UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- When Penn State Law student Carlos Camandang first came to State College from his home in Los Angeles, he experienced what he calls “a huge culture shock."
“It took some time to adjust, but the support I’ve received from the law school community has definitely made things easier,” Camandang said.
One of the major avenues of support for Camandang and other minority law students is Penn State Law’s Minority Mentor Program, which recently kicked off its second year with a reception dinner held on August 26.
The Minority Mentor Program, which has been praised by publications like Insight Into Diversity magazine, pairs faculty, staff, and alumni mentors with racially and ethnically diverse students, as well as LGBTQ and physically disabled students.
“In this program, our mentors follow a student through their law school career and together provide the tools a student may need to excel academically and navigate the legal marketplace as a minority individual,” said Penn State Law professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, who also serves as chair of the Penn State Law Diversity Committee and a minority student mentor.
The Minority Mentor Program has attracted additional interest from students, staff, and faculty for its second year in existence and now has over 100 members of the Penn State Law community involved, including 25 faculty and staff members, 36 alumni, and 45 first- and second-year students.
As Camandang begins his second year both at Penn State Law and as part of the Minority Mentor Program, he said the support and advice he’s received from his mentors has already connected him to new professional resources and better prepared him to work in the Pennsylvania legal market.
“Even just knowing there’s someone who cares about you and how you’re doing really lessens the stress you feel throughout the year,” Camandang said. “Knowing that the law school community really cares about this personal issue will hopefully encourage more diverse students to come to Penn State Law.”
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Victor Romero, former chair of the Penn State Law Diversity Committee and a mentor in the program, said he’s happy to see Penn State Law affirm its commitment to creating an inclusive community for all its students.
“This is a very supportive community, and there is a genuine desire among our faculty and alumni for students to succeed regardless of background,” Romero said. “That is specifically evident in the growth of the Minority Mentor Program, and is an example of the kind of care and concern for the students here.”