🤘STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Sheela Ranganathan ’22

For this edition of Texas Law’s Student Spotlight series, meet 2L Sheela Ranganathan, Human Rights Scholar at the Rapoport Center, Vice President of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, and Co-Founder of Law Students for Black Lives!

Q: What sort of things are you engaged in at law school?

As Vice President of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, I’ve been planning events to help 1Ls think through various career paths and building relationships with other affinity groups and public interest organizations. I also initiated a new mentorship pod program for APALSA in which first year students are placed in mentorship groups with other students from all years, legal interests, and geographic areas. Similarly, as a Dean’s Fellow, I mentor first year law students in Martinez Society on all law school things, including professional, academic and social contexts. I am also a student advisor on the Texas Law Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, where I strategize with staff and faculty members on how to promote an inclusive educational environment at UT Law.

Additionally, I helped Alyssa Gordon and Ayo Adaranijo to co-found Law Students for Black Lives over the summer, which has become a 160-member organization dedicated to eradicating racial disparities at the law school and beyond. With the incredible efforts of our fundraising manager Kallen Dimitroff and other student leaders, we have already raised over $15,000 towards scholarships for Black UT Law students and connected with various community members about pro bono projects and advocacy days.

As a Human Rights Scholar, I’ve been working with the Rapoport Center on a variety of projects. Some of my work is more administrative- helping draft newsletters for our pop-up institute on labor, designing programs for events, etc. I also attend the Center’s events and research various topics — I just wrote a memo about the policy implications of portable benefits. As a part of the Center’s Working Group on Health and Human Rights, I’ve also been working with a few students and professors at Dell Medical School and the Law School to publish a paper on policy proposals responding to the effects of COVID-19 in ICE facilities.

It’s been a really busy semester, but I love having a packed extracurricular life as I’ve gotten the chance to make deep connections with a diverse range of incredible students and faculty from all over the law school and beyond. Additionally, by participating in these organizations, I’ve realized a passion for advocating for diversity, inclusion, and equity in academic and professional spaces.

Q: What has been the best surprise about your law school experience?

Though law school can be exhausting and stressful at times, I have never felt the pressure to compete with anyone other than myself at Texas Law – rather, I have found a supportive community and lifelong friends. For example, last year, the women in my 1L section had a group chat that was pretty much solely dedicated to cheering each other on when we had successful cold calls. The best surprise about my law school experience is that it feels like there are tons of people just waiting to help me by offering advice, editing resumes, setting up networking calls, or just holding space to listen to confused rambles.

Q: What do you like about going to school in Austin?

I like everything about going to school in Austin! I was born and raised in Tampa and went to school in Washington, DC. Austin has the perfect balance of both cities – it almost always has great weather and fun outdoor activities, and it has the exciting hustle and bustle of a capital city, especially with the upcoming legislative session. Austin is also full of live music, secluded trails, and warm people. It’s easy to find study breaks that completely take my mind off of school when I need it, and during the pandemic it has been easy to stay safe and socially distant while still seeing my friends!