October 2, 2019 | Diversity Week is an annual occasion designed to bring people together and build connections among the entire Pepperdine Law community. This year, the celebration took place September 14-20.
Diversity Week officially kicked off on Saturday with the For People of Color Admissions Conference. This event provides prospective law students with a comprehensive overview of the application process. Panels consisting of law students and lawyers shared their individual pathways to law school and the legal professions. This year’s speakers included Capri Maddox (JD ’01) Senior Executive Director- LAUSD Partnerships Southern California Grantmakers; Anthony Solano, Jr., founder of For People of Color, Inc.; Dean Paul Caron; Professors Jeff Baker, Tanya Cooper, and Sukhsimran Singh; and student panelists. Maddox, who delivered the keynote speech, described Pepperdine Law as a place where she felt welcome, included, and celebrated, and she remarked, “This school is a place where you are celebrated, not tolerated.”
The student organization Advocates for Youth, APALSA, and OUTLaw sponsored a featured speaker–a defense and civil rights activist who represents a number of intersecting issues. The speaker offered a clear message to current law students: “If you really want to be great at something,” she said, “be a defender. Take on the higher calling. Go the hard way.”
The next event was an interfaith panel discussion with faculty panel members who represent different faiths, including Christianity, Judaism, and Sikhism, who spoke about their personal faith backgrounds and how their respective faiths inform their engagement at Pepperdine. Our distinguished panelists this year were Dean Victoria Schwartz, Professor Tiffany Williams, and Straus Professor Sukhsimranjit Singh. The panel was moderated by the Interfaith Student Council.
The first Open Conversation of the new academic year followed on Wednesday, with a discussion on diversity in law school and the legal profession. Professor Ahmed Taha moderated the thoughtful dialogue between students.
The highlight of Diversity Week is Global Village Day–a cultural and culinary celebration that highlights the many traditions of our law students. Countries from Nigeria to Brazil and China to Saudi Arabia were represented by our student body through traditional outerwear, food, and decorations. There was also music and literature to represent the American South, a table of treats made by the Latinx Student Association, bites from the Black Law Student Association, and a Straus Institute table to represent the many international students. Dean Goodno and Professor Weston even got in on the action with a Southwestern themed table.
Diversity Week concluded in a festive fashion with a special mixer hosted by Manning & Kass Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP at their Downtown LA office. It was a great opportunity for students to network with alumni and friends of the law school from all backgrounds and professional and personal experiences. Dean Caron was also in attendance, and he commented, “What I was most impressed by was that in every conversation I was involved in, our alumni were actively encouraging and helping our students as they chart their career paths.”
Dean of Students Naomi Goodno, responsible for seeing Diversity Week come to fruition, added, “I love the richness of diversity week. The law school starts the week by reaching out to nearly 100 diverse prospective law students at the FPOC Conference, followed by a series of lunch events that celebrate the depth of our religious, political, and ethnic diversity, and ends with a diversity mixer where our students mingle with prominent Los Angeles lawyers. The student involvement in all of the events was outstanding.”
Thank you to the students, staff, faculty, and alumni who had a hand in making this year’s Diversity Week one of the best yet!