College of Law > About > News > KizuwandaWyatt

Student Spotlight: Kizuwanda Wyatt (‘21)

Kizuwanda Wyatt
Kizuwanda Wyatt took a non-traditional path to law school, entering DePaul Law after a two decades long career in the hospitality industry. The previous president of the Black Law Student Association (BLSA), she has begun her term
as president of DePaul's Student Bar Association (SBA) for academic year 2020-2021.

Dr. Ana Vazquez-Rivera, director of diversity, inclusion and student life, says of Wyatt “the descriptors that come to mind are resourceful, collaborator, advocate.  As president of BLSA, she initiated relationships with advancement to launch a crowdsourcing platform for professional development and networking opportunities, as well as collaborated with various groups in and out of the law school to develop creative programming."

Allen Moye—who serves as associate dean for information technology and library services; director of the Rinn Law Library; associate professor of law; and faculty advisor to BLSA—also has seen her leadership in action: “Over the past year-and-a-half, I have come to serve as a mentor and support resource for Ms. Wyatt. I have watched her grow as a student and develop greater confidence in her abilities. She has a significant amount of real-world experience, which has undoubtedly helped her to maintain a positive perspective, as she successfully balances the demands of law school. She helped to build a strong sense of purpose among the membership of BLSA and will surely serve well as incoming SBA president."

Q.    Can you tell us about your career in the hospitality industry?

My career in hospitality spans two decades, multiple properties, and multiple states. What began as a simple way to earn more money blossomed into a rewarding and educational career. I spent all but two years in the front office of the largest hotel chain in the world. I wanted to be out front meeting people, engaging them in conversation, learning from them. It's where I thrived and where I learned many lessons on how to connect and build relationships with people.

Working in hospitality allowed me to meet and work with so many interesting and diverse people from many different cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities, and beliefs. It also allowed me to travel to places I had never been and experience foods, architecture, and customs that I had only read about as a child.

More importantly, my career in hospitality allowed me to become a more caring and understanding person and become adept at communicating in various ways. As a manager, you're tasked with solving all kinds of problems with all kinds of people, and you have to be willing to listen, empathize, apologize, and react with flexibility in your solutions. My refined abilities as a communicator, relationship builder, and problem solver are invaluable lessons I learned.  

Q.    What inspired you to come to law school?

I should say from the beginning that I never, ever thought about being a lawyer growing up. I wanted to be a doctor, helping to heal people and make them feel better. Life has a way of opening your eyes to other paths, though.

As an Urban Studies major at Fordham University, I received the opportunity to study the urban environment and all its intricacies—and in New York City, of all places. While the school provided the education, the City was where I could apply what I learned. Whether I was traipsing all over for a New York City Politics class scavenger hunt or touring the New York City's Mayor's office (and meeting Mayor Bill de Blasio) or attending a State of the City address at the Apollo Theater or interning at the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the City opened my eyes to the many challenges that people and communities were facing, and I knew I wanted to create positive change.

Q.    What inspired you to run for president of BLSA? What are some of your achievements as president of BLSA?

Black law students, like all students of color, are a minority population. There is not a long legacy of community among us, and I wanted to change that. As president of BLSA, I worked hard to foster a system of support and engagement for other students like me. I also felt it was important to engage with students of all backgrounds and invite them to be a part of our community because that's what real life is about. I'm happy to say that 11% of our members were of another race, which provided opportunities for all of us to learn more about different backgrounds.

The executive board members I worked with were instrumental to the success of BLSA. Together, we were able to implement office hours for students for help with classes or to just chat. We had Dough and Joe (donuts and coffee) breaks, presentations on mental health, and how important it is as part of your overall health plan and enjoyed spin classes and movie screenings together. Our last big event before the pandemic was the culmination of Black History Month with our Black History Month alumni reception. Our speaker was an alum who moved the crowd with her personal story of overcoming adversity.

Q.    What are some of your goals as SBA president?

My main goal as SBA president is to bring the sense of community that was created in BLSA to the entire student body. I want the Executive Board to really think about activities that will bring our school together in ways that allow us to engage with and educate each other. Now, more than any other time in recent history, we need opportunities to speak, to listen, and to learn.

I also want to make the SBA more visible, not just on campus, but within the entire Chicago community. We hope to do this by hosting office hours in the Student Center where students can come and get to know us. We plan to partner with DePaul University's Student Government Association to create connections with undergrads interested in attending law school. We also would like to attend more bar association and law firm events, plus offer our time and efforts by volunteering.