This month, STU Law will feature some of our amazing students, faculty, and staff for #BlackHistoryMonth. Meet St. Thomas University College of Law student Gabrielle Bush (’21)!
Gabrielle Bush, 3L
St. Thomas University College of Law, Class of 2021
Ms. Bush is the Executive Online Editor St. Thomas Law Review and a member of the Black Law Student Association (BLSA).
What does Black excellence mean to you? To me, Black excellence is a phrase that describes the excellence of people who happen to be Black. These individuals have defied odds and stand out as individuals who have accomplished extraordinary feats in spite of overwhelming circumstances and conditions in opposition. They do not give up but continue to push forward despite the obstacles and challenges in their path. Individuals who exude Black excellence are not necessarily the smartest or the best equipped, but they do not let that stop them from succeeding. They often perform acts that benefit their communities and, in doing so, show us that if they can be excellent, we all can be excellent.
How do you embody Black excellence? I would in no way consider myself to be the smartest person or the best equipped, but I have defied the odds and accomplished what many would say is impossible. At the age of 14, I began taking college classes and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree at the age of 18. I then went on to earn a Master’s Degree at the age of 19. While my life may not have yet impacted the masses, my life has impacted those within my community. My educational experiences and achievements have given me a platform that allowed me to speak to various students and share some of my life experiences with them. I have been able to encourage them to achieve academic success. I have assisted many of these students by providing them with tutoring services to help them towards achieving academic success.
Why do you think it’s important to celebrate Black History Month? It is important to celebrate Black History Month because much of our history has been lost, intentionally hidden, or simply forgotten. By celebrating Black History Month, we are able to bring light to the significant accomplishments that Black people have achieved. So many of these achievements have often been thought to have been accomplished by or claimed by White people. Black History Month also gives us pride. For many years and even today, Black people were and are made to feel small when, in fact, we are great, and history shows us that. By reflecting on our history, we are reminded of who we are and the greatness that runs through our veins. While February may be the shortest month of the year, celebrating our history, the good, the bad, and the ugly, we are reminded of who we are and where we came from.
Do you have someone in the Black community that you look up to? I look up to my maternal grandparents, William and Bertha Chennault, the children of sharecroppers. Being the children of sharecroppers, my grandparents did not grow up very educated. My grandfather only had a 5th-grade education, while my grandmother had a 7th-grade education. My grandfather, a WWII veteran, and roofer, and my grandmother, a custodian, were both individuals of little means. Yet despite their limited means, they were able to support their ten children. They were able to put all 10 of their kids through college. Because of my grandparents’ sacrifice and their value on education, their children became lawyers, judges, engineers, nurses, and educators. My grandparents’ value of education was instilled in my mother and later instilled in me. My grandparents’ influence has impacted multiple generations to achieve greatness and understand the importance of not just rising up but pulling someone else up with you.
According to the ABA, only 5% of lawyers are African American. What does being a black lawyer mean to you? Being a future Black lawyer means that I am an anomaly. But there is nothing wrong with being different; rather, it is something to be embraced. Black lawyers are essential to the Black community because they are better equipped to understand the societal issues that black people face. As a future Black lawyer, I hope to be a strong voice and advocate for my community. By doing so, I hope to bring equality and justice to the Black community.
Follow Ms. Bush on Instagram @gabbybh1416.