of law school threw me a surprise party where we took a break from reading and enjoyed some delicious cake. On top of that, they all wrote me sweet notes knowing that handwritten cards are my favorite gift! That's the community spirit at UVA. We celebrate each other and go out of our way to make sure everyone feels at home in Charlottesville.
Christopher Tutunjian '18
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Education: B.S. in chemical engineering, Stanford University
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity means listening to and engaging with viewpoints and ideas different than our own. When we listen to those who think differently than ourselves, it forces us to think critically about our own beliefs. Diversity allows us to better understand what we believe and why we believe it. It gives us the chance to strengthen our beliefs and even alter them. Through an open marketplace of ideas, diversity enriches our academic experience.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when... My classmates and I took our professors to lunch. Every professor we took to lunch always spent part of our time together asking us how we liked the law school and what we would change about it. They were also eager to hear what we thought of their class and how they could improve their teaching. They all demonstrated that they genuinely cared about our input.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Come visit Charlottesville, and spend time talking to the students here. When I visited UVA for the first time, I immediately fell in love with Charlottesville, and I knew I wanted to spend my next three years here. Visiting the law school and getting a chance to talk with students showed me that UVA had an environment unlike other law schools. UVA gives you the chance to get a quality legal education in a very collegial and friendly atmosphere. I can’t imagine any other top law school in the country having such a strong sense of community amongst its students.
The community spirit: After only knowing each other for nine months, it’s amazing how close everyone in my 1L section has become. Whether it’s playing softball, studying together, going to vineyards or watching college football, we all enjoy spending time with each other. The friendships I made over the last year shaped my 1L experience, and I know these relationships will last a lifetime.
Related Student Organizations
Virginia students have the opportunity to participate in innovative student organizations that bring together students of different racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and religious backgrounds, as well as people of different sexual orientations and political affiliations.
Asian Pacific American Law Students Association
APALSA provides academic and social support to its members and reaches out to the Law School community on issues pertaining to Asian-Americans.
Black Law Students Association
BLSA promotes the welfare of its members through educational, professional, cultural and social programs, while offering a forum for the discussion of issues affecting both the black law student and University communities. The group won National Chapter of the Year at the 2007 BLSA conference.
Feminist Legal Forum
The Feminist Legal Forum is dedicated to advancing feminist discussion and awareness at the Law School and eradicating sexism within the legal profession.
Jewish Law Students Association
JLSA provides cultural, educational and social programming for Jewish law students and serves as a resource for the rest of the Law School.
Korean American Law Student Association
KALSA exists to provide a vibrant social community for current law students, to connect students to a professional career network, and to provide support for other students and student organizations with related interests.
Lambda Law Alliance
Lambda Law Alliance provides a supportive network for sexual minorities and their allies enrolled in the Law School and heightens community awareness about legal issues relevant to sexual minorities.
Latin American Law Organization
LALO is an all-inclusive student group devoted to increasing awareness of legal issues facing Latinos and Latin America.
Law Christian Fellowship
LCF is a nondenominational Christian fellowship committed to presenting Christianity to the Law School and the surrounding Charlottesville community through service, outreach and fellowship.
Native American Law Students Association
NALSA is an all-inclusive student group that increases awareness of legal issues affecting Native American populations and enables students to engage in activities related to Native culture.
Peer Advisor Program
The Peer Advisor Program helps acclimate first-year students to the law school experience and provides friendship and support throughout law school.
Rex. E. Lee Law Society
The Rex E. Lee Law Society supports members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) who are studying or interested in studying law at the University of Virginia.
South Asian Law Student Association
SALSA promotes the welfare of its members through educational, professional, cultural and social programs.
St. Thomas More Society
The St. Thomas More Society fosters high ethical principles in the legal profession and in the community of Catholic lawyers.
Virginia Law Families
Virginia Law Families supports and promotes the interests of students facing the challenges of attending law school while raising children.
Virginia Law Veterans
Virginia Law Veterans serves as an information resource on veterans’ issues and national security and international law and policy topics. The organization sponsors events that support the school’s military community.
Virginia Law Women
Virginia Law Women is dedicated to addressing issues that interest, concern and affect women in law school.