Manal Al-ansi

Manal Al-ansi

Class of 2016

B.A., Sociology; B.S., Health Informatics and Health Management
University of Washington

What did you do before law school, and what led to you pursue a law degree?

As the president of the African Students Association at UW and the founder of ASA Outreach, I knew that with my leadership positions came responsibility. I used every resource that became available to me to give back to my community and initiated an outreach program to provide underserved youth with support in pursuing a higher education. This effort grew into an ongoing program between UW and the inner-city schools of Seattle. I ultimately was awarded the UW Outstanding Service Award.

I used what I learned about public service and leadership to serve as a Teach for America educator in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from Georgia State University with a master’s in teaching. As an educator, I realized that my classroom culture, curriculum, and resources were dictated largely by policy and legislation beyond my control. In turn, so were my students' trajectories. I worked relentlessly to break away from the norms of a traditional classroom and tried to give my students a unique experience and equal education. However, I continued to feel the restraints of the traditional ideals and laws in place.

This glimpse into how our legal system can reinforce or ratify disparities in various communities led me to pursue an education in law. I needed to understand the one thing that all of my efforts relied upon. I recognized that in all of my positions, both past and present, I stood as an advocate for a cause or people. With advocacy as a common thread, I knew that I needed the knowledge, access, and ability to stand strong in the face of the law, whether as an ally or opponent. A legal education at Seattle U School of Law gives me that opportunity.

What activities are you involved in at the law school or in the community?

I am the current president of the Black Law Students Association and am initiating a BLSA Bridge program with my fellow board members. This program is creating a new pipeline from inner-city high schools, to undergrad, to law school, and finally into our legal community.

I also serve as a member of Moot Court Board, the Moot Court Competition, and the Intellectual Property Law Society. These activities have honed my speaking, advocacy, and critical thinking skills. I have also gained exposure to the trial process and the world of IP.

Moreover, I volunteer with Seattle's Ethiopian community. I assist in accessing resources in health care and immigration, and I help bring light to the issues faced in this minority community.

What have you found most valuable during your law school education?

The first thing that comes to mind is recognizing the privileged position we are in. Not only are we in a position to fully understand and protect the rights of others, but we have the knowledge and sense of entitlement needed to protect our own individual rights. With this knowledge comes power, prestige, and privilege. Recognizing that relationship helped me better understand society as a whole.

Law school has also taught me how to think critically. I've learned to analyze a situation and think it through from beginning to end. I found this skill and lesson most valuable because I now am able to problem-solve logically, objectively, and effectively — all skills that a successful attorney needs.

What advice would you offer a prospective law student?

My main advice is to consider qualitative factors in deciding on which law school to attend, and believe in yourself. In choosing a law school, look to the programming, the school's culture, and the support systems in place. You will find that these factors may be what make or break your law school experience. Also, it is essential that you continue to believe in yourself, even in your most vulnerable moments. Remember that there is a reason that you made it this far, and that this process and experience is new to everyone, so do not feel insecure. Confidently ask questions, whether they're related to curriculum or simply life in law school. We've all been there.

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