FIU Law’s H.T. Smith Black Law Student Association reaches out to high school students

On Friday, October 16, the FIU Law H.T. Smith Black Law Student Association (BLSA) through its BLSA Reaching Out (BRO) program, hosted its annual Law Student for a Day Program – a progressive endeavor aimed at propelling the experiences and academic perspective of high school students in Miami-Dade County by engulfing them into a simulated law school experience.

High school students from William H. Turner Technical Arts (Turner Tech), Miami Central and North Miami convened in the large courtroom where they were exposed to an authentic law school environment while learning law school material from both law school professors and law students.

The students experienced activities that included their basic rights that affect their daily lives and how to interact with law enforcement. After some entertainment and engaging dialogue, the students were divided into smaller groups where they learn about foundational law school courses such as torts, criminal law and constitutional law. Students ended the morning with an informative session from an admission officer who helped to guide them in preparing for the college application process.

Day Rawls, the Academy Leader for the Criminal Justice program and Turner Tech appreciates the partnership her school has with FIU Law.

“Turner Tech and FIU Law go back more than eight years,” Rawls said. “This is an age-appropriate program that is very informative and supports Turner Tech’s criminal justice curriculum – it’s a great chance for our students to see the next phase of their educational journey.”

For 18-year old senior, Jeffrey Assez, the morning was a valuable experience. “It was cool to be in the presence of law students and be here on campus,” he shared. “I hope to study law or become a paralegal.”

Assez is part of Turner Tech’s Criminal Justice program, which when he graduates next spring, will give him an assistant legal paraprofessional certificate.

Professor Phyllis Kotey, BLSA President Kai Thompson and BLSA Community Service Directors Reginald Guillaume, and Terrod Torrence tweaked this year’s program a bit to incorporate some of today’s current events that pertain to questionable interactions between civilians and law enforcement.

“We thought it was imperative to include the Know Your Rights component into the day,” Torrence shared. “While this event provides local high school students rare insight into the content and context of law school studies we wanted to make sure we empowered them with something tangible that may not get elsewhere,” Torrence shared. “Not only are the high school students able to interact and learn from current law school students, but they also are afforded the extensive knowledge of legal personnel on matters. This experience is of critical importance in a day and age where we have witnessed far too many adverse interactions between civilians and law enforcement.”