By Philip Nickerson – Mentor, University of Denver – Sturm College of Law
The beauty of LAW SCHOOL… Sí Se Puede is that each fellow has multiple mentors to rely on for guidance and encouragement as they blaze their trails towards becoming the diverse attorneys and leaders of the future. In a profession where minorities are greatly underrepresented, having a support system plays a vital role in ensuring a fellow’s dream of law school does not go unfulfilled.
Yet LAW SCHOOL… Sí Se Puede is more than a program that fosters the growth of our future diverse attorneys. It's a program that fosters the growth of our future diverse role models. Today’s fellows will inherently become the role models for the next generation of great legal minds. The ripple effect that LAW SCHOOL… Sí Se Puede fellows are creating will continue to spread until it inspires the students of color everywhere.
I grew up in a small Texas town of just over 5,000 where the only role models of color my friends and I had to look up to did not go to college, were involved in drugs, or were in jail. With no positive examples to look up to our dreams were limited in scope. For instance, in middle school my friends and I dreamed of nothing outside of high school athletic glory. As our high school days wound down and we began to realize that the glory would soon fade, many of us quit dreaming altogether. Lacking examples of successful women and men of color, we had no one to turn to with questions regarding possible career goals and the paths necessary to obtain them. As a result, I ended up being one of 5 students of color from my graduating class to pursue college and obtain a bachelors degree. Many of my classmates have followed the well-worn path toward no further education, abuse of drugs, and jail time.
When I agreed to give four years of my time as a mentor with LAW SCHOOL… Sí Se Puede , I did so knowing that I would aid in the creating a role model for young kids of color. I knew that the words of advice, the text messages of encouragement, and the phone calls to just “check-in” with my mentee over the next four years would not only help my him achieve his goal of attending law school, but also give future generations of diverse students something greater to aspire. My mentee, as a freshman in college, is already showing of becoming the role model I want my children to look up to. The true beauty of the LAW SCHOOL… Sí Se Puede fellowship program is the exponential effect four years of mentorship of one fellow can have on generations to come.