Considering Law School? Join the Champions.

Want to become a champion?

Read about our exceptional students, and why they chose to become South Texas champions.

Brittny M.

Brittny M.

With 10 years of experience in education, Brittny Mandarino saw a startling gap in students’ access to resources tied to socioeconomic issues. Students from lower-income families frequently have limited education experiences and tools. As time goes on, these same students often make their way into the juvenile justice system. 

“I felt that I couldn’t do enough to help as a school administrator,” Mandarino said. “I needed to find a way to keep growing as a professional, an educator, an advocate, and a leader.”

A colleague told her, “For women and especially women of color, you need a J.D. in order to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with the policymakers in Austin and to bring about real change.”

After much consideration, Mandarino applied to schools nationwide and was offered substantial scholarships from other law schools. However, STCL Houston was still the most affordable. She also learned that South Texas alumni comprise over 25 percent of Houston’s legal workforce, presenting strong networking and internship opportunities. 

“You can go anywhere to learn the law,” Mandarino added. “You come to South Texas to learn how to be a lawyer who contributes meaningfully.” 

Gerald R.

Gerald R.

Gerald Ruiz recognized small businesses and communities needed legal help with transactional matters. He saw how underrepresented entities lost money and how it affected people. Ruiz knew he needed to go to law school to help them. 

Unfortunately, balancing a full-time job while attending law school is no easy task. After researching different programs, Ruiz decided South Texas College of Law Houston was the right choice. Now in his second year, Ruiz finds the school to be really accommodating. South Texas welcomes students who need to work part-time and full-time while pursuing their law degrees. That, coupled with some flexibility offered by his employer and the support of his family, has allowed him to focus on school and take a role helping fellow students. 

“I’ve been able to apply for programs and even become a Langdell [scholar],” he said. “I’m really grateful for everything South Texas has done for me.” 

The Langdell Scholar Program is a unique skill-building program in which upper- level students like Ruiz are nominated by faculty to give back. The Langdells help fellow students learn the critical skills needed to be successful in law school. 

“I really enjoy when students come to me at the end of a semester and thank me for helping them,” he said. “I get a lot out of being a small part of their success and knowing that I was able to help them.” 

Mai K.

Mai K.

In 2007, at the age of 21, Mai Kelley moved from her native country of Vietnam to the United States. Mai’s mission from her mother was clear: to learn fluent English and support herself. Mai is honoring those wishes.

Influenced by her mother’s ability to carefully weigh decisions and genuinely care for others, Kelley initially considered a career in other fields until learning more about the legal system as she became a U.S citizen. Honoring her commitment to her mother, Kelley works full-time during the day and attends South Texas College of Law Houston at night as a part-time student.

“South Texas has made it very achievable for me to juggle between life, school, and work,” Kelley said. “I’ve had the honor to study with some of the most sought-after law professors and national speakers here, even as a night student. I don’t know if you would get the same level of dedication from the faculty elsewhere.”

After interning for the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General Corps in summer 2019, Kelley plans to graduate in December 2021. She hopes to become a Navy judge advocate, advising commanders on crucial legal steps in the midst of war zones worldwide. 

It’s a courageous outlook from a student maximizing her opportunities.

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