What Diversity Means to Me

UVA Law students, clockwise, Charis Redmond, Josh Burk, Philip Hurst, Dana Wallace, Clint Cowan and Danielle Moore discuss what diversity means to them.

February 22, 2016

As Diversity Week kicks off at the University of Virginia School of Law today, student leaders from various organizations discuss the importance of diversity in their lives and how it has shaped them.

Danielle M​oore '17

Hometown: Miami

Education: B.A. in Finance, M.A. in International Business, University of Florida

Student organizations/extracurricular activities:Latin American Law Organization, president

What does diversity mean to you? Diversity to me means being able to learn from people from all different walks of life. Whether it's a difference in culture, religion, education or background, I really feel like you can learn so much by being exposed to these different experiences and perspectives. Diversity should challenge people to not only be tolerant of others, but to try to learn from them. I think the Latino/Hispanic culture is a great example of why we should all strive to get to know people from different backgrounds. Within one culture, there are no uniform set of beliefs or customs. From Spain to Argentina to Cuba, there are infinite differences. By having a diverse group at UVA Law, students will be able to experience and learn from their peers in a way they have never encountered before.

Your voice at UVA Law was heard when… I was invited, along with other organization presidents, to meet with potential dean candidates. We were able to ask questions and get to know the candidates while voicing our concerns, as well as those of our organization's members. 

Charis Redmond '17

Hometown: Prince George's County, Maryland (D.C. metro area)

Education: B.A. in Human Services, George Washington University

Student organizations/extracurricular activities:Black Law Students Association, president; Virginia Law Women; Public Interest Law Association; Lambda Law Alliance

What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is more than just integration. Diversity is a state of mind. Diversity is more than just enrollment percentages or a welcoming environment. Diversity exists when you go above and beyond being aware of differences or accepting differences to the point of actively including people who are different from you. Diversity is learning from our differences to make the whole community a better place.

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. 

Clint Cowan '16

Hometown: Memphis, Tennessee

Education: B.A. in Economics and Religious Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Virginia Law Families, president; Virginia Law & Business Review, managing editor

What does diversity mean to you? Being different, without being divided.  

Describe UVA Law’s community spirit: When our daughter was born this summer, a friend from our small section surprised us with dinner and a generous set of gift cards, courtesy of all my section-mates. Even though people were scattered around the country as summer associates, they took time to welcome our new addition to the family. That's the UVA community: thoughtful and supportive, never too busy to help others.  

Josh Burk '16

Hometown:  Dallas

Education:  B.A. in Mass Communications, Ouachita Baptist University

Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Law Christian Fellowship, president; Phi Delta Phi, vice magister; Virginia Law Review

What does diversity mean to you?  There are a lot of different faith perspectives represented at UVA Law.  Instead of being a topic of conflict, I have found many opportunities to discuss various religious beliefs in meaningful and valuable ways — not just among people from my own religion but also with those of different faiths.  I have found a community here at UVA that celebrates thoughtful, heartfelt discussion. The gracious way in which people share disagreements about serious topics makes this place an incredible place to be.

Your voice at UVA Law was heard when… I took a year-long religious liberty seminar with people of widely divergent religious beliefs.  The professors and classmates made a concerted effort to listen and hear the opinions of each individual in the group.  Although there were frequent disagreements, nobody was ostracized or made to feel idiotic for having an alternative opinion.  Everyone's opinion mattered and made discussion more fruitful.

Dana Wallace '16

Hometown: Arima, Trinidad and Tobago

Education: B.A. in Latin American Studies with International Relations, M.Sc. in International Relations, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine

Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Women of Color, president; Virginia Law Women, admissions co-chair; William Minor Lile Moot Court, presiding justice; Virginia Law Weekly, social media editor; Peer Advisor

What does diversity mean to you? Diversity for me is not necessarily focused on having more than one ethnicity in the room, but also includes people from different backgrounds with varied life experiences. Ideally we should meet people that encourage us to expand our world view, because not everyone we meet has the same background, and we should be able to relate to people from different walks of life.

Describe UVA Law’s community spirit: When I was about to enter my 3L year, I had some devastating news that threatened my continued attendance here. This community — my colleagues, professors, staff, everyone — stepped up to make sure that I could graduate with the rest of my class. When I didn’t think I had the strength to keep trying, people stepped in and helped me. That is the essence of the community at UVA Law. We look out for our own and I know that — I have made lifelong friends here.

Philip Hurst '16

Hometown: San Jose, California

Education: B.A. in International Relations, Brigham Young University

Student organizations/extracurricular activities: Rex E. Lee Law Society (RELLS), president; West Coast Wahoos

What does diversity mean to you? Diversity makes life so much more fun. Some people don't like trying to relate to others that are different — that's crazy. Relating to people because of our differences, not despite them, is what makes the world so interesting and great.  

Your voice at UVA Law was heard when…. Before I was even admitted. UVA was one of the few law schools on the East Coast that had a group dedicated to students looking to move back west after graduation. I felt like UVA understood me from the beginning and had a network in place to make me feel understood and to help me succeed. 

Read more about what students say about diversity at UVA Law.

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