UH Law Center Pre-Law Pipeline graduates pledge to triumph over adversity

The University of Houston Law Center’s Pre-Law Pipeline Program recently said farewell to its fourth class at a graduation ceremony.

The University of Houston Law Center's Pre-Law Pipeline Program recently said farewell to its fourth class at a graduation ceremony.

Aug. 14, 2018 — Forty-three graduates of the University of Houston Law Center's Pre-Law Pipeline Program vowed to overcome obstacles in their academic and professional careers recently at a closing ceremony in the Great Hall of the University of Houston Athletics/Alumni Center.

"I was delighted to teach the scholar a class on Race and the Law and the Scholar 2s a class on succeeding on the LSAT while keeping calm," Dean Leonard M. Baynes said. "Every year, I am delighted to meet and help such talented students from first generation, low income ad underrepresented backgrounds.

"It is an honor for the Law Center to provide them with the tools to succeed. We wish them well and much success on their journey to become a lawyer."

Baynes also read a statement on behalf of UH Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Paula Myrick Short:

"Congratulations on your graduation from the University of Houston Pre‐Law Pipeline Program," Short's statement said. "It was a great honor to spend time with you and to talk with you and learn of your interests and goals that you have set for your future life's work in the legal profession. I was inspired by your vision, your passion, and your dedication to preparing to the fullest for the pursuit of your law degree.

"You are an amazing group of young people who, I believe, will change the world with your dedication to social justice and improving the lives of others."

The program, now in its fourth year, was established by Baynes and Program Manager Kristen Guiseppi. Professor Meredith J. Duncan, director of Metropolitan Programs, oversees the program.

The eight-week summer course is designed to increase diversity among law school applicants and to provide students from low-income, first generation, and underrepresented backgrounds an opportunity to seriously consider a legal education. The program divides students into two tracks — LSAC's DiscoverLaw.Org Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program and Scholar II.

Students in the PLUS Program started off with three weeks of first-, second- and third-year law school class instruction taught by Law Center faculty. Afterward they participated in legal writing and research training and trial advocacy sessions. The scholars then had three-week internships with a variety of law firms and legal organizations in the area.

"Prior to the start of our internship period, we were prepped to be stellar young professionals through professional development workshops hosted by the associate director of career development, Kourtney James Perry, and Senior Career Development Specialist Stephanie Gallo," said Jaime Guillen, a University of Houston undergraduate student and PLUS Program Scholar.

"We were supported throughout our internship placement by an online internship session with Tiffany Tucker, assistant dean for career development, who generously volunteered her time with the PLUS students."

Scholar II students studied a comprehensive LSAT-focused curriculum to develop a strong foundation of LSAT basics, and built upon it throughout the remainder of the program.

"We ate LSAT, we breathed LSAT, we would analyze our conversations like our LSAT problems. When we weren't in LSAT class, we were in our homework and study sessions," said Gerald Bulloch, a member of the Scholar II program and undergraduate student at Southern Methodist University.

"Also during our time here we participated in a series of workshops and individual sessions that focused on improving and finalizing our personal statements, diversity statements, and resume."

Closing remarks were delivered by Alaina King Benford, a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, who advised students to, "stand still, take a breath, observe and then proceed" when faced with an obstacle.

Students in this summer's program came from 24 colleges and universities across the nation. It was the second-largest class in the pipeline's brief history.

"We said farewell to an amazing group of aspiring lawyers after hosting them for eight weeks," Guiseppi said. "I am so very proud of each individual triumph. Some scholars saw personal growth, some were able to build lifelong friendships, and all of our scholars were able to become more confident in their pursuit of a legal education.

"I am thankful to everyone who contributed to our scholars' growth and development. Together, we are making a difference in our students' lives."

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