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Justice O'Connor inspires the next generation at the ASU law school dedicated to her

Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law.jpg
Posted at 6:48 PM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 22:45:56-04

PHOENIX (KGUN) — Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor made breaking the glass ceiling look easy and her accomplishments are now inspiring law students at the law school named after her on the ASU campus.

Priyal Thakkar is a third-year law student. She uses Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's story to motivate her.

"I'm about halfway across the world to study here at the Sandra Day O'Connor college," said Thakkar. “I don't see myself represented a lot in this profession. And when she was appointed to the supreme court, I bet she didn't see herself represented as you're the first woman to bring by justice.”

Thakkar is working with the O'Connor law school’s international rule of law and securities program in hopes it’ll launch her into the international law arena.

“One huge part of her legacy is that when she graduated from law school, no one would hire her to graduate at the very top of her class but because she was a woman, she could not get the jobs that she wanted but she didn't quit,” said Thakkar.

The law school’s dean of students Doug Sylvester said Thakkar isn’t alone. For years he said he’s heard the similar message echoed at student orientation.

“Our students are often talking to us about how much her legacy, and what it would mean to be at a law school named after her and have the opportunity to really follow in her footsteps," said Sylvester.

Those same students come to learn that inside the College of Law, Justice O'Connor has her own office filled with memories of her ​achievements as a lawyer, politician, and humanitarian.

“Intense. Inspirational. Friendly”

Sylvester describes Justice O'Connor as intense, inspirational, and friendly. That's also what he thinks the school represents.

“We do want to be an extraordinarily friendly place, there's no reason for a law school to scare people or pretend it's something that it isn't, but at the same time, we know we're preparing that next generation of leaders,” he said.

That’s what it’s doing with Thakkar who’s been able to create change as a student in Africa.

“I got to work on cases in Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria on sexual violence against women and women's social-economic rights, and that, that's pretty cool,” said Thakkar.

While Justice O'Connor inspired her to persevere and prove herself, she's not too sure what she would say if she met her.

“You know how they say you should never meet your idols, or just anything anybody you admire? So, I am not very good with deep meeting people who I look up to, in ways," she said.

The Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law offers 13 types of clinics.