Lifelong friendships were forged. Tears were shed. Laughs were shared.
The camaraderie they had and genuine feeling for each other among TJSL CLEO Summer Institute scholars was exceptional. It showed at a very emotional closing ceremony, as the 41 scholars realized that they were about to go in 41 different directions to attend different law schools.
They spent six remarkable weeks together at TJSL – living almost like a family. They bonded in a common experience – going through a legal “boot-camp” to prepare them for their first year of law school.
“There are 47,000 students entering law school this fall and only 100 (who attended the two CLEO Summer Institutes) have a leg up like you do,” said Associate Dean Beth Kransberger. Addressing the need for more diversity in the legal profession, Dean Kransberger said “we need you. Society needs you.”
CLEO, the Council on Legal Education Opportunity, offers its summer institutes to prepare students from diverse backgrounds to succeed in law school -- and in their careers after law school. It was the third time TJSL has hosted a CLEO Summer Institute and those who attended are now all Thurgood Marshall Fellows.
“You made it!” Admissions Director Tim Spearman said to the scholars during the ceremony. “You made it to the end and you are more courageous and talented than you know!”
“When you arrived here, many of you probably thought ‘Lord, what am I doing here’”, said Bernetta Hayes, CLEO Program Specialist. “And here you are six weeks later at the crossroads of life. It’s time for unwavering confidence in yourself and your skills.”
“Confidence is 80-90 percent of this battle,” said CLEO teaching assistant Lorraine Galvis, a law student herself in New York.
“Don’t ever settle for anything less than complete mastery of what you are doing,” Professor Thomas Golden told his students as he addressed them for the last time. “You don’t really know a subject until you can explain it to someone else.”
“Nothing worth having comes easy,” said Jay B. Campbell during an “open mike” session where the CLEO scholars got to stand up speak to the group about their experiences. Campbell will be attending TJSL in the fall.
Most of the scholars talked about how they learned from each other and inspired each other. Among the many solid friendships created during the six weeks, were Megan Marsh and Melissa Gant, who were inseparable during the summer.
And oh how they all cheered for one another during the farewell ceremony! The group is forming a Facebook page so they can stay in touch with each other.
More than learning about the law, the CLEO scholars learned about themselves and what they are capable of. “I really feel empowered to go to law school,” said Bridget Widdowson.
Thanks to CLEO and TJSL, most do know what they are getting themselves into. And many of the scholars expressed gratitude to both CLEO and the law school for the opportunity it has created for them.
“We have high expectations for you,” TJSL Associate Director of Admissions Michelle Allison told the group. “Law school is really a life test.”
“You have what it takes to do well in law school,” said Tim Spearman. “Congratulations and good luck in the fall.”