Five Jackson State pre-law law students were invited to partake in a “Future Black Lawyer Institute” workshop in Phoenix during Super Bowl LVII, creating an equally unique experience. JSU leadership served as a primary sponsor allowing the Bob Owens Pre-Law Center students to attend.
“The Department of Political Science believes that it is vital to bestow upon our students influential, long-lasting, and unique experiences,” said Department of Political Science Chair Maruice Mangum, Ph.D. “Such high-impact practices encourage students to strive for higher heights and improve student success.”
JSU alumna Natasha Scruggs, Esq., invited the top- performing students to attend during a workshop she hosted at JSU last October.
Mangum added that these enriching opportunities will signal to students that adventures await them when they excel in the classroom.
“It is our desire that these students see themselves in spaces they did not dream about before. We hope they can see a new potential reality for themselves, work hard to achieve their goals, and be better prepared for their futures,” he said.
Senior political science student Kennadie Boykin was a scholarship recipient from the previous workshop and was selected as a top-performing student to attend the Phoenix workshop. Boykin highlighted the opportunity to meet a judge who was a woman of color as her most memorable experience.
“The judges last time were all white males. In Phoenix, the lead justice was a Latina woman,” said Boykin. “It was different getting to hear her perspective, and being a woman in general, I could relate a little more, and I really liked that.”
The workshop attendees said they felt empowered by the experience, especially since it was a group consisting entirely of young black women who all aspire to become lawyers.
The JSU students were also asked to mentor and assist high school and middle school students who attended the workshop as well. Sophomore political science major Kourtney Graves credited the opportunity for strengthening the bond between her and her peers.
She said it was rewarding to mentor and share her experience with the group of youth.
“It was a very special and vulnerable moment to motivate a younger generation. The legal field is not very diverse, and I feel like it was rewarding to be in a room of Black and brown students working to be in the legal field,” said Graves. “It was so cute seeing them walk up to the podium and give oral arguments.”
In addition to meeting Arizona Supreme Court justices and mentoring, the pre-law students spent a day working with the general counsel for the National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes and Major League Baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Super Bowl host committee. This experience allowed them to network with entertainment lawyers who offered them internship opportunities.
“Talking to the entertainment lawyers was really interesting because we were able to talk to different types of attorneys, and they gave us really good advice,” said sophomore criminal justice major Makenzie Greer. “Being there just felt like we were receiving reward after reward, and that felt really good.”
The students said the Scruggs is planning on inviting them to more FBLI workshops in and they’re eager for the future exposure.