UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – On Friday, August 21, the Penn State Law in University Park Minority Mentor Program (MMP) held its annual kickoff reception virtually via Zoom. While the reception may have looked visually different this year, the event still celebrated the strong foundation of the program on which mentors and mentees continue to build. The kickoff reception drew nearly 80 attendees, including faculty members, staff, students, and alumni.
In her opening remarks, Penn State Law and School of International Affairs Dean Hari M. Osofsky outlined the concrete diversity, equity, and inclusion action steps Penn State Law has committed to, and the importance of having a program like the MMP.
Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia provided the history of the MMP, the scope of the involvement of Penn State Law faculty and staff, and the criticality of the program in the legal field.
“Minority students who enter law school and the legal profession face unique challenges that include both overt and implicit bias,” said Wadhia. “One goal of the minority mentor program is for participating students to have support while in law school and learn how to navigate some of these challenges.”
Current mentees Shivangi Tomar and Ryan Morrison offered their perspectives on the power of the MMP and its impact on the law school experience, while alumna Doyinsola Aribo spoke about the experience of the MMP both while she was a student and as a graduate, and the importance of having mentors at every stage. Aribo now works as an associate immigration attorney with the corporate law firm of Fragomen in Boston, Mass.
New Associate Dean of Student Services Wende’ Ferguson broke out attendees into smaller groups for discussions, covering topics such as what they hoped to gain from such a prestigious program, before closing out the evening. The main takeaway: students were impressed that they could be connected to the Penn State powerhouse network of over 700k alumni all around the world and to ask lots of questions.
Nearly 30 first-year law students are enrolled in the MMP, bringing the total number of participating students to more than 75. The program offers law students from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to establish a mentoring relationship with both internal and external mentors who are professionals in the legal field. The MMP provides students with the support to help them achieve academic success and emotional well-being throughout all three years of law school and after entering the legal profession.
More information on the Penn State Law MMP can be found online.