Since its founding nearly 20 years ago, A Better Chance of Westport has had many success stories.
Graduates of the program — through which academically gifted, economically disadvantaged and highly motivated young men of color attend Staples High School, live together with house parents on North Avenue, and give back as much to the town as they get — have gone on to top colleges, and careers in law, finance, business, medicine and the non-profit world.
“06880” has joyfully chronicled many of those achievements.
Add Emerson Lovell to that remarkable list.
Yesterday in Washington, DC, the 2012 Staples and 2016 Duke University political science graduate did something no Howard University School of Law student has done in nearly 10 years.
He graduated first out of 137 students in his class, with the highest academic honor distinction: summa cum laude. The few Howard Law students who earned the same distinction include Goler Teal Butcher in 1957, and Ritu Narula (2010).
At Howard, the Harlem native was vice president of his class, a senior staff editor for the Howard Law Journal, and a student attorney for the Investor Justice and Education Clinic.
“It seems to me it would be difficult to remain humble and quiet and just do your work,” says associate dean of academic affairs Lisa Crooms-Robinson. “But that’s exactly what he did. So unless you were paying really close attention, it’s like ‘surprise!’ I’m incredibly happy for him. He earned every single point.”
“This is a moment of pride for the entire law school community,” adds Danielle Holley-Walker, dean of Howard Law.
“Emerson dedicated himself for 3 years to achieve this goal. His tremendous commitment and talent have paid off. The Howard Law community celebrates this moment with Emerson and his family.”
Emerson says the people around him gave him what he needed to earn the top spot in his class.
“My professors challenged me to be great both inside of the classroom and in life,” he said. “My colleagues ignited my competitive nature and cheered me on. The faculty members always provided a listening ear to help soothe my mind when the challenges of the real world felt like too much.”
He notes the importance of a support group. It should be diverse, and include “colleagues, mentors inside and outside of the field, and family.”
ABC was part of that support group. David and Lori Sochol — Westporters who have long served in leadership roles in the organization — were in Washington yesterday, proudly watching Emerson’s hisoric graduation.
The next step: he has been hired by Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton, the global firm specializing in financial law. He’ll work in their New York office.
Congratulations and good luck, Emerson.
And kudos to your ABC family too!
(For more information on A Better Chance of Westport, click here.)