Jan. 13 2021 – Second-year University of Houston Law Center student Charisma Ricksy Nguepdo has been named the Houston Law Review’s editor-in-chief, the first person of African descent to earn that position.
"I recognize that my election as the first Black editor-in-chief means that I have now opened a door for other students of color to dream a little bigger,” Nguepdo said. “My hope is that through my hard work on behalf of the Houston Law Review, students who may have otherwise doubted their ability to join the Law Review will think twice about what is possible for them.”
Founded in 1963, the Houston Law Review is a legal journal published by University of Houston Law Center, providing a chance for students to improve their legal research and writing skills and offer judges and scholars a forum for new legal arguments. It has more than 1,000 esteemed alumni members, ranging from judges who served or have served on U.S. District Courts and the Texas Supreme Court to renowned practitioners and general counsel in Fortune 500 companies.
“I am very proud of the Houston Law Review for making an historic appointment of Charisma Nguepdo as its editor-in-chief,” said Dean Leonard M. Baynes. “Charisma is highly qualified for the position. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Penn State University majoring in African-American Studies and Criminology. She then received her masters of science from Johns Hopkins University School of Education. Before becoming a UH Law Center student, she taught for several years through Teach For America in Cleveland, Ohio and also taught at prep schools in Baton Rouge, La., did education advocacy work, and provided professional development to other teachers.
“After excelling during her first year at the UH Law Center, Charisma worked as a summer associate at Locke Lord and was elected President of the Black Law Students Association. Also many congratulations to all who have served as Charisma’s teachers and mentors, to the Houston Law Review for making history, and to Charisma for her talent and skill which has been recognized and affirmed.”
“Congratulations to Ms. Nguepdo,” Professor of Law Meredith J. Duncan, the Assistant Dean of Diversity, Inclusion and Metropolitan Programs, added. “She is a terrific choice for editor-in-chief and is deserving of and well-suited for this honor. She has worked hard since her first day of law school, and I could not be more thrilled for her.”
Nguepdo is the 2020-2021 president of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), dedicated to promoting the aspirations and needs of Black law students and influencing the legal community. Sharing quick tips and facts of life with 1Ls has been the forefront of her mission to help students exceed their expectations and not be bound by minority prejudice.
‘“My love of community, and my belief in giving back to my community, is what motived me to join BLSA,” Nguepdo said. “It has been my mission to help other students achieve even more than I have.”
Nguepdo plans to improve Houston Law Review’s student body engagement by collaborating with various student organizations to host workshops or panels and provide opportunities for first-year law students to ask Houston Law Review members questions about law school, joining the Law Review and how to not get overwhelmed as they pursue their goals.
Focused on diversity and inclusion, Nguepdo aims to broaden Houston Law Review’s membership by making it more accessible and reflecting the broader demographics of the Law Center community. Through authentic engagement, she strives to represent Houston Law Review as an organization where all belong and all identities will be valued and accepted.
“We have been very impressed by Charisma’s work product, poise and diligence,” outgoing Houston Law Review Editor-in-Chief Reagan Lutter said. “We are excited to see the great things that she and her board will accomplish.”
Nguepdo is a fellow for the Legal Writing Center, a research assistant for Professor Duncan and was a summer associate at Locke Lord. She and her brother were raised by a single mother in East Harlem in New York.
“Although my childhood was not easy, I would not change it for the world because it has shaped who I am today,” Nguepdo said. “I value community and I’m grateful for all opportunities because I recognize that I did not have to be here, especially considering where I grew up.”