Underserved populations face many barriers to entry into the formal labor market. For these same people who wish to learn about the law, the hurdles to success are high. Only about half of racially diverse undergraduate students attain a bachelor’s degree in six years, let alone receive post-graduate education. There is an acute need for more resources designed to help members of diverse, historically underserved communities succeed in higher education generally and in law school specifically.
That is why the Western Union Foundation is partnering with Law School Yes We Can (LSYWC) to help expand the number of highly qualified diverse attorneys by matching undergraduate students (fellows) with mentor teams. Each mentor team is comprised of a law student, a mid-level attorney, and a senior attorney or judge. These teams support the fellows through their undergraduate journey. Each fellow also attends workshops, professional development panels, networking opportunities, and LSAT prep courses. The programming has been highly successful with a 95% college graduation rate and numerous law school admissions.
Here are a few of the incredible fellows:
Hannia was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and raised in Denver, Colorado. She is currently attending Metropolitan State University of Denver, the first in her family to do so. She hopes to lift the voice of people of color through her future law degree. Hannia says, “Being a LSYWC fellow means that I have a robust organization of people whose passion is to mentor, support, and elevate students like myself. I am not your ‘typical’ law student but want to pursue law school. Above all else, LSYWC brings me a sense of stability and confidence. I believe it comes from knowing they are committed professionals who believe in me.”
Saxon faced many challenges as a child, but through this learned self-reliance and the importance of education to having a better life. Recently awarded a Fulbright scholarship and studying at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Saxon is excited that LSYWC has helped him achieve his goal of attending Harvard Law School next. Saxon says, “Through personal support and professional guidance, LSYWC has helped me survive and thrive during my undergraduate experience. My mentors have helped me pursue a career where I can use my education to make a difference in the world around me. This program helped me realize dreams I never thought possible and empowered me to do the same for others.”
Alexis is the first in her family to graduate high school and her parents have been major supporters of her education. She sees the struggles her family has faced dealing with the law due to a lack of education and wants to help support others like them through her profession. Alexis says, “LSWYC is power. I am now entering the legal community as a J.D. candidate, and LSYWC is providing me with the right network to be successful. Before this, I did not know any attorneys. Now, I have a community of dedicated professionals who care about my success. It has not been an easy road for me, but having my mentors believe in me, and support me, gives me the strength to stay on track.
On May 21, 2021, Law School Yes We Can hosted a ‘Building Futures’ virtual event where Elizabeth Roscoe, Executive Director of the Western Union Foundation shared opening remarks. Caroline Tsai, Western Union Chief Legal Officer, joined The Honorable Christine M. Arguello in a fireside chat to speak to the fellows and other attendees at the event, including discussions on overcoming structural challenges faced by women and people of color in the legal profession; the importance of building a diverse community and maintaining your network; and the value of challenging yourself by getting out of your comfort zone while staying true to your values.
The Western Union Foundation supports diverse workplaces and works to achieve this through our Opportunity Beyond Borders mission, to empower migrants and refugees with the skills needed to find better jobs, leading to a better life. Learn more about the Foundation on our website, and follow us on Twitter.