February 20, 2018
Tulane Law School’s three class presidents Garrett Hines (2020), Kerianne Strachan (2018) and Gerald Williams (2019) are African-American. All of them have a common goal, to inspire other students of color to consider careers in law and to be a positive voice for their classmates.
Three law school students accepted a challenge in the Fall – to lead their respective classes and represent them in the Student Bar Association.
When all the ballots were counted and the dust settled, Tulane Law’s three class presidents smiled at the realization that for the first time in recent memory, all three class presidents were African-American.
“I’ve tried to step into a role and be that person that others can talk to,” said Garrett Hines, who is the president of the first-year law students (2020). “I hope that they will see that I am always positive. I’m not a quota. I’m not checking a box. I earned my place here.”
Nationally, diversity numbers at law schools have averaged around 27 percent. So, Hines, Class of 2019 President Gerald Williams and 2018 Class President Kerianne Strachan say they try to work every day to reach out to their Tulane classmates, offer support, and be a pillar of positive thinking. A goal they share is to be a model to other students of color and continue to grow enrollment.
And with February noted as Black History Month, they decided to talk about being black and attending law school in hopes that others will follow suit, and consider law school.
“We know that all throughout history, minorities have had to work a little harder and find opportunities for better jobs or better pay,” said Strachan. “I think my job now in the law school is to use this history as a stepping stone in my pursuit to being the best person that I can be; the best lawyer, the best student. I want others to be inspired by my journey and reminded that despite adversity, victory is attainable.”
Williams said his goal was to break down barriers for himself, and his classmates.
“Normally, I am shy. I would not have run, but my friends encouraged me,” he said. “I know I am the face of my class. I want to make it my mission to break down stereotypes about students of color, maybe to change some prejudices.”
The three presidents come from wildly different backgrounds.
Strachan, who graduates in May, came from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., having earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration at Marist College. This is her second consecutive year serving as class president and she’s honored because “it’s helped me stay in touch with my school community, and make an impact.”
Williams hails from Brooklyn, and has a Bachelor’s degree in legal studies with a minor in criminal justice from St. John’s University. He earned his master’s in International Relations and Diplomacy abroad, also from St. John’s, studying for three years in Italy. He considers himself a global citizen, and proud of it, because “we can all learn from each other.”
Hines, born and raised in Monroe, La., is a former law enforcement officer. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Louisiana State University and he hopes to one day be a federal prosecutor. He strongly believes that you can’t have order without justice. “I like the law because it provides a structure and stability. And I believe in justice.”
At Tulane Law, all three say they see conversations about diversity and race evolving. The school is welcoming, faculty is supportive and the tools for all students to get career counseling or find externships are growing. All of them pointed to the recent hire of an assistant dean for career development and diversity initiatives as a great way to expand resources for students of color .
“We all understand that we are privileged in our roles at the law school,” said Strachan. “We know that our community needs more African American lawyers. We are inspiring younger students to help those in need, and in the process, change society for the better.”