What happens when you combine a justice warrior from the sweltering plains of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and a ballet dancer from the frigid coast of Anchorage, Alaska?
Well, if their names are Kristin Williams and Andy Levad, you get KRANDY (Knowledge, Resources, and New Directions 4 Youth), a new student org the two founded at UC Hastings this summer that aims to provide resources, education, and mentorship for disadvantaged and at-risk youth.
Andy graduated with dual degrees in Mathematics and Japanese language from the University of Oregon, and a graduate degree in Chinese language translation from National Taiwan University. He worked as a ballet dancer for several years before coming to law school. He recently completed a judicial externship with Judge Edward Chen at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, and is an active member of OUTLaw, the Constitutional Law Quarterly, and UC Hastings’ student government. After law school, he will join the San Francisco office of Reed Smith LLP.
Kristin graduated from the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord School of Journalism & Mass Communications with a degree in Communications. Prior to law school, she worked for the Oklahoma Democratic Party and advocated for the American Heart Association. She also recently completed a judicial externship at the Northern District of California for Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler, and is a board member of the Moot Court Competitive Team, the Constitutional Law Quarterly, and UC Hastings’ student government. Upon graduation, she hopes to combine her passions for both law and finance, specializing in digital currencies.
"KRANDY is an organization that helps underprivileged and minority students gain better access to educational tools," said Kristin, who often found that she was the only minority voice in the classroom growing up in Tulsa. "We want to inspire students to want to stay committed to education and introduce them to the opportunities that come with careers in the legal field."
Andy continued: "Kristin and I saw a need both in the community and at UC Hastings for accessible pro-bono opportunities that directly service those in need. So, we started KRANDY from the ground up."
Together, the duo has put on educational workshops and mentorship programs for students of all ages, and set up a “Day at the Courts” where they taught middle and high school students about the U.S. judicial system, toured the local courts, and had them meet with state and federal judges.
"They share a common interest in promoting advocacy and access to education," says Associate Dean for Experiential Learning Nancy Stuart, who has worked closely with Kristin and Andy. "They wanted to build on the success of La Raza's Day at Law School, which brings 200+ youth from K-12th grade to UC Hastings, with specially designed programming of their own. They’ve designed a Day at the Courts, a Day of Rights, Know-Your-Rights panels, and promote their services to local schools."
"We just want to demystify the legal system for these students and help them develop a positive relationship with the law and our justice system," said Andy. Kristin continued: “After Day at the Courts, a lot of our kids told us they wanted to become lawyers or federal judges, when they had never even considered that an option before. We want to teach kids that they can have a lot more power to enact social change. Understanding how the law works and knowing their rights gives them the tools to create that change."
Through KRANDY, Kristin and Andy also conducted a "Know Your Rights" workshop as part of Day at Law school on the UC Hastings campus for Bay Area students, focusing on helping students understand their rights in a number of contexts. In March, they will build upon the success of this workshop with a full “Day of Rights” with a variety of panels and workshops to teach students of all ages about their Constitutional rights when dealing with the police, posting on the Internet, and more.
They also established an online system that connects UC Hastings students with low-income youths to provide them with mentorship, assistance with college and law school applications, and professional attire.
"The work that Kristin and Andy are doing will benefit the individual students through a deeper understanding of the law and how it applies to youth," notes Associate Dean Nancy Stuart, "but also as a potential pipeline to support youth interested in the law but who do not otherwise have role models for how to achieve this goal."
"I focus on creating a direct link between UC Hastings students and the community," said Andy. "By developing programming that allows busy law students to help as much as they can when they have time to do so, it provides needed services directly to the community and gives UC Hastings students a straightforward way to achieve their pro bono goals. I know that our student body wants to help out, and KRANDY is a way for them to do that."