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Wayne Law welcomes incoming class

August 29, 2014

DETROIT – Classes are in full swing for the 119 members of the incoming class at Wayne State University Law School.

They hail from 33 colleges and universities, where they pursued undergraduate and graduate majors in 36 different fields of study, including business administration, chemistry, economics, electrical engineering, journalism and music.

They range in age from 21 to 72, and all but eight of the students are from Michigan.

Ninety-three of the 119 are day program students, 15 are in the law school’s evening program and 11 are in a combined program of day and evening classes. The median LSAT score of the class is 156, and the median grade point average is 3.29.

Admitted students are chosen by the Wayne Law Admissions Committee based on academic achievement, potential and a diverse array of personal attributes. And the first-year students chose to attend Wayne Law for their own diverse array of reasons.

For the class of 2017’s oldest member, 72-year-old Thomas Roth of Northville, it was past experience with WSU that led him to choose the university’s law school for further studies.

“I taught in the Psychiatry Department at WSU Medical Center, and I was very impressed with the quality of scholarship,” Roth said. “My wife graduated from Wayne and remembers her days there as very positive. My family is committed to living in the Detroit metropolitan area.”

Why the challenge of law school for the senior citizen who holds a doctorate in experimental psychology from the University of Cincinnati and has spent his career doing well-recognized sleep research and sleep medicine?

“As I approached my 70th birthday, I began seriously thinking about the future,” Roth said. “Several things became evident. Expanding my curriculum vitae to 700 publications from the current 650 is not a worthy goal. Secondly, the open scientific questions that I might successfully investigate in the foreseeable future would not require any new methods, nor would they present deep scientific challenges to me. Instead, I concluded that I could continue to be productive and make contributions to society while remaining intellectually stimulated through the study and practice of law.”

He’s not sure yet what field of law he’d like to pursue, but he plans to use his scientific background in some manner of legal practice, he said. He has served as an expert witness in several legal cases dealing with accidents where drivers fell asleep at the wheel and as an expert in patent cases dealing with sleep promoting. And he’s served as a consultant to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and to industry involving new medications. All of those experiences deepened his lifelong interest in law.

Roth studied the Talmud (ancient Hebraic law) at length as a child and found it fascinating.

“During high school, I realized that the attraction was the intellectual challenge,” he said. “The logic of the subject held a great attraction for me. It was not until much later than I began to appreciate the fact that the law is the key underpinning of an organized society.”

For first-year student Amy Huang of Farmington Hills, studying law is a goal that synchs with her intense interest in promoting social justice.

“My parents immigrated to America so I would have the opportunity to pursue the American Dream, and education is the avenue through which I pursued it,” Huang said.

She grew up in Chicago, holds a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Southern California and participated in Teach for America for two years helping students at Detroit’s Mumford High School learn math as well as life skills to help them succeed.

“Teach for America’s vision is this: ‘One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education,’ ” Huang said “Teach for America strives toward this vision by placing corps members in high-need urban and rural public schools to create change one classroom at a time and by fostering the leadership of its alumni to address the problem of educational inequity across all sectors. I felt compelled to join Teach for America because I am a proud product of Chicago Public Schools, and I view education as a social justice issue. I wanted to give opportunities to students growing up in low-income communities to pursue their American Dream.”

Huang herself grew up in a low-income household and knows exactly what a difference education can make.

Her father died when she was 10, leaving her mother struggling to support the small family working as a low-paid seamstress at a job where she wasn’t required to speak English. Huang worked hard, too, to honor her mother’s sacrifices.

“I worked tirelessly through a public, under-funded elementary school and graduated as valedictorian to earn my way into a magnet public high school,” Huang said.

As a teacher at Mumford, she grew close to many of her students and still keeps in contact with them. She chose to stay in Detroit, close to those students, and to attend Wayne Law in the heart of the city.

“I hope to continue my impact in Detroit,” Huang said. “The revitalization movement is an exciting moment in history for the city, yet there is so much more work to do. I carry with me the stories of growing up in Detroit that my students have so generously shared with me.”

By practicing business law after graduation, Huang hopes to help entrepreneurs in Detroit and bring about positive change in the city.

“I believe the best chance we have at revitalizing a city is through developing businesses, helping entrepreneurs succeed and bolstering job creation and growth,” she said. “The legal field has proven to be at the forefront of wrestling with the toughest social issues of our time and making the American Dream attainable by more and more Americans.

For more information about attending Wayne Law, contact the law school’s Admissions Office at lawinquire@wayne.edu or 313-577-3937.

Photos: Thomas Roth and Amy Huang

Advocating for justice, serving the community, revitalizing Detroit and Michigan