As editor-in-chief of the Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy and president of the Immigration Law Society, Bahati Mutisya has not only served as a leader during her time at Wake Forest Law, but in the university’s spirit of Pro Humanitate, she has also given back to the local community by volunteering with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program.
Q: What inspired you to take up the study of law?
A: As an undergraduate, I worked as an Academic Counselor for Carnegie Mellon University’s Academic Development department. I enjoyed counseling my peers on the best methods to improve their academic performance. Students came to me with studying, test taking and time management concerns. As their counselor, I used my training to understand their unique needs and find the best solutions for them. From that experience, I learned that I wanted my career to involve advising and advocating for people.
Q: Why did you choose Wake Forest Law?
A: I chose Wake Forest because of the many unique opportunities available. For example, I was able to assist a small business client during a trip to Nicaragua as part of the Micro Trade Clinic and surf down a volcano, which has been one of the highlights of my three years here. I also chose Wake Forest because of the congenial atmosphere. After hearing horror stories from students at other law schools, it was refreshing to learn that Wake Forest fosters friendly competition and a strong support system.
Q: Who encouraged you along the path to your degree?
A: My mentor, Wake Forest Law Professor Gregory Parks, has been a significant part of my support system at Wake Forest. As one of his mentees, I had the opportunity to do interesting research projects, which helped improve my research and writing skills. He remained a great resource throughout my job search process and, as a professor, he challenged me to think critically about how social science can influence the law to address certain racial and gender injustices in this country.
I am also thankful for my support from Catharine Arrowood (’76), partner at Parker Poe Adams and Bernstein, LLP, and current president of the North Carolina Bar Association. I met her as an undergraduate intern at the North Carolina Department of Justice. Since our meeting, she has continued to advocate for me as I develop my career. I look forward to joining her and the rest of the Parker Poe family in 2016.
Q: Tell us about your experience with Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
A: I have been a “Big” with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program in Winston Salem, N.C., since my first year of law school. My time with my “Little” has been very rewarding, and I will miss her dearly. During our weekly visits, we talked about a variety of topics including her personal and academic goals. I witnessed her mature as she transitioned from a seventh grader to a freshman in high school. Working with one student may not change the world, but I have watched the world change for my Little over the past three years.
My other rewarding extra curricular activities include my work as the editor-in-chief of the Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy, serving on the Executive Board of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), working as a teaching assistant for Professor Luellen Curry’s LAWR class, organizing the Public Interest Retreat for the Public Interest Initiative, and bringing awareness about immigration issues as the president of the Immigration Law Society. While serving in each of these positions, I was reminded of the reason I chose to pursue a career as an attorney.
Q: What does earning this degree mean to you?
A: I have been a student for the majority of my life. While I know I will never stop learning, earning this degree means I am prepared to apply my academic and professional training in order to make an impact in my community. There are many paths that I can take with this degree. No matter the path, I am certain that as I strive to make a difference in the lives around me, I will experience my own positive transformation through my work.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: For my first year following graduation, I will serve as a Law Clerk for Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. After my clerkship, I will come back to my hometown of Raleigh, N.C., and join Parker Poe Adams and Bernstein, LLP.