Member Spotlight: Sahil Solankee (2L)

Featuring… soft smile extraordinaire and APALSA Treasurer, Sahil Solankee! (And he just accepted a spot on the Texas Law Review so make sure to congratulate him!!)

What did you do this summer?
I didn’t end up with a legal job this summer, so I took Family Law with Professor Fielder, who it turns out is a great professor even on zoom! I used the other half of my summer to read one book a week by a non-white author.

What is your favorite thing about Texas Law? The student community is really supportive of one another! The vibe from the beginning is very much when Vivienne and Elle become friends by the end of the movie, but you don’t have to go through the scary, cutthroat part.

Best memory from APALSA or why you got involved: It’s not a memory, but let’s be real our shirts are the best.

Member Spotlight: Sheela Ranganathan (2L)

Spotlight on.. our other incoming VP, Sheela Ranganathan!

Growing up, I was taught a lot about Indian and Hindu traditions. I was classically trained in Carnatic music, my mom would braid my hair with coconut oil every day, and we ate South Indian food for every meal. I’m not sure why I felt so much pressure to reject that part of myself in order to make friends and “assimilate” to the world around me, but I am so thankful that my parents never let me.

As a result, I care a lot about creating environments where people do not have to hide parts of themselves to fit in. I joined APALSA because the board did a great job of that last year, and my goal now as VP is to extend that: with more outreach to 1Ls, more collaboration with the other affinity groups, and more creative ways to find a home at the law school. Law schools are, by nature, pre-professional—but especially at Texas Law, we are also here to make lifelong friendships and memories, and I hope I can contribute to a small part of that for our membership.

Member Spotlight: Monica Lin (2L)

Spotlight on Monica Lin, one of our Vice Presidents!

Hi! I’m Monica. I grew up playing tennis and piano in the suburbs of Chicago. I continued playing tennis in college where I graduated with a degree in Chemistry. I was recently introduced to the books of David Foster Wallace and was so excited to find out that the Ransom Center has a lot of his manuscripts. If you have any bad rom-com recommendations, I’d love to hear them.

I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone better and eating good food!

Member Spotlight: Nik Soni (2L)

Member feature on Nik Soni, a rising 2L from Houston, TX!

This summer, Nik worked at Akin Gump as a Pro Bono Scholar, splitting between the ABA Center for Human Rights and Akin Gump Houston’s litigation group. He is also the director of Law Students for Black Lives’s Working Group on Human Rights, focusing on strategizing race-related advocacy efforts through international human rights law.

His biggest hobby lately has been guitar, and he says that through quarantine he has managed to push his skill level from “aggressively mediocre” to “here’s Wonderwall.”

Member Spotlight: Trysten Henderson (3L)

Member Spotlight on… Co-President, Trysten Henderson!

This summer, I will be working for Thompson & Knight in Dallas. Since start dates have been pushed back, I also plan on devoting a lot of time planning and preparing for APALSA’s 2020-2021 school year.

My favorite things about Texas Law are the amazing friends I’ve met here, and seeing the beautiful trees change colors in the courtyard.

I got involved with APALSA because it gave me a wonderful and supportive community of friends and mentors, and I wanted to provide that same sense of community to others.

Member Spotlight: Reetu Sinha (Grad)

Hi everyone, I’m Reetu, part of the cursed class of 2020! After the bar, I’ll be clerking for a federal judge in San Antonio. After that, who knows?

I think it’s important for us, particularly as a member of a model minority group, to use whatever leverage we have to hold institutions of power accountable, especially for our black peers. Always remember that, as much as we rely on law schools and legal employers, they wouldn’t exist without us! Our work and our money provides value to these institutions, and we have a right to the equitable treatment of those with less privilege as a result. Use your value to question those with power: what is your law school doing to support black students right now? Does your employer do work that meaningfully contributes to a just society? Change comes not just from individuals, but from power, and our choices and our labor contribute to that power structure.

Member Spotlight: Pandy Shen (3L)

Pandy Shen is a 3L and Co-President of APALSA from 2020-2021. Pandy studied English and Asian American Studies in undergrad at UT. Keep scrolling to read her story!

Race has always been central to my identity. I got involved in APALSA to lend my voice to those whose experiences as nontraditional AAPI have similarly been erased by the Model Minority myth. I grew up in Atlanta, and was on welfare for a lot of my childhood. I attended a predominantly Black elementary school, where educational inequalities were flagrant—most of the non-Black students were elevated into rigorous GT programs, starting as early as first grade. By high school, I had moved into a predominantly white, middle-class neighborhood in Texas, where I noticed that my own advancements in certain classes and extracurricular activities were impeded by my family’s inability to afford private tutors/lessons (a prerequisite to advance, regardless of skill) and transportation. When my family finally made it to a more socio-economically comfortable position, I understood the importance of race in our climb up the ladder.

As someone who has been lucky enough to see both sides of the coin, I want to use my privilege and position to highlight how the Model Minority myth simultaneously obscures and silences AAPI experiences (especially those of us who were/are still low-income) while leveraging that silence to hurt our brothers and sisters of other races. As a strong believer in unity, I hope to foster a real sense of community between not only APALSA members, but also members of other affinity orgs, particularly because AAPI occupy such a unique position as perpetuators of (especially anti-Black) racism. In an education system that’s steeped in racialization, it’s up to ethnic students to uplift each other and highlight our excellence.

Member Spotlight: David Liu (Grad)

David Liu is a Class of 2020 graduate from Maplewood, Minnesota. Born and raised in the Midwest, he had a childhood filled with skiing, ice fishing, shoveling driveways, and building the best snow forts. David graduated from The University of Chicago with a degree in Economics. He then began law school at the University of Texas. At the law school, David was an active member of the Interscholastic Mock Trial Team as well as a society coordinator in the Society Program. He is a member of the Order of the Barristers. Following graduation, he will be commissioning as an officer in the US Army JAG Corps and hopes to pursue a career in litigation.

David is saddened that his home state of Minnesota was thrust into the national spotlight because of an atrocity. Nevertheless, he believes that it is because of the resiliency of activists and their allies that his state and country will take great steps forward in the fight to end racism and police brutality. David has also been a large proponent of greater minority representation in litigation, especially trial litigation. Jury trials are often seen as a foundation of a free and fair democracy. A greater diversity of views and backgrounds will not only help to strengthen this cornerstone of our justice system, but also work to ensure that everyone gets an opportunity to have their voice heard.