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
Sijia Xiang '16
Hometown: Hunan, China, and Queens, New York
Education: B.A. in political science and economics, City University of New York, Baruch College
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Asian Pacific Law Student Association, Women of Color, Virginia Law & Business Review
What does diversity mean to you? To me, diversity is about bringing together different perspectives and opinions so that we can learn from each other and see issues from different viewpoints. Diversity is not about how a person looks on the outside but about their experiences. Diversity is at its best when we all appreciate each other as individuals and find the values we have in common while appreciating our different experiences and backgrounds.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… working with my colleagues in various student organizations to plan and organize student events like study sessions, social mixers and career panels. As a 1L, I planned the APALSA Career Networking Night and invited a panel of alumni to address the unique challenges faced by Asian-American attorneys in the legal field.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: UVA Law offers a great combination of academic excellence and fun. People here know the importance of doing well academically, getting involved with worthy causes, and just relaxing after the inevitable stressful periods of studying. You will also find a generous and supportive community. From professors to classmates, everyone is ready to extend a helping hand. Law school will invariably involve a good deal of mental and physical stress. Being in an environment where your peers are understanding and collaborative makes it definitely worthwhile.
The community spirit: There were a few students in our 1L section, including me and some exchange students from Australia, who were not able to go home for Thanksgiving. One of our sectionmates invited us to her apartment, where her family treated us to an authentic Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, and mac-and-cheese with pineapple! It was one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I have had in my life. The food was out of this world delicious and everyone truly felt at home.
Tanner Camp '16
Hometown: Orem, Utah
Education: B.A. in political science and Russian, Brigham Young University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Virginia Journal of International Law, Rex E. Lee Law Society, Human Rights Study Project, National Trial Advocacy Team, Peer Advisor
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is more than simply surrounding yourself with people of different races, ethnicities, religions, genders and backgrounds. It is more than listening to people who espouse different ideas in order to understand those views from an academic standpoint. Rather, diversity is embracing these differences and letting them positively influence the way we think, interact and live. It is learning to see the world from various viewpoints and, to the extent possible, placing ourselves in the shoes of others whose life experiences differ from our own.
My voice at UVA is heard when… I interact with professors both inside and outside of the classroom. One of the things that I have enjoyed most about UVA Law is getting to know professors and working with them on both an academic and professional level. Professors at UVA treat me like an actual person, not just another grade to give. They care about my interests, hobbies and ambitions, and they work actively to help me realize my potential as a law student. Although they are extremely busy, professors always make time to meet with me, whether it is to discuss questions from class, job prospects or life in general. One professor even gave my wife and me a baby gift after the birth of our first child. It is this kind of personal gesture that demonstrates that when I talk, my professors are truly listening.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Come here! The best way to determine whether UVA is the right place for you is to come to Charlottesville and experience it for yourself. In fact, it wasn’t until I attended Admitted Students Weekend that I realized just how much UVA/Charlottesville had to offer. UVA provides the unique opportunity to receive a top-notch legal education in a collaborative, uplifting environment. I will admit that when considering UVA, I thought the “collegial culture” point was a bit overplayed, but it has definitely proven true. Law school is hard enough, and I can’t imagine going through it at a place that didn’t value meaningful relationships and student involvement like UVA.
The community spirit: My wife and I had our first baby four days before my first final of 1L year. I know — great timing. About a month before the baby was born, a friend from my section invited us over for dinner. When we arrived at his apartment, we were shocked to find my whole section had gathered at the apartment to throw my wife a surprise baby shower. Everyone had pitched in to provide food, gifts and even a sign-up sheet for future babysitting. To say that my wife and I were humbled and truly grateful would be an understatement. There we were, over 2,000 miles away from our families, and my wife and I felt completely at home. The members of my section went out of their ways to take us in and provide the support that is so desperately needed during times of great change. I will never forget that experience and the people that made it happen.
Zachary Ray '16
Hometown: Huntingtown, Maryland
Education: B.A., criminology and criminal justice, University of Maryland; Master of Criminal Justice, Boston University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Black Law Students Association, president; BLSA International Service Trip; UVA Sports and Entertainment Law Journal; Student-Life Panel (for prospective student visits)
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity happens when your professor asks the class to solve a problem and each student is confident enough to speak up with a novel, yet correct answer. Diversity means overcoming hurdles with unique innovation. The fact that no two people in the class have the same appearance or experiences is just an added bonus.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when... I work closely with both the Admissions Office and with Career Services. My voice is heard whenever I speak to Cordel Faulk or Patrice Hayden. When I asked to be more involved with recruiting incoming students, Dean Faulk set up lunches and put me in contact with prospective students. When I need to reach out to employers or just need personal guidance, Patrice's door is always open. Not only do they hear me, Patrice and Dean Faulk make things happen.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: For those considering applying: Come visit! UVA Law is about making sure the most dynamic students fit with the culture. UVA is about honor, it is about working hard and playing hard. Maintaining that culture seems just as important as maintaining its ranking. You're already smart. Go the extra mile and show that you would be a great fit here. But being a good fit doesn't mean that you have to be a cookie-cutter law school applicant. Emphasize your differences, not just your similarities. Be unapologetically yourself.
For those considering attending: Come visit! If you can't visit, make a phone call. Talk to as many people as you can until you can answer the following questions: Can I be happy here, and can I be successful here? Law school is an ongoing hustle. If you feel supported by this administration and think you can have genuine connections with them and the students, you will probably be happy and successful here. This part of your decision is not the most empirical. Go with your gut.
The community spirit: Some days after classes end, I pick an empty classroom to start studying. Ms. Jean is one of the staff members that picks up the trash we leave behind, pushes in all the chairs, and wipes down the chalkboards so each classroom is clean and orderly in the morning. She treats me like family. Whenever I am working late at night, Ms. Jean stops by to give me some encouraging words and a hug. Whichever classroom I chose to study in, Ms. Jean decides to clean that one last so I have more time to work. She may fly under the radar for a lot of law students, but Ms. Jean is one of my favorite people in this world. The community spirit is not something that you witness once or twice. Rather, it is the ongoing accumulation of smiles, laughs and connections with people you would least expect.
Amy Herrera '15
Hometown: Quito, Ecuador, and South Orange, New Jersey
Education: B.A., City University of New York, Baruch College
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Human Rights Study Project, Hunton and Williams Pro Bono Project, Latin American Law Students Organization, UVA Law in DC Externship Program, Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Women of Color
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is not just the presence of people of all different backgrounds and experiences but the incorporation of all of those experiences into a cohesive, united community.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when... I was able to do a semester externship at the Tahirih Justice Center and develop my advocacy skills while helping others.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: I think all students should get involved with pro bono projects as soon as possible. Pro bono work gives you valuable practical skills that will help your career and give back to the community at large. I would especially advise minority students to become active in diversity organizations such as LALO, APALSA and BLSA for mentorship and support.
The community spirit: Every year during the reading period before exams, the library staff stays late and makes grilled cheese sandwiches for the students in the library. It is so touching how they go out of their way to show their support for us.
Samuel Richman '16
Hometown: Foster City, California
Education: B.A. in English, University of California at Berkeley
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Virginia Tax Review, Lambda Law Alliance, Peer Advisor, Feminist Legal Forum, The Libel Show
What does diversity mean to you? Understanding that the world is much more complicated than a set of stereotypes, that members of a community are individuals in their own right and that their opinions and actions are not defined by and do not define an entire group.
My voice was heard when… I joined Lambda Law Alliance. I was able and encouraged to take an active role as a board member from the start of my 1L year. Through Lambda, so far I have been able to bring in free HIV testing to the Law School, sponsor speakers on the state of transgender rights in the United States, and attend a meeting of the National LGBT Bar Association in New York, among many other activities.
Advice for those considering applying: Visit Charlottesville. Talk to the students and faculty here. Law school is about more than just the study of law. You are building a network that you will carry with you throughout your career. Ask yourself: are these the people that I want to call my friends and colleagues for the rest of my life?
The community spirit: Although I have many amazing friends at UVA, my small section and I share a special bond. After only a year of knowing each other, I can already count many of them as some of my best friends. Although this might sound a little odd, this is by no means the exception at UVA. I was at a convention in New York City for the annual meeting of the National LGBT Bar Association when I ran into a UVA Law alumnus and invited him to the annual dinner party held by UVA for LGBT alumni. At the dinner party, he immediately recognized a fellow alumnus from his 1L small section over 30 years ago. It was as if no time had passed; the two spent the rest of the evening laughing and reminiscing in stories from law school.
Charis Redmond '17
Hometown: Prince George's County, Maryland (D.C. metro area)
Education: George Washington University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: BLSA, Virginia Law Women, Street Law, JustChildren Pro Bono Project
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.
Jad Khazem '16Hometown: Boca Raton, Florida
Education: B.A., Florida Atlantic University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Virginia Law Review, Magna Carta Directed Research Project, Legal Advisory Workshop for Undergraduate Students, Migrant Farmworker Project, Barristers United Soccer Team
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is the art of thinking independently, together. Because of our unique backgrounds and experiences, each of us possesses a special approach to pursuing common human goals such as happiness and dignity. Diversity is at its best when we respect – and learn from – each others’ unique experiences and approaches to life.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when... I served as my Legal Research and Writing section’s advocate for in-class appellate oral arguments. More generally, I appreciate that my voice is heard at UVA Law whenever I advocate my positions in class, in my research, or in connection with volunteer projects.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: By all means, go for it! Obviously, it is best practice to speak with alumni, attend admission panel events, and conduct research as you consider UVA Law and various other schools. Of course, at the end of that process, you are certain to find that UVA Law has the ideal combination of a top academic program, a warm and collegial environment, and a backdrop of natural beauty.
The community spirit: There are countless examples of community spirit and collegiality throughout the law school — and throughout the university as a whole for that matter. Indeed, carpool rides with classmates and faculty to the U.S. Supreme Court, trips with volunteers to migrant farmworker camps, and mountain-trail hikes and soccer matches with friends all come to mind. It is a privilege to be a part of the Cavalier community!
Sejal Jhaveri '15
Hometown: West Orange, New Jersey
Education: A.B., Brown University; MAT, Johns Hopkins University School of Education
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Public Interest Law Association, Law and Public Service Program, Virginia Law Democrats, Human Rights Study Project, Virginia Journal of International Law, Virginia Law Review
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is appreciating and trying to understand everyone's different experiences and viewpoints. It's not static, but an ever-changing pursuit of valuing and recognizing our differences while seeing our common humanity.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when... Numerous times when professors have genuinely asked me about my thoughts on their classes and my thoughts on the law school as a whole. The faculty strives to make sure that students feel like they have control over their education and that their input is valued.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Engage with the Law School community. UVA Law is an amazing community and I have learned a lot both about the law and myself while being here. The rich and meaningful opportunities available outside of class have made my time at UVA an experience that I could not have gotten anywhere else.
The community spirit: The community spirit was very evident when I went to my first PILA Auction as a 1L. The entire school came out to help fundraise for summer grants for students who are doing public interest work. The UVA community is varied in its goals but united in its support for one another.
Jonathan Amgott '15
Hometown: Melbourne, Florida
Education: A.B., Duke University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Virginia Journal of International Law, editor-in-chief; St. Thomas More Society, president; Lile Moot Court Competition, 2L and 3L years; Extramural Moot Court Team, 1L year; Law & Public Service Program; Public Interest Law Association, 1L Representative
What does diversity mean to you? Recognizing diverse viewpoints has two benefits, which I understand in the context of my own experience. First, my Catholic faith is stronger due to the religious differences among my family and friends. It is in contrast with others’ perspectives that I have come to understand my own beliefs and to build a stronger relationship with God. At the same time, I value the opportunity to walk with those of other perspectives, which has helped to build some beautiful relationships.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when... The St. Thomas More Society teamed up with several other campus organizations to host a panel discussion as the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Hobby Lobby. I invited professors with whom I had taken a class, worked as a research assistant, or developed a mentoring relationship. Each is an expert in First Amendment issues, and each has differing opinions on the merits, as did the sponsoring organizations. Nevertheless, all of these professors were excited to participate, and they spoke to a standing room–only crowd of students eager to learn constitutional law from the best.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Ask yourself which students you would like to live and work with for the next three years. I knew some of the student organizations that would be important to me in law school, so I reached out to students in those groups as I considered UVA. Within hours, all three students had replied to me, either by email or phone. This eager outreach and support was replicated from Day Zero at UVA when my Peer Advisors went to great lengths to help us 1Ls adjust to the law school endeavor. They did so not only during orientation but for the months that followed. These are students with whom I am thankful to live and work.
The community spirit: It's hard to beat UVA Law softball for an example of the spirit here. I am not much of a softball player, but that's never been too important. We head to the field, enjoy each other's company outside of the books, and get a little exercise besides. And, of course, we just might win!
Danit Carrier Tal '15
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York, and Yorktown, Virginia
Education: B.A., College of William & Mary, political science and history
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Raven Society; Virginia Law Women, president; Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, president and founder, UVA chapter; Jewish law Student Association, president; Student Legal Forum, vice president; Tri-Sector Leader Program Fellow; Student Ambassador/tour guide; Journal of Social Policy and the Law
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity to me means being exposed to many different perspectives, from people with backgrounds dissimilar to my own. I come from a diverse background and family: My relatives come from the coal mines of West Virginia and also from Israel. I grew up meeting people from all over the world as a result. Being exposed to new and different cultures my entire life broadened my understanding of people and the world around me, and taught me not to judge others. This is diversity to me. I think it's critical to hear perspectives that are different from our own in order to challenge and question our own assumptions.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… My voice is heard through the leadership positions I have pursued at the Law School. I am able to influence the programming for numerous student organizations through the speakers we bring to the Law School, the kinds of events we put on, and the panels we put together. I appreciate the autonomy student leaders are given to pursue programming for their membership and the ability we have to provide helpful and useful programming for our members. Specifically, as president of Virginia Law Women, I have been able to participate in our mentor-mentee program, forge bonds and friendships with my professors, and bring influential female judges and practitioners to the law school to speak.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: I knew UVA was the right place for me when I visited and everyone I met smiled and seemed happy, and promised me that UVA was the best place to get a legal education. They were right! UVA Law is a unique place, where you can pursue a top-notch legal education, but also form friendships and relationships that will last you a lifetime. In addition to becoming friends with my classmates, I have been fortunate enough to get to know many administrators and professors whom I know I will keep in touch with long after graduation. If you are interested in studying at a place where you are learning not only from top scholars, but from people who genuinely care about their students, UVA is the right place for you.
The community spirit: I see the community spirit at UVA every day, when I pass smiling professors in the hall and they stop to ask me how my day is going, when I see students out to lunch with their professors, and when I see students outside playing softball in between classes. I constantly lean on professors and administrators for advice, and for support of the student organizations I am involved in. They are all too willing to help and share their advice, stories, and time with me and members of my organizations. They are committed to the students here and care deeply about each and every one of us. Recently, I had dinner with some administrators and board members of one of the student organizations I am involved in. The administrators took an entire evening of their time to talk to us and learn about what they might improve upon, and what kinds of services they could provide to make our student lives better. Their genuine care and concern was evident, and I was so touched by how much they cared about students and how dedicated they were to their jobs.
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.
APALSA provides academic and social support to its members and reaches out to the Law School community on issues pertaining to Asian-Americans.
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.
The Feminist Legal Forum is dedicated to advancing feminist discussion and awareness at the Law School and eradicating sexism within the legal profession.
JLSA provides cultural, educational and social programming for Jewish law students and serves as a resource for the rest of the Law School.
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 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.
LALO is an all-inclusive student group devoted to increasing awareness of legal issues facing Latinos and Latin America.
LCF is a nondenominational Christian fellowship committed to presenting Christianity to the Law School and the surrounding Charlottesville community through service, outreach and fellowship.
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.
The Peer Advisor Program helps acclimate first-year students to the law school experience and provides friendship and support throughout law school.
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.
The St. Thomas More Society fosters high ethical principles in the legal profession and in the community of Catholic lawyers.
Virginia Law Families supports and promotes the interests of students facing the challenges of attending law school while raising children.
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 is dedicated to addressing issues that interest, concern and affect women in law school.
Women of Color promotes the welfare of the diverse population of women at the Law School through a number of programs.
Many Voices Brochure