Zoë Harris, a second-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, has been named the 2020 Dean’s Fellow of the Year.
After growing up in Camden, Arkansas, Harris attended college at UA Little Rock and earned her undergraduate degree in criminal justice. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college.
Her determination led her to finish both high school and her undergraduate studies a year early. When she applied to Bowen, she hit an LSAT-sized roadblock.
“I took the test twice, and my scores weren’t great,” she said. “It was incredibly humbling.”
Based on the strength of the rest of her application, Harris was offered a chance to enroll in Bowen’s LEAP program. LEAP, which stands for Legal Education Advancement Program, is designed to assist dedicated students who have the teamwork, leadership, drive, and academic skills necessary to complete law school and pass the bar exam. This six-week, immersive, summer program requires a full-time commitment.
“Bowen offered me the opportunity to prove I belonged here, and I’m very proud of being a student in the program,” she said. “I’ve worked hard to continue proving I belong here every day.”
The LEAP program required that Harris begin law school as a part-time student in Bowen’s evening division. As a first-year student, she also participated in Bowen’s Student Success Program. She and her fellow team members met regularly with a dean’s fellow. This upper-level student developed lesson plans on topics including goal setting, case briefing, outlining, study skills, stress management, and test-taking strategies. Harris’s dean’s fellow was Kishma Francis.
“When you come into law school, you are a chicken with its head cut off. Once you step foot on this campus, you have entered a whole new world. You know nothing, and without a good guide you don’t get better,” Harris said. “I was that student. There were a lot of things I didn’t know. Kishma was a great guide, and I wanted to be that person for someone else.”
As a dean’s fellow, in addition to lesson plans and guidance, Harris advised her students to be humble. That’s advice she also wants to pass along to future law students.
“So many students were at the top of their class as an undergraduate, but law school is full of people who were at the top of their class,” she said. “If you aren’t humble enough to learn, to be open to criticism and feedback, you don’t grow.”