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Story by Michael Fisch
With the largest social justice movement in a generation as a backdrop, Suffolk Law has launched an ambitious new scholarship program designed to increase the number of law students from diverse and historically underrepresented backgrounds.
Suffolk is offering full tuition scholarships, via the Law School’s binding early decision program, to graduates of 26 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The scholarships are renewable for students who remain in good academic standing.
“If we want to improve the systems that make Black and brown people a rarity at the levers of power, the legal profession is a great place to start,” says Cherina Wright, JD ’17, MBA ’17, Suffolk’s assistant dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The program also includes scholarships for first generation students from 25 colleges in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, guaranteeing up to $20,000 in aid. Studies show significant challenges are faced by first-generation college students, who work harder to cover expenses during law school and carry larger debt burdens than students whose parents hold professional degrees.
Wright says, “Our goal is to offer historically underrepresented students an equal opportunity to reach those high-impact positions. These scholarships help open the door.”
Shirbrea Ponder, JD ’18, a first-generation law student and HBCU graduate who is now an assistant solicitor general in Atlanta, says the scholarships represent a significant opportunity for students who might not otherwise be able to afford law school. Students coming from HBCUs bring a different set of life experiences, she says, providing diversity that helps all students learn to expand their perspectives.