- I spoke up. The idea for Bridges came months before I actually reached out to anyone, and I had to let the idea evolve before I was prepared to make a case to the administration for why such a program was so important. I also thought it was crucial that the initiative be supported by the institution itself; after all, many of these conversations were happening informally within student groups and among friends, but the law school was capable of amplifying these conversations and the messages they contained. To its credit, not only has the administration been extremely supportive, but it has invested tangible resources into ensuring that this project can continue into the future.
- For members of the first cohort, we set aside a regular hour-long block to discuss our ideas, push each other’s thinking, and refine the output into pieces that could be made public. Our conversations were rooted in a transparency that occasionally verged into brutal honesty, but without that intimate space we cultivated from the beginning of the project, such conversations would not have been possible. Although these discussions were eventually pushed online because of the pandemic, we managed to maintain consistent contact and establish a comfort level that allowed us to share our stories with impunity.
- Finally, we found time to connect outside of our regular meetings when needed to overcome major hurdles during the writing process. Some of the toughest decisions that had to be made about our pieces took place during one-on-one conversations among members of the cohort. We also benefited from having an unbelievable leader in Becky Beaupre Gillespie, an experienced writer and mentor to each member of the group. In refining our ideas under her empathetic guidance, and connecting with each other individually when we needed to grapple with particularly challenging roadblocks in the writing process, we managed to produce a set of essays that each member of the cohort could be proud of—pieces that have gone on to highlight the challenges and triumphs of legal study.
Travis Gidado is a joint JD/MBA student at the University of Chicago. Read his contribution to the Bridges Project here.