Current students Reiley and Katie traveled to Utah last month to meet with students at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. Read about their trip, and their reflections on supporting Latter-day Saint women aspiring to Harvard Law School.
Hi! Reiley and Katie here. We love being students at HLS and value our identity as budding attorneys. Being women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is another important part of our identity. We both realized last year that we wished there were more LDS women at HLS and quickly discovered that if we wanted that to become a reality, we would need to help more LDS women apply. The Dean of Students Office was generous enough to sponsor a trip to Brigham Young University and the University of Utah for just this purpose. We had an amazing experience!
On day one at BYU, we got to speak in front of a pre-law lecture class of 250 students. We shared our distinct backgrounds as well as our different paths to and through law school. Then, we spent the rest of the afternoon meeting around 50 fabulous women in various stages of considering and applying to law school. In each space we tried to emphasize that there is no singular way to be a competitive HLS student (or an LDS woman in higher education, for that matter). Between the two of us, we capture a lot of the varied demographics and experiences of our HLS class as well as our group of Harvard Law Latter-day Saints (HLLDS students) on campus: married/single, BYU grad/UNLV grad, Humanities background/STEM background, waitlisted/quick acceptance, the list goes on.
Day two brought us to the University of Utah where we met with nine driven women. We spent almost three hours answering questions and giving advice. Overall, it was a beautiful experience. We felt like we were able to create this space where LDS women could not only express their dreams for excellence but also (maybe for the first time) realize those dreams are achievable. Additionally, we let all the students know that we want to create a stronger connection between current LDS women at HLS and future LDS women at HLS. We expressed over and over our desire to be a resource they could contact at any time in this sometimes messy process!
The women we met with had such earnest questions. We were asked how our experience at Harvard Law School has helped strengthen our faith. Women also asked about the financial investment, about being far from home, and about the strength of the local LDS population. We let them know there is space for them at HLS and that they are worth a financial investment, however scary it may seem to move far from home or away from a large LDS population. Often LDS women with big dreams experience pushback from the very culture that teaches them of their inherent worth and endless capacity, so we made sure to address that tension and let them know that you can continue to practice your religion and exercise your spirituality while experiencing the rigors of HLS. Law school does require a lot of work — mental, emotional, and spiritual work. We are so lucky to have a large community of HLS students, even beyond HLLDS, who are supportive and inspiring and who will change the world.