Thurgood Marshall Legal Society Honored by NBLSA

Group photo of Thurgood Marshall Legal Society
Members of the 2023-24 Thurgood Marshall Legal Society

The National Black Law Students Association has honored the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society with its award for the country’s best medium-sized chapter. The award was announced March 9 at NBLSA’s national convention in Houston. Six members of TMLS were present to accept the award, including President Natalya Baptiste and Vice President Tionna Ryan, both ’25.

TMLS had earlier been named NBLSA’s southwest region chapter of the year. The NBLSA medium-sized chapter of the year was chosen from the six regional winners in the “medium” chapter category, which includes approximately 200 total chapters from law schools across the country. This year’s award recognized the chapter’s yearlong efforts through February 2024.

“Being named chapter of the year is truly a well-deserved recognition of the combined efforts of the current and previous board’s incredible hard work and dedication to fostering new traditions for our chapter,” says Baptiste.

The award program recognizes NBLSA chapters that exhibit excellence, showcase their programming, and advance the association’s mission “to increase the number of… Black and minority attorneys who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.” To select winning chapters, the national organization evaluates criteria including: alumni and pre-law programming, cultural awareness, academic affairs, career and professional development, social action, community service, teamwork, and attendance at events.

As part of the regional nomination process, the Texas Law chapter submitted a detailed summary of its various programs, a president’s reflection letter, a digital scrapbook, and a roster of the board and chapter members. After winning the regional award, Baptiste represented the chapter in an interview with NBLSA leadership that covered TMLS’s programming, mission, and future trajectory, as well as current conditions in Texas.

Some of the major TMLS-sponsored events during the past year have included the Black Women’s Brunch in February 2023, the chapter’s annual banquet in April 2023, and the “Afrofuturism and the Law” symposium in February 2024. In addition, TMLS worked with the regional Southwest Black Law Students Association executive board to host a two-day symposium for pre-law students at Texas Law in September 2023.  

“TMLS is more than a student organization—it is a tightknit community,” says Baptiste. “As an organization, together we all strive to further the National Black Law Students Association’s mission.”   

TMLS was founded in 1970 and is one of Texas Law’s oldest student organizations.

School administrators offered high praise for TMLS and its success during the years NBLSA has honored the chapter. “Each year, for the last several years, TMLS’s amazing executive board has lived up to the storied legacy of this chapter,” says Shavonne Henderson, Texas Law’s associate dean for professionalism. “I am immensely proud of these student leaders for the tremendous work it took to garner this recognition.”

Adds Henderson, “I look forward to what’s yet to come!” In addition to Baptiste and Ryan, this year’s TMLS executive board consists of Treasurer Kailyn Newsom ’25, Secretary Kiara Staton ’25, and Parliamentarian Diana Obinna ’25. Baptiste points out that because the award covers all of 2023, last year’s executive board also played an important role: Julian Humphrey-Davis (president), Jaria Martin (vice president), Kayla Lowery (treasurer), Isabella Parlette (secretary) and Chiamaka Okoye (parliamentarian), all ’24.

Category: Law School News, Student Life