HBCU Preview Day Prepares Students for the Law School Application Process


Emmanuel Lewis (standing, left), a law student at Jackson UM, and Kaehla Outlaw, a law student from Starkville, chat with a group of undergraduates from Alcorn State University, from Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University, and Rust College during the First Day of Law School HBCU Preview. Photo by Kevin Bain / Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Mississippi – Students from four of the state’s historically black colleges and universities recently visited the University of Mississippi School of Law to see what the school has to offer and introduce them to the many resources, including faculty and staff, available to assist with the law school application process.

The preview day is part of an effort to strengthen relationships with Mississippi HBCUs, build a more diverse and equitable campus in accordance with the University-wide Pathways to Equity strategic plan and help create a legal workforce that is more representative of the state as a whole.

Chancellor Glenn Boyce welcomed visiting students, challenging them not to leave with questions and to make sure they meet someone who can help them on their way to law school.

“We deeply believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that our campus welcomes all students who come here in search of an education that will transform their lives and the communities we serve,” Boyce said. “Our faculty and staff are here to help talented students learn and define how they want to make their mark on the world.

“This supportive environment is a fundamental part of a rich learning experience. I hope you will leave your visit understanding the University of Mississippi in a more complete light and knowing that we want you to be a part of our present – and our future. “

Susan Duncan, the dean of the school, said she hopes events like this show future students that law school can be part of their future.

“A lot of Mississippians didn’t see lawyers who looked like them growing up,” Duncan said. “Not only do we want to open the door to a more diverse group of students, but we want to make sure that there is a climate in which they can thrive, and ultimately represent the audience when they come out.

“To achieve this goal, the Law School adopted its own comprehensive DCI plan in fall 2020 and we are excited about the progress we are making.”

Throughout the day, dozens of students from Alcorn State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University, and Rust College learned about the admissions process, participated in a simulated classes, visited the school, and heard a diversity panel of former HBCU alumni who are UM law students or recent graduates.

Undergraduates from Mississippi Valley State University and Jackson State University participate in a mock law class on HBCU Preview Day at UM Law School. Photo by Kevin Bain / Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

“We opened the diversity panel to questions and the first question was, ‘How does it feel to be black at Ole Miss,'” said Joshua Tucker, a recruiter and law school graduate. in 2020 who helped organize the preview day. “When we asked the questions, everyone seemed surprised.

“Most of the time, students want to ask this question but don’t know how. So when we said that, it’s like they know it’s a safe space.

Tucker drew on his own experience as an undergraduate and then law student at Ole Miss. He’s a first generation student who never considered attending UM until he attended a summer session.

Keyjaun Meeks, a Mississippi Valley State University junior with pre-law and double major in Indianola government and politics, said he never considered UM as an option. But after the preview day, he said he was pleasantly surprised and added UM to his list of law schools to apply for admission.

“Just listening today and being able to sit in a fictional class gave me a glimpse of what I could potentially get from Ole Miss,” Meeks said. “I really enjoyed the course and honestly it wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t think it would be run by a black instructor. I thought it would be all white.

Roderick Talley, a recent psychology and political science graduate from Jackson State University and originally from Durant, said speaking with faculty and students gave him confidence to apply.

“After talking with someone and sharing my story, it made me feel a lot more confident that I think I have a good chance of getting in here,” said Talley. “Not only because I did my part on the grades and LSAT, but my story is compelling enough to push me through. “

Talley and Meeks each said they feel called to go to law school so they can tackle disparities in the state’s criminal justice system, which has one of the highest incarceration rates. in the world and systematically imprison a disproportionate number of black Mississippians.

“If I can find myself in the middle of this court system, then I can change this incarceration rate,” Meeks said. “I want to fight from inside and inside the courtroom.”

Tucker said he was happy to see the number of HBCU students and faculty attending the event, and is especially pleased to see the level of engagement from the invited students.

“We often aspire to be what we see,” Tucker said. “Most students, like me, will be our families’ first advocates.

“Due to HBCU Preview Day, Mississippi HBCU students had the opportunity to meet and learn from black lawyers here in Mississippi. I think today’s event reflects the direction we plan to take this law school.

For more information on legal education at UM, visit https://law.olemiss.edu/.


Nancy I. Romero

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