At Virginia, a rigorous and academically challenging education is paired with an environment in which all voices are heard and all views shared. 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
Robbie Pomeroy '19
Hometown: Weston, Florida
Education: B.A. in criminology, University of Florida
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Program in Law and Public Service, Latin American Law Organization, Student Bar Association, Lambda Law Alliance, Peer Advisor, The Libel Show, A Cappellate Opinions, Virginia Law Review, Virginia Innocence project, Legal Aid
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is an exercise in self-awareness. It’s recognizing how your social identities intersect and impact your experiences and perspective. In a community that is committed to diversity, we support each other and have an opportunity to have open dialogue to learn from each other.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… I’ve felt that my voice was heard in so many ways while at UVA Law. Through extracurricular groups, I’ve been able to work with others to bring light to issues I care about. For example, I was able to organize an event where we brought a gay Latino attorney to Grounds to talk about his efforts to litigate marriage equality in Central America. As a student who identifies as gay and Latino, I felt really affirmed when my classmates showed up to support and learn. On a more general note, I’ve always felt really supported by my peers and the faculty/staff at the Law School. I remember specifically one time I needed to vent about a non-law school related issue, and one of my favorite professors noticed and took me out to coffee to make sure I was doing well. We have a community that cares.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: If you are considering choosing UVA, my advice is to visit our Grounds and connect with students here. If that isn’t possible, reach out to the Admissions Office so the school can have a student reach out to you! The thing I considered most when choosing a school was how comfortable I felt there and whether it felt like a place I could call home for three years. I found that at UVA, and I think any contact you can make with the community here can help prospective students see that too.
The community spirit: When I was applying to law school, I tried talking to as many alums from different places as possible. I kept hearing that law school was just this hurdle you had to get over to become a lawyer and that it was not enjoyable. But you hear a different story from UVA Law alums. I think it speaks volumes to how much students love their experience at our school, even in their first year. I’ve developed so many amazing friendships, gained invaluable mentors and had some of the most incredible experiences being at UVA Law.
Shruthi Prabhu '19
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Education: B.A in Plan II Honors, minors in microbiology and government, University of Texas at Austin
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: South Asian Law Association, Outdoors and VA Law, Virginia Law Women, Virginia Journal of Law & Technology
What does diversity mean to you? Everyone is different. Diversity should be a path to recognizing that not everyone was raised under the same socioeconomic conditions, in the same types of neighborhoods, and with the same combination of parents, schooling and culture. It allows individuals to grow in an increasingly interconnected world and to learn from those with different, and not necessarily incorrect, views. Understanding diversity makes us stronger as individuals, as lawyers and as a society.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… I became president of the South Asian Law Student Association. Through this role, I worked a great deal with not only my co-board members, but also with the Student Affairs Office. All of my goals were welcomed by everyone involved. Organizing events, both professional and social, allowed me to interact with most of the affinity groups on Grounds, creating programming that we designed together. The school was very encouraging of all the ideas any of us had, and it is always a comfort to know that the community you are in supports you no matter what.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: I took a risk when I first moved to Charlottesville. I didn’t know a single soul, I had never lived in Virginia, and I was the first in my entire ancestry to go into the legal field. I was afraid I had boxed myself into a small town with nothing to do, with people I had never met, and in a profession with which I had zero experience. But UVA Law proved to be one of the best decisions I ever made. The support and kindness that I got here just in the first week of law school set me at ease with my choice. When I went on to find that the city of Charlottesville is anything but a stereotypical small town, I knew I belonged.
The community spirit: When I became an ambassador for the school and began giving tours to prospective students, I came to realize how much I have interacted with many different levels of individuals throughout my time at UVA Law. I have been able to provide advice and input to those looking into beginning their legal careers at school. My peers have become some of my closest, lifelong friends. My professors have always been there as a part of my life, whether it be through academic office hours, or spending time playing racquetball with me at our gym. Staff members have become people with whom I have personal conversations. The community here is not one of a typical school; it is one comprised of friends at every one of those levels.
John Dao '19
Education: B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology, Ursinus College
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Libel Show, Lambda Law Alliance, American Constitution Society, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Virginia Law & Business Review
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is about realizing people’s different life experiences and recognizing their different viewpoints. There is no excuse for the inability to have respectful conversations. Having conversations with people on difficult issues has provided me with personal growth. There were times where my viewpoint changed and times where I drew a line. Diversity is important because it gives people the opportunity to figure out what line they will draw.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… I interacted with faculty and staff members outside of the classroom. I have had conversations with faculty and staff members in the hallways, at restaurants and even in their homes. One of my favorite memories from law school is spending time with classmates around a bonfire at a professor’s house. Faculty and staff members have also been active in student organizations that I have been involved in, including the Lambda Law Alliance and the Libel Show. It has been wonderful to see faculty and staff attend organization meetings and participate in events.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: UVA Law is a place filled with active community members. It isn't really a place where people only go to class and then go home. There are many opportunities to get involved with student organizations and to spend time with the community. For example, the Libel Show is proud to find a role for everyone who auditions. Participants in the Libel Show include people who have had produced their own shows in college and people who have never participated in theater before.
The community spirit: The community spirit remains strong after graduation. When I was on the executive board of the Lambda Law Alliance, I had the pleasure to work with UVA Law alumni in planning events to support our community. We had alumni return to grounds to share their experiences and to prepare us for success in the workplace. Alumni also volunteered to serve as mentors to current students. It is always fun to reminisce about Charlottesville with alumni.
Jansen VanderMeulen '19
Hometown: Burlington, Washington
Education: B.A. in philosophy, B.A. in Spanish, Washington State University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Virginia Law Weekly, Migrant Farmworker Project, Federalist Society, Law Christian Fellowship, West Coast Wahoos
What does diversity mean to you? To me, diversity means having a group of students that represents not only those groups and individuals whose voices are traditionally heard, but also those who are marginalized or come from communities that are too often ignored or forgotten. That means having a mix of students that better represents society at large, and especially those communities that are underrepresented in the nation’s law schools and legal communities.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… I was given the chance to be a UVA Law Ambassador, showing prospective and admitted students and their families around the Law School. I’ve had the chance to tell the story of UVA Law to future denizens of the Law School and their families and — as a rural, first-generation professional student — tell them how UVA Law can become home to people from disparate backgrounds.
Advice for those considering applying to/attending UVA Law: The process of deciding where to go to law school is daunting. The law school search process can make all of them seem the same. My advice for those considering UVA Law: visit. I had my search narrowed down to three when I visited Charlottesville and the Law Grounds. That afternoon, I decided on UVA. The beauty of the Grounds and the school and the visible happiness of the student body made UVA a no-brainer.
Toccara Nelson '19
Education: Bachelor of arts in American culture, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Student Bar Association, Black Law Students Association, Lambda Law Alliance, Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal, Admitted Students Open House co-chair
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity means changing the status quo to create an enriching learning environment for all individuals. Achieving diversity means advocacy, justice and representation for the underrepresented. Achieving diversity means that schools and employers equalize academic and professional opportunities for members of underrepresented communities. And achieving diversity means that the underrepresented have a comfortable and inclusive-enough environment to opt into said opportunities.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… I was a member of various organizations, and we would meet with the dean or other higher-up members of the administration about our organizational needs or ways to enhance the Law School’s climate. I don’t know of any other law school where a 1L or 2L would have the opportunity to meet with their dean, in a setting where the dean would ask “What can I do for you?” I think that is a testament to UVA Law and Dean Risa Goluboff’s administration.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Be prepared for a ride. Law school will push you mentally and emotionally. However, UVA Law does a really great job of de-emphasizing competitiveness. I really appreciate the school’s emphasis on community and kindness. Students, faculty and staff are extremely laid-back. I cannot count the number of times I’ll walk into the Admissions Office just to chat or decompress. Law school is tough, but I truly believe you will find your “riders” in the midst of it. You will gain some of your greatest friends and colleagues at UVA Law.
The community spirit: I experienced a family emergency, which forced me to go home during the first few weeks of 1L. I will never forget how much the UVA Law School community rallied around me during that time. Whether it was cards or sending flowers or taking notes or spending time with me once I returned to school to help me catch up — the community had my back in ways I couldn't imagine, and I am always grateful for that.
Joe Charlet '18
Hometown: Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
Education: B.A. in classical civilization, Yale University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Virginia Journal of International Law, Lambda Law Alliance, Virginia Law Democrats, Virginia Environmental Law Forum, Extramural Moot Court, Black Law Students Association, Volunteer Income Tax Association
What does diversity mean to you? For me, diversity means the chance to learn from the different ideas and experiences of others while also being able to put forth your own ideas and experiences in a respectful manner for others to consider, and celebrating that opportunity. I think this is a good in and of itself, but it was especially helpful in practice for my Appellate Litigation Clinic partner and me while we mooted in preparation for our Title VII retaliation case oral argument. Being able to ask friends who have widely varied outlooks on both the facts and the law of our case due to their philosophical outlooks and life experiences helped us prepare for any questioning that could have come our way. When we actually argued before the Fourth Circuit, we were able to represent our client and convey how the law applied to her experience in a more accessible way because of that preparation, and we won that appeal.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when…I was able to participate in school-wide events where students told their personal stories to help give content and nuance to terms like “privilege” or “class” that affect everyone but seem to often be thought about in one particular way.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: If you are at all able, visit the Law School, and beyond any tours or classroom visits you do, just stop random students in the hall to get their sense of the school. I think the extremely strong community vibe is well-illustrated in how receptive anyone you stop will be to helping you and answering your questions.
The community spirit: I came to UVA law specifically for the community and even I was surprised by how open and welcoming it actually is once you are here. Students, professors and staff all develop meaningful connections beyond just their expected roles, which adds so much to the law school experience, both in terms of future professional prospects and more importantly to the general sense of well-being one has while at the school.
Deitra Jones '18
Education: B.S. in criminal justice, Georgia State University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Black Law Students Association, Street Law, Human Rights Study Project, Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity not only means having the availability to experience an array of perspectives and backgrounds, but also being part of a community that embraces and strives to grow from those differences. It is an environment where differences in opinions, thought processes and trajectories are not only welcome, but encouraged. Diversity isn’t some static ideal that just exists when a room consists of more than one gender and more than one ethnicity; for me, it only truly exists from constant demonstrations of effort, action and respect.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… I feel like my voice was heard whenever I was asked to sit on a panel to talk to current or prospective students, when a professor would show genuine interest in my perspectives and past experiences, and when Dean Risa Goluboff reached out to me and others to hear our opinions about the effects of, and potential remedial steps to be taken, after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Really think about what you are looking for in your law school experience. Is it a collegial experience? Diverse students and professors? Nationwide (or global) connection of alumni? Career prospects? Wide variety of extracurricular options? All of these things, plus more, are what makes UVA Law a place worth applying to, visiting and attending.
If you are having reservations, I can almost guarantee that there are at least a handful of current students and alumni who had the exact same reservations, came here, and now claim it to be one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. So don't be afraid to reach out to people, be candid, and have an open mind.
You can also just check out our graduation music video (LOL).
The community spirit: During my first year of law school, my roommate was venting to me about the rough day she had just had and how difficult it was trying to balance a really demanding schedule. We suddenly got a knock on our apartment door and it was a group of her section-mates who had went out and bought her a basket of goodies and candles. We had just started classes not long ago, so everyone barely knew each other. Even though the gesture was not targeted toward me, it really showed me the type of students that come here and made me glad that I chose UVA Law.
Jenny Kwun '21
Hometown: New York City
Education: B.A. in mathematics, City College of New York
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Co-president of Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, co-president of Virginia Law First-Generation Professionals, events co-chair of Virginia Law Women, Student Bar Association Diversity Advisory Committee, Women of Color
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is just a fact of life for me. I was born in Seoul, South Korea; spent a few years in Los Angeles; and then grew up in New York City, so my life has always been filled with it. Diversity also means bringing all sorts of different perspectives into the mix. Everyone has different experiences, and everyone can benefit from being exposed to, appreciating and learning from these different backgrounds.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… We founded Virginia Law First-Generation Professionals. It’s only recently that first-generation students are being recognized for their own unique backgrounds, and UVA Law now finally has our own first-generation group. There are issues that are unique to the first generation, and we’re starting to spark conversation about it not just among students, but also among the faculty. We also have representation in the SBA Diversity Advisory Committee. The group is just beginning, and I'm looking forward to seeing it grow.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: UVA Law is a unique place that’s different from anywhere else. There is no scarcity of resources, whether they come from fellow students, upperclassmen or the faculty — all you have to do is ask. My advice is don't be scared to ask! Everyone here is not only willing, but happy to make sure that your law school life is some of the best years of your life.
The community spirit: Everyone genuinely cares about your well-being. If I ever missed class, I never had to ask for notes — my section mates offered it to me before I even had a chance to because they noticed I wasn’t there. Throughout the summer and during OGIs, I had upperclassmen and classmates check in on how I was doing, just for the sake of it. My mentors who graduated even still keep tabs on me, and they're sincerely interested in how I’m doing. UVA Law is a place where collegiality isn’t just a slogan that people throw around, but rather a place where it truly is part of the community.
John Ghazoul '21
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Education: B.S. in finance, Barrett the Honors College at Arizona State University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: North Grounds Softball League, Middle Eastern and North African Law Student Association, Peer Advisors, Virginia Law Ambassadors Vice-Chair of Recruitment, Virginia Law & Business Review
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity of not only experiences, but also of thought and opinion, is vital to growth as a student and human being. We are fortunate to have professors and administrators who all recognize the importance of all forms of diversity.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… I currently serve as president of the Middle Eastern and North African Law Student Association, and I feel that the administration genuinely cares about our organization and its place at the Law School. Dean Goluboff has held several meetings with MENA and other affinity groups in an effort to make sure that all of our organizations’ needs are being accommodated.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Every student who has been admitted to UVA Law is clearly a bright student. I recommend continuing your study habits, workout routines, recreational activities, etc. It is also important to not get caught up in what other students are doing, and to realize that your established routines are likely best for you.
The community spirit: It sounds cliché, as most law schools make similar claims, but the community at UVA Law is about as collegial as they come. Everyone sincerely wants their classmates to succeed. Law school is not an easy experience, but you will have a work-life balance at UVA Law. Your classmates will be social, hard-working, and always there for you when you need them.
Kareem Ramadan '20
Hometown: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Education: B.S. in business administration, economics, University of North Carolina
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Virginia Law Review, Virginia Law Middle Eastern and North African Law Student Association, Muslim Law Students Association, Virginia Law Ambassadors, Admissions Student Life panelist
What does diversity mean to you? It means amplifying voices and empathizing with those who are different from us. Diversity is a way to engage with others, to learn and better ourselves and our communities. Ultimately, diversity can help us break down barriers across different subgroups in a productive way.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… I was encouraged to develop a Middle Eastern and North African community. There are about 30 students throughout the Law School with a MENA background who didn’t fit into any affinity group. A professor whom I had never met actually reached out to me to ask how the faculty could better support those students. With his support, along with my fellow classmate Rachael Joseph ’20 and the backing of the Admissions Office, we were able to successfully create a new community within the Law School. The Virginia Law MENA is now a strong affinity group within the school.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Talk to current students. There’s no better way to get a feel for what life looks like at UVA Law. All sorts of people roam the Grounds, and by getting a taste of student life through one-on-one interaction, prospective students can really see what makes UVA Law special — the people. Students are always happy to chat with people considering UVA.
The community spirit: UVA Law has a special something about it. Professors, students, the administration — everyone is invested in making the Law School, and greater Charlottesville community, a place we can call home. From softball and Student Bar Association socials to study groups and finals prep, people here truly care for one another. Even after you leave UVA Law, alumni are always willing to help — whether it be career advice, clerkship connections or casual networking.
Rachel Barnes '21
Education: B.A. in economics, minor in Spanish, University of Georgia
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Student Bar Association, Black Law Students Association, Peer Advisors, Community Fellows, Women of Color, North Grounds Softball League, National Black Law Students Association
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity means ensuring that the individual complexities that make up the world are appropriately reflected in the spaces in which we work and learn.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… I used it. As a member of Community Fellows, our cohort advocated for a resiliency space at the Law School. This year it was put into action with the support of our dedicated Student Affairs team. [The prayer/meditation room, SL 155, is available to students for quiet reflection.]
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Think about the kind of groups from which you will draw the most support and make sure that they 1) are represented at your school of interest; and 2) align with your personal interests and values. Law school can be a very mentally and emotionally challenging place, so it is important that you have the kind of support you will need to be successful.
Jameil Brown '21
Hometown: Leander, Texas
Education: A.B. in public and international affairs, Princeton University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Virginia Law Review, Black Law Students Association, Lambda Law Alliance, Community Fellows, Law Library student staff
What does diversity mean to you? To quote my favorite album, it means a seat at the table. But sheer inclusion only begins the work of diversity. We also have to empower marginalized voices and push them forward to truly be heard and received. It is important that our communities and institutions build a culture where everyone contributes and those contributions are valued. Only then can we build equity in our society.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… As a 1L representative for Lambda Law Alliance, I co-sponsored and helped facilitate a discussion panel with Toccara Nelson ’19, Professor Dayna Matthew ’87, and Professor Kevin Gaines from Main Grounds [JD1] on black queerness and related legal perspectives with BLSA. I firmly believe in the importance of intersectionality on legal analysis, and I was pleased to bring an event focusing on these issues to the Law School. We spoke about disparities, resilience in the community and the impact black queer thinkers have on legal scholarship. UVA Law offers copious opportunities for students to hold events on the issues that matter to them, and I did not waste time taking advantage of that.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Consider the career opportunities your law school affords you. UVA Law students are highly sought after at all of the top law firms and litigation boutiques in the country. Additionally, our Career Development Office is the best in the game. When speaking to friends at peer schools, I am always proud to gloat about the fantastic support we have. The numbers do tell the story of an experienced office that is committed to getting you to your dream employment.
The community spirit: The various affinity groups in the Law School are tight communities- with each other and among themselves. We regularly collaborate with each other on social and educational events and show solidarities when justice is not served in the broader nation and world. I feel most affirmed and most proud of being a “Law Hoo” when any affinity group shines, and this unified strength was a significant factor in my decision to attend UVA Law.
Christina Luk '21
Hometown: San Leandro, California
Education: B.A. in English and East Asian studies, Johns Hopkins University; M.A. in humanities, University of Chicago
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Asian Pacific American Law Students Association; Diversity Advisory Council; Virginia Law Weekly; Law, Innovation, Security & Technology; Student Bar Association; Virginia Journal of International Law
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is an ongoing project to create an environment and community where everyone can thrive. This means more than recognizing and celebrating differences; it means dedicating resources to underrepresented groups so that all students can reach their full potential.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… I ran for Student Bar Association senator and became chair of the Diversity Advisory Council. Diversity at the Law School is something I care passionately about and chairing DAC has given me new insight into how the administration is working to improve it. There is always more to be done, but I’m confident that we’re making headway. It’s heartening how much support I’ve gotten from Student Affairs, Admissions, Career Development and the Dean’s Office.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVA Law: Get involved! You get what you put into your community. Whether it’s club activities or other extracurriculars, find something you are passionate about and get involved. That’s how you’ll meet your best friends.
The community spirit: The first thing that struck me about the Law School when I arrived for orientation is how easy it is to talk with everyone. People here are super open to sharing their experiences and learning from each other. I think that’s what makes us such an engaged community — we care about each other and that shows in the way we interact. Students here are collaborative in their studies. I can’t count the number of times I’ve talked through a tough case with a classmate or had an upperclassman come through with a clutch outline. We help each other out and that makes us better scholars and future attorneys.
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.
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.
Manal Cheema '20
Hometown: Sharon, Massachusetts
Education: B.A. in political science, minor in cognitive sciences, Tufts University
Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Virginia Law Women, Law and Public Service, Minority Rights Coalition, Peer Advisor, Virginia Journal of International Law, Trial Advocacy Team
What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is a step in a long journey toward equity. It is not about having a few shining examples of “diversity.” It demands creating a society and removing the filters so that all walks of life become valued parts in the mosaic of our community. Diversity is not tolerance, but acceptance, inclusion, respect, and understanding of the unique qualities and lived experiences. It is disrupting conformity and becoming aware of the nuances of our intersectional characters. It is where people do not have to speak for others but where voices are represented as their own, and heard.
My voice at UVA Law was heard when… I met with the counselors at the Public Service Center to discuss my career path. The counselors are committed to ensuring that students find a career that marries up nicely to your scheme of values, interests and personality. Every time, I am astounded by the time and effort they take — beyond the job description — to consider my hopes, background and fears in supporting and advising me. With PSC, I feel confident that as I take the next step in my legal career, I will be in a place where I can grow and do right by my profession.
Advice for those considering applying to, or attending, UVALaw: Make your own litmus test of success. You know what drives you to the legal profession: Wear it and live it. Your boundaries will be pushed, but do not let the challenge curve your dreams. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten here at UVA is not to compare your inside with other people’s outside. Imagine that feeling when you’re wearing a sock and it’s slipping off your foot as you’re walking. Outwards, you look seem perfect with those boots, but inside it’s chaos. Comparing your journey to that of others is not fair to you or to them. Sharing your journey, on the other hand, with the UVA community is probably the best decision you’ll make. When you’re on the other end, pass along the goodwill, kindness and generosity shown to you.
The community spirit: Undoubtedly, my favorite part of UVA Law is the community. Every time I interact with my Peer Advisors, section-mates, other students, professors, staff and any person associated with this law school, I feel humbled and at the same time irrevocably welcomed in their presence. The aptitudes presented by this community in valuing people — their voices, experiences and beliefs — are unmatched. I feel honored to grow as a lawyer in this community. The UVA Law community is caring, helpful and full of role models.
"The beauty of Virginia Law is it embraces diversity. The collegial atmosphere of the Law School is warm and welcoming to the many voices and life experiences that make this community strong. That serves students while they are here, and once they venture beyond Grounds."
-CORDEL FAULK '01, Assistant Dean and Chief Admissions Officer
Josephine Biemkpa '16 and Matt Haddadin '16 hold up the 2015 Diversity Pledge, an annual tradition in which students, faculty and staff pledge to honor the values of diversity.
"As a scholar, I have spent much of my career studying the pernicious effects of discrimination, cultural isolation, and political polarization. What I have learned has made me deeply committed to diversity not as some abstract concept but as a way of life. Diversity is crucial for so many reasons: for establishing genuine dialogue across difference, for achieving true equality, for ensuring access for all to law school and the legal profession, and for maintaining a legal system that represents and mediates conflicts between differing interests, goals and perspectives."
-RISA GOLUBOFF, Dean