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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Black Law Students Association at Boyd Honored at Organization’s National, Regional Conventions

Members of Boyd's BLSA at the organization's national convention
in Portland, Ore. From left: Steven "JT" Washington, Crislove Igeleke,
Tasha Schwikert, Scott Morris, Loline-Marie Djidade, and Mahagony Turfley.
It may only be three months into the year, but it has already been an incredible one for the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) at the William S. Boyd School of Law. It has been win, win, and then win some more for the organization.

Members of Boyd’s BLSA recently returned from the National Black Law Students Association 47th Annual National Convention held March 11-15 in Portland, Ore., having experienced a night to remember. The chapter earned one of the evening’s most prestigious honors – 2014-2015 Chapter of the Year.

Chapter of the Year Awards are given to chapters that have demonstrated a high standard of excellence in their work to improve their law school and local community, as well as to help eliminate national problems, such as educational inequity in low-income communities. Boyd was recognized for its accomplishments throughout the year, including: community service events, such as packaging hygiene kits for disaster relief and packaging and delivering food to the elderly and indigent in the Las Vegas community; mentoring elementary, middle, and high school students and 1Ls; hosting pre-law events for undergraduate students; hosting “Know Your Rights” panel discussions on campus and in the community; and organizing leadership empowerment and social events for the Boyd community.

“This is the first time in the history of our law school that an award of this magnitude has been achieved by the Boyd BLSA,” said Professor Rachel Anderson, BLSA advisor. “This award recognizes not only BLSA's successes but also many other qualities demonstrated by the members of our local chapter: ability, dedication, and, above all, excellence. This national recognition increases the visibility of the William S. Boyd School of Law among law students around the country and will surely open more pathways to opportunity and success.”

The recognition follows on the achievements of BLSA at the organization’s 47th Annual Western Regional Convention held earlier this year in Long Beach, Calif.

BLSA winners with their awards at the Western Regional Convention
earlier this year in Long Beach, Calif. From left: Crislove Igeleke,
Mahogany Turfley, Scott Morris, Steven “JT” Washington, and
Loline-Marie Djidade.
At the regional level, the chapter walked away with several awards, including: Western Region Chapter of the Year for its outstanding contributions to the law school and the Las Vegas valley; President of the Year to Scott Morris, chapter president and newly elected sub-regional director; Sister in Service Award (for service to Boyd and the community) to Crislove Igeleke, chapter vice president of operations and philanthropy; Brother in Service Award to Steven “JT” Washington; and Best Respondent Brief of the Year in the Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition to the team of Loline-Marie Djidade, chapter secretary, and Mahogany Turfley.

The evening was, however, more than just about winning. It was about peer recognition and validation that hard work pays off.

“Being recognized and honored at the convention felt good,” said Morris. “They handed the awards out at the dinner and it got to the point where they were repeatedly calling the Boyd School of Law up for awards. And this was in front of people we’ve known for a long time … law students from Whittier Law School, UCLA, USC, and we were number one … it felt good to just be in front of your peers and recognized on that level because we put in a lot of hard work, strategy, time, and planning making things happen so I think it was a big boost of confidence for our chapter and affirmed we were on the right track.”

The chapter returned triumphant with more than half of the evening’s awards, a regional convention success, said Igeleke.

“​We were all very thrilled with the success of the team and our BLSA chapter, but even more grateful to be part of a law school that has prepared us academically and greatly supports leadership and service in the community,” she said. “Our success is a reflection of this great law school community we have here at Boyd.”

Morris echoed Igeleke’s sentiments, adding it even “engaged membership because they could see how planning evolved into a successful showing at the convention.”

More importantly, the organization’s success was a way to represent Boyd, Morris said.

“I think it was a good way to represent the Boyd School of Law because we have so many good things here: so many great programs, so many great students, so many great people, and professors. I think it was time for us to be recognized on a regional scale – not just here in Las Vegas, because we have a very good reputation here – but I think it was time to highlight the good things that we’re doing on a broader level … We’re known for our legal writing, and for Loline-Marie and Mahogany to receive the Best Respondent Brief of the Year just highlights and gives more credibility to the fact that we have a fantastic writing program here.”

The Western Region of the BLSA includes law schools in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The National Black Law Students Association is the largest student-run organization in the nation, with six regions representing more than 6,000 members.