Here is a dispatch from Lydia Hanhardt, Director of our Diversity Programs:
June 27 was not an ordinary day at the law school. It marked the arrival of a small, but dynamic group of high school students, joined by their teacher, to the inaugural Marine Law Experience at RWU Law. A collaboration between the Office of Diversity and Outreach and the Marine Affairs Institute, the Experience brought six young diverse people to campus to help them prepare for college, and then hopefully law school, by capitalizing on their interest in Marine Law and Policy, a center of excellence at RWU Law. All are students who attend the New York Harbor School which has a strong Marine focus, and they came to RI to get a week of intense exposure to the complexity of Marine Law and to the range of marine issues that RWU SOL students study.
In addition to classes on Piracy, Marine Resource Management, and the (excuse the pun) explosive issue of building a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in nearby Mt. Hope Bay, the NY6 (rising seniors Alpha, Amarilys, Ashley, Litcy, and Orlando and junior Patricia) took field trips to Save the Bay, the RWU Wet Lab, the Matunuck Oyster Farm, and the URI Graduate School of Oceanography (organized and hosted by RI Sea Grant). They also met with attorneys and judges from the Coast Guard, Conservation Law Foundation, RI Attorney General’s Office, District Court, and private practice.
As befitting the law school setting, the capstone was a moot court competition. Coached by 3Ls Justin Pruett and Tysha Vaughn, the NY6 broke into two groups to argue a case involving a death at a LNG facility. The presiding “judges” were Wendy Waller ‘02 (Save the Bay), Professor Dennis Esposito, and Susan Farady, Director of our Marine Affairs Institute. In our large appellate courtroom, these students shined – showing how much they had learned, while making manifest the importance of such “pipeline” initiatives.
At the end of the Experience one student announced that he never thought that he would be interested in the law, as he said he was “one tough nut to crack.” But walking away from the week he now has added “lawyer" to his list of future career paths. However, regardless of what he, or the others do in the future, I know they have the tools and personal abilities to achieve their dreams. As one student wrote “without as doubt, this is one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. You’ve helped us to sharpen our skills that would not only be applicable to the law, but to everything in life such as listening, speaking, and critical thinking.”
Here are some pictures from the Experience.