Most of us spend a great portion of our lives trying to find our place in the world. When we secure our place, we want to learn how to thrive.
To Suwana, the significance of her place is not in the singularity of it, but the cultivation of all the roles she could muster. At nine years of age, Suwana declared to her mother she wanted to be an attorney. While that seems like a specific place to cultivate and thrive, Suwana would find her journey took her to places she had not even considered available to her. Attending Florida A&M University to earn an undergraduate degree in Psychology allowed Suwana to find a space of comfort in her own skin. A place in which she had never had the opportunity to experience until then. This level of comfort inspired a newfound confidence and a desire to share her passion with others. Suwana would later discover a place of passion in the opportunity to touch the lives of middle school students as a science educator. The light in their eyes would illuminate her pathway back to law school. Encouraging her students to go after their dreams and never give up, no matter the fight, encouraged Suwana to apply to law school at Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando, Florida.
Now in her second year of law school, Suwana breathes in the air of familiarity in this place. A space where advocacy for self and others is expected, encouraged and welcomed. Of all the spaces and places, so far, Suwana is sure the ones of mom and wife have been the most rewarding. “It hasn’t been easy trying to balance the spaces, as both of them feel so innate to me. I want to give them both my all, all the time.” Today, Suwana is beyond excited for the opportunity to be involved in the creation of a space for womxn of color in the legal profession. A place to be at peace in their own skin, to feel empowered and encouraged to take up space.
For XuanMai, her place did not stem from law school or the desire to be an attorney like her NWOCC peers. XuanMai attended Syracuse University to earn an undergraduate degree in Accounting and Finance. She went on to pursue a career at JPMorgan Chase & Co., and now Fortress Investment Group. It was at Syracuse, however, that she met Alexandra, one of her closest friends, and who you may know as the President of NWOCC. When Alexandra approached her with the proposal to join NWOCC as Treasurer, it was a no brainer. XuanMai knew she did not have to be in the same profession as her NWOCC peers to simply support womxn. What’s more powerful to her is womxn across professions supporting each other, offering their unique insights, and lifting each other up.
That was her hope when she joined NWOCC – to leverage her knowledge in finance as a way to help NWOCC grow and become financially sustainable so that the collective can continue to offer its support and resources to womxn in the legal profession long term. Meeting the other NWOCC Board of Directors and hearing their experiences inspired XuanMai even more. She felt these womxn were deeply passionate about change in the legal profession, and how can you not be in awe of that. XuanMai believes NWOCC is the seed of a larger and greater change for the legal profession. When you give womxn, especially womxn of color in law, the opportunity to thrive and succeed, it can create so many changes in the world.