Students from the University of St. Thomas School of Law swept this year’s scholarships at the 2023 Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers Gala. Three St. Thomas law students were honored for the work they do both on and off campus. Nominated by law school faculty, each student expressed their gratitude at being selected by the MABL scholarship committee.
Marian Farah, 2L
Judge Michael J. Davis Scholar
Recommender: Professor Mark Osler
Marian Farah is a second-year law student at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, emerging as a trailblazer in both her academic and community pursuits. As the recipient of the Judge Michael J. Davis Scholarship, she will have an opportunity for an externship in Davis’ chambers in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.
“I cannot wait to learn from him. I plan on making the most of this opportunity and glean valuable insights from the experience,” said Farah, who was also a summer associate with the law firm Stoel Rives LLP, a legal intern with UnitedHealth Group and is currently a part-time law clerk at Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, P.A.
Farah serves as the president of the Black Law Student Association, president of the American Constitution Society, secretary of the Anti-Racism Alliance, and is the 2L representative in the First-Generation Law Student Association. Farah also volunteers with the UPLIFT Legal Institute, conducting mock trials with students from two middle schools, an experience at Maslon LLP that she said is very fulfilling.
A native of Ontario, Canada, Farah is the first in her family to attend law school and acknowledges the unwavering support of her family. “Despite being unfamiliar with the intricacies of law school, they have stood by my side,” she said.
Professor Mark Osler, who nominated Farah, said: “After tests, she wanted to know how she could do better, and in discussion, she wanted to know how we can all do better.”
As for advice to incoming law students, she emphasized the importance of building a strong support system and not being afraid to ask questions. “You can’t do it alone and shouldn’t do it alone. There are people who want to support you,” she said. “Build those relationships.”
She would also encourage new students to stay resilient in the face of challenges, seek mentorship and actively engage in networking opportunities within the legal community. She said she believes in the power of perseverance, a proactive approach and leveraging resources to make the most of the law school experience.
Abdulla A. “Abdi” Ali, 2L
Judge Pamela G. Alexander Scholar
Recommender: Associate Professor Rachel Moran
Second-year St. Thomas law student Abdulla “Abdi” Ali emerges as a beacon of compassion, commitment, and community engagement in both his academic and personal pursuits. Originally from Nairobi, Kenya, Ali brings a unique perspective to the legal field.
“Abdulla is a force for change,” said St. Thomas law school alumna Jules Porter ’17 J.D./MBA, who served as a judge on the MABL scholarship committee. “Abdulla is a first-generation college graduate and a refugee who has transcended barriers. His personal experiences fuel his pursuits – from advocating for and joining the campaigns of Black candidates he believes in to diversifying campus resources with halal options and prayer spaces to mentoring high school students and serving as an advocate in St. Thomas’ Criminal and Juvenile Defense Clinic.”
When he was a first-year law student, he took on the role of a student government 1L class representative, showcasing leadership and a commitment to his fellow students. His involvement in various community-centric activities, including a strong commitment to racial equity, was evident even as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota.
“During my time as an undergraduate, I was very invested in tackling issues of over-policing in the city and economic disparity and disproportionate impacts that has on the African American community,” he said.
He also dedicates time to mentoring, having helped youth at the local Jack and Jill of America. “I believe that providing individuals with the resources to obtain a higher education degree is exactly what we need to be doing as a community because it leads to more opportunities,” Ali said. “Education truly saved me, and I think that it can do that for others as well.”
Ashley Nicole Lewis, 3L
Attorney William E. McGee Scholar
Recommender: Dr. Artika Tyner ’06 J.D., ’10 MPP, ’12 EdD
Ashley Lewis, a dedicated third-year St. Thomas law student, was honored with the prestigious William McGee Scholarship, a recognition that speaks volumes about her commitment and potential.
Lewis acknowledges the influence of her parents, who both have doctorate degrees. "My parents instilled in me servanthood and serving other people without having to get anything back," she said.
She is an active participant in the Black Law Student Association and serves as a St. Thomas Law student ambassador, volunteering her time with Resurrecting Faith World Ministries outreach and teen ministry and the Pink Purse Project.
“Ashley aspires to be a litigator, but more importantly a change agent for improvements of the court system based on her vast experience,” said Zaylore Stout ’10 J.D., a MABL board member who served on the scholarship committee and received the McGee scholarship when he was a St. Thomas law school student.
She also gained extensive experience in the court system when she served as a senior court clerk at Hennepin County District Court in Minnesota and as lead intern at the Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona. She also served as an AmeriCorps member at the law library resource center.
As Lewis’ academic journey nears its culmination, she expressed profound excitement about joining the fight for justice as a licensed attorney. Lewis, who served as a clerk at Siegel Brill, P.A. in Minneapolis, eagerly awaits the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.
Reflecting on her law school experience, she shares invaluable advice for aspiring law students. “Put God first, discover your purpose and take advantage of every opportunity that aligns with your purpose,” she said.