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Panel of law students from diverse backgrounds to hold discussion

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly A Creamer, 808-389-5736
Media Consultant, Law School
Posted: Jan 9, 2014

A panel of law students from diverse backgrounds will share their UH Mānoa Law School experiences in a unique discussion on Wednesday, January 22, that will explore the critical importance of opening even more doors to students of color.

The frank, open-ended discussion is scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Moot Court Room at the William S. Richardson School of Law at 2515 Dole St. Panelists will discuss a wide range of topics, including the values at the Richardson Law School that recently was recognized for the “Best Environment for Minority Students” by The Princeton Review in its 2014 rankings.

“We’re not simply learning the black letter of the law,” said Valerie Dionne, ’14, president of La Alianza, and one of the panelists. “You learn there are other people with other life experiences that you might never have understood.

“We read cases and have these lively discussions in class with professors who encourage that. They want you to talk about a case and why you saw it from your perspective. Someone on the other side of the room may say, ‘I never thought of that,’ and it’s an ‘ah ha’ moment. You walk out of the room with a deeper understanding.”

Four other student leaders will join Dionne on the panel. They include: Khara Jabola Carolus, ’15, president of the Filipino Law Students Association (FLSA); Laura Cushman, ’15, vice-president of La Alianza; Nadine Ortega, ’15, of FLSA; and Renee Togafau, ’15.

The panel has been assembled by the students themselves in partnership with UH Mānoa Law School Admissions Director Elisabeth Steele Hutchison. It is part of the “Students of Color and Cultural Diversity Open House” intended to help prospective students understand as much as possible about what law school is like. The law students will speak about their transition into law classes and what becoming a student at Richardson means to them.

“I never thought I would be where I am today,” noted Carolus, who said she may never have applied to Law School without encouragement from other Filipino law students.

“I interned at the Supreme Court this last semester. I never thought I’d be doing that in a million years,” said Carolus. “That’s what’s so great about this school. You can shine in other areas rather than just on paper. People encourage you to show your other areas of prowess … If you’re thinking too much of your boundaries, it could keep you from a lot of excellent opportunities.”

From its start 40 years ago, the Law School has attracted students of diverse backgrounds and interests, and this is reflected in approximately 35 student organizations active on campus each year.

In the current The Princeton Review rankings, the Law School also placed third in the country for “Most Diverse Faculty” and fifth for “Most Chosen by Older Students.” Last year the U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 National Diversity Index named Richardson as first in the nation for the likelihood of students encountering classmates from different racial or ethnic groups.

Dean Avi Soifer said, “We are very proud of the initiative that our students repeatedly demonstrate. And, as the most diverse law school in the United States, we may be the most diverse law school in the world.”

Walk-ins are welcome for the January 22 panel discussion, but RSVPs will be appreciated at

Parking is available in the lower campus parking structure.