Senior Spotlight: Accepted to 11 Law Schools, Tyriek Warren ’19 Wants to Help Diversify The Bar

Senior Spotlight: Accepted to 11 Law Schools, Tyriek Warren ’19 Wants to Help Diversify The Bar

Senior Spotlight: Accepted to 11 Law Schools, Tyriek Warren ’19 Wants to Help Diversify The Bar

Our 2019 Commencement Ceremony is right around the corner. To mark the occasion, and celebrate the incredible achievements of our seniors, we spoke with several students that will be graduating on May 29. Our hope is that their stories inspire the entire John Jay community—alumni, faculty, staff, current and prospective students—to strive for excellence. Our next Senior Spotlight is Tyriek Warren ’19, a Ronald H. Brown Program student who has been accepted to 11 law schools and will be going to St. John’s University School of Law on a full ride scholarship.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn. My mother, Tamara Warren, is really the one who guided me through life, and made sure I was exposed to more than my Brooklyn block. My mom is really the ultimate driving force behind everything I do. She received her associate’s degree from Borough of Manhattan Community College [BMCC] and her dream was to be a lawyer. She ended up working for the school system. So, it’s kind of like manifest destiny because I’m fulfilling that dream.

“The study of Criminology brought me back to many of the things that I saw in my life, and it showed me how ill social conditions can lead to crimes.”  —Tyriek Warren

What was it about John Jay that made you want to come here?
I transferred here from BMCC. I had learned about the field of Sociology and later Criminology, and became immensely interested in both, so I thought to myself, John Jay is definitely the place for me. The study of Criminology brought me back to many of the things that I saw in my life, and it showed me how ill social conditions can lead to crimes.

Tell us what it was like growing up in Brownsville. What were some of those experiences you witnessed?
One of my earliest memories was of a crime I saw committed. I was looking out my apartment window and saw a man beat another man to death. I was in pre-school at the time, so I was around four years old. I grew up in Brownsville where the ill social conditions led to a lot of crime. I remember one tragic incident when I was in high school, where an innocent mother lost her life. I was in the park watching a basketball tournament when the shooting took place. The shooter, who we later learned had never held a gun before, took his older brother’s gun and started running around and firing into the basketball court. He ended up killing the woman and injuring others.

Do you think seeing those experiences helped shape your desire to be an attorney?
I definitely believe so. When it comes to understanding clients who have lived through similar experiences, I can empathize with them. It’s a type of understanding that you can only have with people who have gone through a similar situation.

How did you join the Ronald H. Brown Law School Prep Program and how has the program helped you?
I was trying to figure out how to transition to law because unlike many of the students in the program, I wasn’t pre-law. I was called in for an interview and told them everything about myself—my life experiences, my diverse work experience, my college career, and my goals for the future. Through the program I was able to obtain an internship with Justice Francois A. Rivera. He’s probably one of the best people I have ever worked with. In fact, he’s still a mentor to this day. He allowed me to shadow him and taught me how to do legal research and how to interpret cases. One of the biggest lessons I learned from Justice Rivera was that if you don’t know something, to look it up, and memorize it for the rest of your life.

“We need a bar that’s actually representative of the United States in its totality.” —Tyriek Warren

Programs like the Pre-Law Institute and Ronald H. Brown Law School Prep Program are doing their best to help diversify the bar. Why do you think diversifying the bar is so important?
We need a bar that’s actually representative of the United States in its totality. Even in cities like New York, one of the most diverse cities in the world, the bar is mostly people from the upper class and a Caucasian background. Often times they just can’t relate to the clients they represent. A more diversified bar means better results for defendants. It means the lawyers will actually be able to relate to clients and the people that actually need help.

What was the process of applying to law school like?
It was incredibly difficult. There are portions of the test that are hard, but for me the logic area was the most difficult. The personal statement and diversity statement was a little easier. I just made sure not to hide anything about myself. I wanted them to know that all the things I’ve done in my life—work a number of different jobs, participate in a number of clubs, work incredibly hard as a student—have led to this moment of me applying to law school, and that the schools would benefit from having me in their student body. I applied to 12 law schools and got into 11 of them. I’m actually on the wait list for that 12th one. After graduation, I’ll be attending St. John’s University School of Law with a full ride scholarship.

“After graduation, I’ll be attending St. John’s University School of Law with a full ride scholarship.” —Tyriek Warren

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself working for a large firm in the City. I’m hoping to work in dispute resolutions because I want to help clients find alternative solutions to incarceration.  

Finish this sentence for me: Without John Jay…
Without John Jay, I wouldn’t be on my way to becoming an attorney and diversifying the bar.

Listen to the full interview with Tyriek Warren.