Provenance: Raised from age five in Winston-Salem, NC, by his Aunt Mae. After years in foster care: “She gave me a permanent home and did an amazing job of instilling the value of educati:on and hard work into me at a very young age.” Learning: BA in Political Science, University of Missouri-Kansas City. Pre-law: Piano player, singer, bartender, youth minister, board member, Millennial League of the AIDS Service Foundation, Kansas City, MO. At BC Law: Co-President 2015-16, Black Law Students’ Association; Secretary 2015-16, Lambda Law Students’ Association; Resident Assistant; Research Assistant to Professor Catharine Wells; Staff, Uniform Commercial Code Reporter-Digest. Hangout: I’m a Digester, so the UCC office is our hidden little gem. Extra Credit: Mixes a perfect Old Fashioned. Next: Clerkship with the Honorable Judge Mary F. Walrath, US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.
At eighteen, college just didn’t feel right. I’d have to pay for it on my own, and I didn’t really have much guidance. I had a 4.0 GPA, I had volunteer experiences, I had the full package, but I didn’t think I was smart enough to go to school.
I traveled with a church music ministry after high school as a singer and piano player. About twenty of us drove around in a rickety old bus, living on the road and staying with host families, or in hotels and church basements.
I moved to Kansas City in 2007 and at nineteen was the right-hand man to the executive director of Luke 18, a young adult leadership organization. I was a pretty evangelical Christian then—I’m not any more—and it was an incredible opportunity to get those leadership and administrative skills pumping.
After working minimum wage jobs for a while, I was telling an old friend, “I don’t really know what I’m doing with my life, and I’m in limbo.” She shoved me into her car, drove me to the University of Missouri in Kansas City, and told me, “You’re going to apply to school.” So in a whirlwind in 2009 I started my undergrad journey.
Law school is like a greenhouse; it magnifies a lot of things about you, both good and bad. I had personal struggles—I found out my mother had died in my first year of law school. So I had to make a conscious choice to regroup and keep going and resolve not to underestimate myself and my abilities.
Poetry and legal writing have a lot in common. They’re both about concision and fresh language and just getting to the point.
What I’ve found is that people are more similar than they are different. I’ve seen that all the way from being a bartender to being a youth minister—polar opposite experiences, you’d think—but some of the same conversations were happening in church as on my bar stools. That’s given me a unique perspective on people—a sense of empathy, too. The struggles aren’t that different.