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Local high school students explore pathways to legal education at UH Law Center

Students

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Tiffany Tucker, UHLC Assistant Dean for Career Development

March 27, 2024 — The University of Houston Law Center Office of Admissions, in partnership with Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas, hosted nearly 250 local area high school students during the University of Houston Law Center’s (UHLC) annual Diversity Matters: Opportunities and Communities Law Day. The event was geared toward students from underserved communities. Participants received an inside look at the legal profession from the perspective of current law students, alumni, staff, the FBI, and the judiciary.

Angela Ambers-Henderson, Associate Director of Admissions, welcomed the students.

“Each year we attempt to grow the program and reach as many students as possible," Ambers-Henderson said. "I was delighted to see so many young people from Alief Early College High School, Elsik High School, Spring High School, Andy Dekaney High School, Westfield High School, Dr. Kirk Lewis Career & Technical High School, and North Shore High School interested in learning more about law school and the legal profession. The students were attentive, enthusiastic, and asked insightful questions of the presenters and panelists."   

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Audience

Dr. Olivia Hayes, Career Development Specialist and Pre-Law Advisor at the University of Houston, provided information regarding undergraduate resources available through University Career Services, including major and career exploration, application preparation, and strategies to build confidence in students’ skills and abilities. Hayes recommended prelaw students take undergraduate legal courses, join student organizations, and explore community service opportunities to expose themselves to the field of law.  Hayes urged students to seize opportunities to explore passions, gain experience, and clarify future career paths.

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The Honorable Genesis Draper

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The Honorable Genesis Draper shared her personal and professional journey to the legal field. Draper recounted her experience earning her B.A. in English from Spelman College, a historically Black liberal arts college for women, and earning her juris doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin School of Law. Before being appointed to the Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 12, Draper served as a public defender for more than 10 years. She described her experiences of serving as a court-appointed attorney, representing people accused of crimes. Draper also serves as a UHLC adjunct professor, teaching advanced trial advocacy.

Mariesha Keys (J.D. ’19), Program Director of the University of Houston Law Center Pre-Law Pipeline Programs, also shared her legal journey. As an alumna of both the University of Houston and UHLC, Keys is distinctly situated as a “Double Coog.”

“The University of Houston Law Center Pre-Law Pipeline Programs is an exploratory program designed to demystify the law school admissions process, law student life, and professional practice. This program is a race-neutral program for students with a genuine interest in law who are first-generation, low-income, or members of groups underrepresented in the legal profession,” Keys said.  

Students heard about the pathways to becoming an attorney from various UHLC staff during the Journey to Attorney, Complete Panel. The panel consisted of five women attorneys from a wide range of backgrounds, including Pilar Mensah, UHLC Assistant Dean for Admissions, Monica Mensah, UHLC Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Angela Ambers-Henderson, UHLC Associate Director of Admissions, Amanda Armstrong, UHLC Assistant Director of Admissions, and Mariesha Keys, UHLC Program Director of Pre-Law Pipeline Programs.

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Each attorney shared her unique experience and discussed challenges in law school and barriers to entry into the legal profession. The panelists encouraged students to seek out resources and support available to help ensure their legal success.

Tiffany Tucker, Assistant Dean for Career Development, encouraged students to maintain a professional presence when using social media platforms and communicating with employers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent Becky Nguyen discussed recruitment and UHLC alumna and FBI Associate Division Counsel Kiera Parikh (J.D. ’06) shared information on working at the agency.

The program concluded with a panel of current UH Law Center students Mercy Obisesan and Cameron Malveaux discussing their respective journeys in law school.  

Second-year law student Obisesan advised students to build a community with their peers in law school.

“Lean on your classmates, it’s very easy to feel alone, especially when law school can be such a daunting place. We’re going through the same thing, and having that support is immeasurable,” Obisesan said.  

First-year law student former NFL player and UH alumnus Cameron Malveaux, advised students to commit to their goals and dedicate themselves to the work. Holding to this commitment will better prepare them for their future in the legal profession.

“Make the decision that you’re going to do it, and just do it. Know your end goal and keep in mind that what you are doing will pay off in your future,” Malveaux said. 

For more information about the University of Houston Law Center, visit https://www.law.uh.edu/

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