Southwestern Students Embrace Service Day Opportunities
Southwestern's Second Annual Diversity Week celebrated the law school's historic commitment to a wide array of students, programs and opportunities. This year's week-long celebration culminated in a Public Interest Service Day on October 8, a new event that offered students multiple opportunities to actively participate in community service, or develop skills to help those in need.
More than 200 students signed up to participate in a number of activities to reach out to the community. "I was really touched at the turnout for Service Day," said Associate Dean Nyree Gray, Dean of Students and Diversity Affairs. "All of the projects were important and provided an opportunity to put law school in perspective. You really can have an impact on someone's life."
Members of the Latino Law Students Association traveled to Camino Nuevo High School to conduct a mock negotiation "We had about 70 high school kids take part in the mock trial," said Cynthia Valdez, co-vice president of LLSA. "We broke up into groups of four. The high school students were so good at the negotiation that they all settled before time was up. The experience was very rewarding and the kids seemed to have enjoyed it!" Valdez was especially proud to spread a positive message to local youth. "Hopefully, these kinds of activities will make a difference in these kids' lives, and show them that a Latina can become a lawyer or anything she wants to be."
Some participants volunteered at LA Regional Food Bank. Others donated time and resources to the PATH Hygiene Drive. Many students took part in the training clinics, which included: a Small Claims Clinic to teach students to assist clients in the completion of small claims forms; an Expungement Clinic, led by Stephanie Sauter, founder of Law Project of Los Angeles, to educate students about the rights and remedies of workers with criminal records; Homeless Youth Prevention (HYPE), which provided training for how to lead 'know your rights' workshops to homeless youth, and how to help at two drop-in legal clinics in Los Angeles; and General Relief Advocacy Project (GRAP) Training and Outreach to instruct participants on how to advocate for those at risk of becoming homeless.
Second-year student Steven Nguyen attended the Expungement Clinic. "I learned that it's a great opportunity to help people who would not be able to get jobs to support themselves or their families because of minor infractions on their records." Nguyen and other participants were inspired by their experiences during Service Day, which reflects the public service culture nurtured on Southwestern's campus throughout the year.