Emayzyah Reeves, the first Black president of the Pre-Law Society, takes the stand with grace and prosperity. The senior business administration major is the definition of Black girl magic, but the road to where she is now wasn’t easy. She remembers what brought her to where she is today and continues to use it as motivation for where she is going.
Reeves realized she wanted to be the change she wanted to see once she started taking classes at Montclair State University, where her love for law blossomed. But her journey didn’t start here. It started when she was a little girl sitting in her eighth grade class, where a lawyer spoke to her about the practice.
Reeves’ “why” also weighs heavily on her experiences and the circumstances that she observes Black and Latinos going through in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey. She wasn’t always sure that she wanted to be a lawyer, but she knew she wanted to dilute the prevalent racial inequality in disenfranchised communities, like the one she grew up in. She wanted to be a part of a movement that worked toward future generations not having to experience this harsh reality.
“Growing up in Newark, New Jersey, you see a lot of [incarceration and violence], so I’ve never felt safe,” Reeves said. “So I always wanted to do something in law enforcement. But then I [diverted] into diving deeper into other professions, like being a lawyer, because I do want to help my community.”
It is evident that the future attorney at law doesn’t forget where she’s from, as she makes it a goal to be the lawyer for people who don’t have enough money to access legal services in low-income communities.
“I’m interested in getting into pro bono,” Reeves said. “I’m interested in being that lawyer for people for free or low cost because it’s needed. I feel like everyone needs a lawyer at some point in their lives.”
The aspiring first-generation lawyer already started to be a part of a pivotal moment when she saw that something was missing when started at Montclair State. She saw that the Pre-Law Society wasn’t really active, and she was driven to change that.
Since then she has participated in mock trials, taken part in Law School Admission Test (LSAT) preparation and has visited law schools with her team.
As the president of the Pre-Law Society, she has the power to inspire many. And she expresses one of her purposes as highlighting the significance of diversity. Her actions follow her words, as people of color have joined, and showed respect for what she’s doing.
To make the Pre-Law Society more active, she organizes “case spotlights” in which she invites professors, politicians, law students and attorneys to highlight different cases.
“The recent one we did was the Parkland shooting and we talked about the death penalty,” Reeves said. “One of my professors [Andrew Fede], [spoke] and he gave his opinions, which performed well too. So we’re looking forward to more topics and guest speakers in the future.”
Along with case spotlights, the organization partners with Blueprint LSAT Prep in order to prepare students to pass the LSAT, considering that it can be arguably difficult paying for prep tutoring services.
Reeves is indisputably leaving a positive legacy at Montclair State, and setting the standard for the incoming executive board. She encourages people to attend even if they don’t know much about law, and argues bringing your passion and interests also helps the organization grow as a team.
“Don’t hesitate to ask questions,” Reeves said. “Even give your suggestions as far as what you would like to see in the organization, because we’re student-run, so it’s based on what members want to [do] as well.”
As Reeves is making history, she wants people to know that even though she’s a leader, she is human too and has gone through trials and adversity throughout her journey. People tell her that being a lawyer is not realistic, which at times makes her feel discouraged.
“I feel like knowing your purpose, knowing what your ‘why’ is and why you want to pursue a certain career is important,” Reeves said. “This [is] what keeps me going. Because sometimes I do get discouraged. But when I think about why I’m doing this. I get right back into the swing of things.”
She sticks to her truths, and constantly taps into the same passion she found as a little girl when she sat in her eighth-grade class listening to the inspiring lawyer. It’s not only her passion that keeps her flame but also the wise words of her late grandmother.
“My grandmother passed away in 2020,” Reeves said. “But the thing she last mentioned to me is it’s always important to be an advocate. She was really big on advocacy. So I’ve gotten that inspiration from her to keep going. That’s the whole point [of] being a lawyer, is to advocate.”
In the future, she plans on attending the University of Miami School of Law and has even considered pursuing interests in entertainment and sports law.
Reeves continues to show the people who are consistently trying to pull her down her footstool that they are wrong through her perseverance.
“Know that there’s going to be people that discourage you in life, especially if you’re doing something big,” Reeves said. “So you just have to remain grounded and know that if it’s in your heart to do something, just do it.”
Black is winning. Nothing further. Court is adjourned.