Stephen L. Ball, a Harvard Law School alumnus, has been appointed as Harvard Law’s first Black Dean of Students, reported Michigan Daily. Ball’s journey went from simply studying law to mentoring other students on how to be litigators like himself while helping them navigate the racial disparities in the field.
Ball completed his bachelor’s and master’s degree at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and continued his education at Harvard Law. In an interview with Michigan Daily, he said Harvard’s intense academia was nothing he would have expected being a first-generation college student.
From Michigan Daily:
“Coming to a place like Harvard, especially the Law School, where it’s commonplace to have classmates who are multigenerational Harvard or HLS alums, was a new thing,” Ball said. “Those social dynamics are unique to elite environments, so it was very eye-opening.”
Ball also spoke about what it’s like to attend higher education when there weren’t many people who looked like him achieving the same things. He said that as an African-American man navigating new spaces, he has noticed the lack of representation in the law industry and is mindful of those who paved the way for him.
Ball told Michigan Daily it was important not only to do the work for himself but also for his community to encourage Black people and people of color. He said sometimes the disparities can add more stress on top of the tensions we already deal with.
“When you’re a student, you generally have the freedom to only think about yourself and what is of greatest interest to you. Really seize on that and maximize your potential,” Ball said via Michigan Daily.
Ball said to stay curious and not be afraid to step outside the box. Often times we’re discouraged or intimidated by career fields we don’t see many of us in. However, like Ball, that should encourage us to find a place within that field to open doors for ourselves and our community.