Behind the Scenes at BLS: Natasha Okoye

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We’re pleased to welcome everyone back for the new term, and are looking forward to getting to know those of you who have just joined. With Behind the Scenes at BLS we talk to a different member of our community and share their stories with you online. This week we’ve met…

Natasha Okoye (she/her)

BLS Student and BAME Community Champion

The thing I enjoy most about learning the law is how far reaching it is. There is always something interesting to look into or talk about as the law touches every area of our life. We can see the things we learn in our degree being debated and played out in the media all of the time. Even public law has been made interesting recently by the events occurring in Parliament! The study of the law also allows you to learn so much about a country, its culture and its people’s way of life. On my year abroad to Hong Kong, I was able to learn about their history, their values, their attitudes to family, to business and to education all through studying their laws and legal system. The opportunity to do a year abroad is an incredible feature of the law degree at Birmingham and one that everyone should consider taking.

One of the great things about being part of Birmingham Law School is that the faculty staff really care about their students and the issues that impact them. They have a real desire to see every student do well.

In my second year I was part of an initiative set up by Dr Ben Warwick called BAME Community Champions. This was created in order to address the attainment gap that persists between BAME students and white students in the law school. We were tasked with finding ways to address this problem and to gauge the experiences of Black and ethnic minority students in the law school. This led us to organising a discussion event called “Starting Conversation: Race in the Law School”. It was an incredibly moving event in which students were able to share their thoughts and experiences to a panel of staff.

Following this we were asked to write a report on our findings which was shared around the faculty and the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education and gave a presentation to the Law School Faulty at their staff conference. The feedback was very well received by the law school with committees being set up to address the issues raised. Many lectures have also worked to implement discussions of race and the impact of colonialism into the curriculum and Dr Natasa Mavronicola has already done great work on this by creating the first-year module Decolonising Legal Concepts.

There are also great opportunities within BLS to get involved with societies. This year, I am part of the first committee of the Women in Law Society. Our aim as a society is to encourage the diversification of the legal profession, to create a supportive network of students and to foster connections between students and people already in the profession. The society is open to everyone, regardless of gender and from all degree courses and is a really great way to meet other students and find motivation and encouragement.