Aug. 26, 2020 - For University of Houston Law Center 2L Reika Nakayama, the importance of groups on campus that promote diversity cannot be overstated. This belief is partly what led her to become the president of the Asian Law Students Association.
"It is a much-needed safe space for minority students to voice their unique perspectives and opinions and find empathy, encouragement, and validation," Nakayama said. "From my own experience, spaces that provide a sense of belonging and stability are particularly valuable in high stress environments such as law school.”
She said the group’s significance was highlighted this summer when the ALSA joined the Hispanic Law Students Association and OUTLaw in support of the Black Law Student Association’s calls for societal change.
“It was a great opportunity to discuss within ALSA how our experiences and perspectives as Asian Americans can contribute to meaningful progress,” Nakayama said. “Groups like ALSA are important to have at law schools throughout the country because they serve as a great starting point for law students to have necessary conversations about topics that may be sensitive and potentially difficult."
Over the summer, Nakayama participated in a remote internship with the Harris County District Attorney's Office. Part of her responsibilities included reviewing and summarizing reports from various agencies and researching new statutes and regulations.
"I was able to have a flexible schedule, which was great," Nakayama said. "A remote internship was new to both me and my attorney advisor, but we figured out an efficient way to work together."
Prior to attending the Law Center, Nakayama received a Bachelor of Laws from Waseda University in Tokyo. She said she was inspired to pursue a legal degree in part from her mother and grandmother.
"From their own experiences, they wanted me to earn a professional degree because it will help me no matter where I end up in life," she said. "I eventually narrowed my decision down to a law degree because it is versatile and global. I have an international background, and I thought law is the best area to apply what I have learned thus far."