On April 10, the BC Law Black Alumni Network (BAN) and the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) held their annual Ruth-Arlene Howe Heritage Banquet. As BLSA incoming co-presidents, KP and I addressed the attendees. Our speeches are reproduced below.
Thank you so much for the honor of serving as incoming co-president alongside KP, and our entire BLSA executive team, for this upcoming year. Personally, I am eager and excited to building stronger relationships with every BLSA member and supporter, as I’ve had the unfortunate circumstance of studying fully remotely this past year. But even more so, I look forward to continuing the legacy and momentum of past BLSA leadership.
The first priority of our organization is to foster a Black community at BC that ensures the professional success and personal growth of each student. I can say for myself that the existing community achieves this above and beyond expectations. I remember about a month after I decided to attend BC Law, I received a mass email from Dean Vincent Rougeau addressing the civil unrest in the wake of yet another unarmed black man, George Floyd, murdered by the police. Dean Rougeau’s words affirmed his own identity as a Black man, while also affirming my choice to attend Boston College because I knew then that I was entering a community that valued Black lives, and thus would value me.
I also recall an encouraging conversation with Dean Shawn McShay, who gave me the confidence to excel at BC Law. I also remember all of my one-on-one meetings with upperclassman who showed nothing but love and support entering my first year of law school. Students like Elizabeth Morrison, Chinyere Okogeri, Vannessa Lawrence, Kristen Daly, and of course my BLSA mentor John-Henry Marley, just to name a few.
As if that wasn’t enough, I was then embraced by a host of BC Law alumni who ensured I had everything I needed. People like Arianne Waldron, Jermaine Kidd, and Cusaj Thomas, to again just name a few.
There is already a strong Black community at BC Law. I think I speak for all BLSA members when I say that we only strive to strengthen and support the expansion of this community with even more incoming Black students. It’s hard to think about next year with a month of finals staring at us, but I’m still excited to work alongside all of you during this upcoming year.
Thank you for this opportunity.
Kosisochi “KP” Ifediba
I’m abundantly excited to get started here as well, and equally as grateful for my opportunity to serve as co-president alongside my section mate, Travis Salters. Now, the truth is, a Black man drew me to Boston College. The first interaction that I had with anyone from Boston College was in Atlanta, Georgia, at an LSAC sponsored law school fair. Boston was a city I was considering moving to, but I didn’t know much about it, and after an admittedly cold conversation with a recent graduate from Boston University, I wasn’t sure that I would give it a shot.
Fortunately, I got the chance to talk with Dean Shawn McShay. He was friendly, energetic, informed and engaging, and he sold me on the idea of Boston College as a different kind of law school experience: a law school where the students were caring, compassionate and collaborative with one another while still being competitive with previous versions of themselves. The moment I received my acceptance, I knew this would be a really great place for me.
Since the first day I set foot on campus, I set out to engage with the BLSA. As a result, I felt a tremendous amount of support from the active members and from the BLSA programming. From my 2L mentor, Winston Broderick, to my 3L mentor, Zane Fernandez, and my Black Alumni Network mentor, David Rollins, the council that I’ve received from the community has been invaluable. These experiences have been some of the best benefits that I’ve derived from my membership.
As Black law students on a largely non-Black campus, our faces can seem few and far between. This is why I find it so important to foster broader engagement within the Black community and identity within our organization. Of course, I want to build upon the work of our previous leaders in facilitating opportunities for networking, informational sessions, skill building and exam preparation, while at the same time encouraging meeting early and often for social events and group activities. However, a large part of our work will be creating an environment such that Black students–from the moment they step on campus at Boston College Law School–can feel that they belong to a community inside a community. I want every Black student who chooses to attend Boston College Law School to truly find a home here and feel that the members of this organization are invested in their growth, both inside and outside of their legal careers. With that being said, I want to reiterate that I’m abundantly excited to get started and really grateful for the opportunity. Thank you for your support.
Travis Salters is a first-year student at BC Law, and the incoming vice president of the Impact blog. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.