Building bridges to success

Building bridges to success

"I fell in love with Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus during my first visit," said Westchester, Illinois, native Jalen Brown (pictured center), a second-year law student. Soon after arriving at Loyola, Brown became involved in the Black Law Student Association, the Consumer Law Review, and the Frederick Douglass Moot Court team.  Brown’s team won the Midwest regional competition and he received an individual award for best oral advocate.

A recipient of a Schiff Hardin/John J. Waldron Scholarship, and a Reed Smith Deborah J. Broyles Diverse Scholar Award, Brown enjoys helping fellow students, including those attending Loyola’s Arrupe College. The two-year college was founded in 2015 and sits adjacent to the law school on Pearson Street. It acts as a bridge between high school and college for diverse, low-income, first-generation college students.

When a new mentoring program, Black Men for Success, began last fall, Brown eagerly volunteered.

"We invite a diverse group of professionals to speak on topics aimed at helping our mentees be successful," said Brown from a coffee shop near campus. He and other Loyola law students, as well as some practicing attorneys, meet every other Friday evening with about 15 Arrupe students to offer advice on navigating college life.

"We talk about ways to avoid studying distractions—video games, friends who are not in school, procrastination, social media—so they can focus on school. We also give them career advice. I think they like having a group of people who support them and want them to succeed," Brown said. "Friendships are formed."

According to Black Men for Success program director Eliot Pope, "Jalen has been instrumental in helping his mentee achieve success not only in the classroom, but in society."

At the fall term’s closing ceremony in December, mentors presented Loyola neck ties to their mentees to recognize their commitment. “The best part of this program was seeing the students return to the group in January,” said Brown, who’s leaning toward a career in commercial litigation.

"My goal as a lawyer is to help others and be a part of positive change for the future. This program teaches participants how to be better students and better men. We want them to do well in school and guide them toward pursuing a four-year degree."