Southwestern's BLSA Chapter Continues Their Big Year at Nationals
After an outstanding showing at the regional competition, Southwestern's BLSA chapter enjoyed continued success at the 42nd Annual National Black Law Students Association Convention in Boston, where Southwestern won Chapter of the Year, and Calvin Lowery was elected National Vice-Chair. Additionally, the team of Courtney Collins and Erin Person won First Place in the Negotiation Competition, receiving the 2010 NBLSA International Negotiations Competition Pratima Narayan Award. Southwestern's other negotiation team of Stefon Jones and Ian Larson advanced to the final round in the competition.
"Winning Chapter of the Year was a huge deal for us, as it was a first for Southwestern," said BLSA Co-President Joy Terrell. "We won in our region, and then competed as our regional representatives against at least 10 other regions." To earn the honor, chapter members Terrell, Charles Chineduh and Shawna Wright were interviewed by eight national board members. In addition to the interview, the chapter had to write an essay and submit a scrapbook and lengthy application for consideration.
"We wanted to make sure that this year BLSA was more involved in the community and more social on campus," Terrell said. "That certainly helped contribute to a huge increase in our general membership, which almost doubled this year. Also, we did not start off our year focused on trying to win National Chapter of the year, but all of our events really fell in line with the National BLSA's educational, health, pipeline, and global initiatives, and we ended up going for it."
This was the second honor for Lowery (pictured), who was named Outstanding Regional Board Member for the Western Region at the regional conference in February. (He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Western Region.) During the national convention, he ran a campaign and was named the 2010-2011 National Vice-Chair of BLSA, which puts him second in command of the entire 6,000-member organization nationwide. The National Vice-Chair position will allow him to provide guidance and support to 40 board members (including those from the White House, Senate Chambers, Federal Judges, Executives at Fortune 500 Companies, Managing & Named Partners at firms of all sizes, etc.) who have chosen to represent the organization on the national scene.
"To have delegates from around the country elect me into a National position was amazing," Lowery said. "From my very first day of law school, BLSA has provided me with programming that has supported my academic, professional and personal growth. I am one of those individuals that chose law school because I wanted to make a difference. Early on I realized that BLSA was the vehicle to ensure that I was involved in the community. There are many issues that require the attention and support of law students, and BLSA is there to ensure that the man power is ready, willing and able to tackle those issues."
In the negotiation competition, Collins and Person won by negotiating three unique problems: one concerning a free agency agreement in the National Basketball Association; another involving negotiating the terms of the creation of an international investment fund for Middle East and North Africa (MENA); and in the final round, what changes (if any) should be made to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
"This competition is different from other negotiation competitions because you have less than an hour to negotiate at least four different issues even though there are four teams with detailed concerns," Collins explained. "Professor Gray's critiques, our coaches (Joanna Allen and Joy Terrell), practices, teamwork and intricately researching each problem outside of the general information gave our team the edge... The judges complimented our team on the way that we consistently moved the negotiations along, how well we knew the problems, the way we presented our creative solutions to the rest of the teams and our listening skills."
According to Lowery and other BLSA members, the outstanding achievements of Southwestern's BLSA chapter are the result of many factors such as Southwestern's efforts to recruit students with tremendous energy and leadership skills to "great BLSA advisors and other faculty and administrators who year after year provide meaningful support for success in law school and beyond that is not easily matched by any other law school."