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Graduating law student plans to expand nonprofit organization to mentor girls

Shaquika (Shay) Randolph
Shaquika (Shay) Randolph

Shaquika (Shay) Randolph is passionate about two things: people and helping children. Those interests have led her from Arkansas, through Georgia and Mississippi, and finally home—and to Bowen.

After finishing high school in North Little Rock, Randolph enrolled at Spelman College, an all-women HBCU in Atlanta. Following Spelman, the first-generation college graduate went to work for Teach for America and was placed in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

She taught seventh grade English and reading and an eighth-grade ACT prep class to get students ready for high school. She also chartered the school’s National Honor Society. In addition, she coached the dance team, taught summer school, and served as the English tutor in the tutoring program. Because of her hard work and dedication, Randolph received her school’s Teacher of the Year Award during her second year of teaching.

Following Teach for America, Randolph chose Bowen because she wanted a school where advocacy and service mattered. Bowen felt like the place for her. While going to law school had been a long-term goal since the age of eight, it was a difficult decision.

“I loved the classroom,” she said. “I loved it so much that I thought about not going to law school.”

Her involvement inside and outside the classroom made her committed to being an advocate and making a difference to underserved communities. That experience led her back to law, where she knew she could make the most difference.

“I left one classroom as a teacher but came into another as a student,” she said.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that she’s been an involved Bowen student. Last year, she was president of Bowen’s chapter of the Black Law Students Association. This year, she is the full-time vice president for the Student Bar Association, a member of the trial team, and the Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Service. She is also serving for a second year on the Dean’s Student Advisory Committee. She is a member of the legal fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta, which she has been involved in since she was a student at Spelman.

The trial team traveled to Buffalo, New York, for a competition in late 2019. Randolph got to compete as defense counsel.

“It was a nice introduction to get practical trial experience and to see how your law school courses relate to each other,” Randolph said. “We met students from various law schools, but we also got to bond with our Bowen colleagues, especially since we got snowed in and had to stay an extra night.”

Randolph has gotten more practical experience by service on the Dean’s Student Advisory Committee, which consists of selected members of student organizations. The committee serves as a liaison between the students and the dean. Two of their most visible accomplishments are better food options at the law school (and availability for part-time students) and new pedestrian crossings and speed bumps in the parking lot.

She has also been able to pursue her writing skills and her passion for people with the Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Service. This online journal allows students to explore social issues and public service matters and use the platform to address the community. Randolph’s first blog was on the recent issues faced by the Little Rock School District, and she’s had a great response to it.

Of all her experiences at Bowen, Randolph’s most beneficial and memorable one was her judicial externship with Judge Waymond Brown in the Court of Appeals.

“It was my first important legal experience. Judge Brown gave me meaningful experiences for research and writing, and I was able to reinforce my RWA skills,” Randolph said. “It exposed me to so much and connected me to people in the legal community.”

This semester, Randolph is clerking at the Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney’s office. Since she is Rule XV eligible, she spends time in court speaking on behalf of the county during first appearances and preparing for trials for lower-level misdemeanors. She is working in all areas of the office: complaints, court, and at the police station.

After graduation, Randolph wants to expand the nonprofit organization she founded in 2012, while she was a student at Spelman.

My GIRLS, Gifted Individuals Reaching Levels of Success, works with girls in urban areas and inner cities by providing them access to resources and role models. Participants range from elementary school to high school ages. Girls are paired with young women who are currently in college. Each chapter does community service projects, hosts self-development workshops, and mentors participants. They help guide the girls through high school, apply to college, and get financial aid.

There are three chapters: at Spelman College, in Mississippi, and in Arkansas. The student chapter at Spelman is still active, and the Arkansas chapter has 20 girls participating. Randolph was awarded the Dean’s Certificate of Public Service for her work with My GIRLS.

She has also received the Barrister’s Award for Achievement in the Field of Trial Advocacy, Top Paper in Child Welfare Practice, and BLSA’s Judge Olly Neal 2018-2019 Award for her dedication to social justice, leadership, and academic excellence. The Student Success Team (SST) Randolph led last semester won SST of the year and wrote the Class of 2020 Oath of Professionalism. In her first year of law school, Randolph was named the Black Law Student Association Outstanding 1L.

Randolph is a great example of a Bowen student. Her experiences and passions have informed her legal studies, and her legal career will no doubt reflect that.