Fulfilling a mission to increase diversity in legal education
Kellye Beathea, J.D. ’15
What’s it like to feel like a law student in an instant? “Intimidating and empowering!” says Kellye Beathea, J.D. ’15, a former Baltimore Scholar in the Fannie Angelos Program for Academic Excellence at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Beathea is referring to her immersion in the Angelos Program’s annual Boot Camp, in which eight college juniors and seniors from Maryland’s four historically black colleges and universities—selected to become the program’s Baltimore Scholars based on their academic performance—spend two weeks in January living the life of a UB law student before ever applying to law school. “You’re taking the same classes, writing legal briefs, meeting with lawyers and judges,” she recalls. “The experience helped me realize that I wanted to be an attorney and also that I had the emotional and mental strength to get through law school.”
Boot Camp is only one way the Angelos Program is fulfilling its mission to increase diversity in legal education and in the legal profession. The program annually provides full scholarships to that year’s Baltimore Scholars if they choose to attend UB’s law school and meet certain minimum LSAT and GPA requirements. It also funds a semester-long LSAT preparation course for 80 students from those same four HBCUs.
“It’s very rewarding to be able to provide opportunities to talented students who, due to difficult circumstances, might not even consider graduate education as a possibility,” says UB law Professor Michael Meyerson, who directs the program along with law Professor Michael Higginbotham and administrator Lenora Giles. And, he continues, many members of the UB community—faculty, staff and alumni—contribute time and resources to make the program a success. “When we ask for assistance with mentoring, professional training or internships, [our volunteers] usually say we’ve given them a gift,” Meyerson adds.
Says Beathea, who began working full time as a clerk to a judge this summer, “I’m so proud that I was a part of the Angelos program. I won’t be able to repay the program for this opportunity enough, but I’ll pay it forward by helping others through my profession instead.”