Student Q&A: 2L Kameelah Sims-Traylor

Each month, the alumni newsletter features a Q&A with a student. Meet 2L Kameelah Sims-Traylor, Internal Vice President of Associated Students of UC Hastings (ASUCH).

A member of the inaugural cohort of California Scholars who attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Sims-Traylor hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped. In addition to ASUCH, she’s Director of Communications for the Hastings Association of Youth Advocates (HAYA), a member of the Hastings Boxing Club, and a member of Hastings Prisoner Outreach, where she volunteers in conjunction with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.

Sims-Traylor is a proud member of LEOP, UC Hastings’ Legal Education Opportunity Program. She is active in the Hastings chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, serves as a Teaching Assistant for Legal Research and Writing, and is a Staff Editor for the Hastings Journal of Crime and Punishment. As a member of the Black Students Law Association (BLSA), she moderated a Zoom break-out session with prospective applicants at BLSA’s first Pre-Law Summit in October, organized in conjunction with the Admissions Office.

She spent the summer after her 1L year in Wichita Falls, TX, with the Regional Public Defender’s Office, working on capital cases. She hopes to take the Criminal Practice Clinic her 3L year. She plans to become a criminal defense attorney, and, eventually, an international investigative journalist.

“I definitely have two hands full, but I’m used to multitasking. I’ve become pretty efficient,” she said when we caught up with her briefly at the groundbreaking for UC Hastings’ new building at 198 McAllister. After speaking with ASUCH president Maddie Miller, she was, characteristically, off to another event.

2L Kameelah Sims-Traylor at the groundbreaking ceremony of 198 McAllister.

Q: What led you to pursue a law degree?

 A: Since I was very young, I have observed first-hand the discriminatory impact on certain communities, largely based on class and race. After committing serious time to understand the foundation of these structured and biased differences, I conceived that there are three major structures creating this impact: finance, education, and politics. At the root of the political prong is policy and the law. I have always thought that given my interests, passions and natural skill sets, I would be best suited to pursue the journey towards equality and justice through the law. Criminal defense at that!

Q: What experience have you appreciate the most since starting at UC Hastings?

A: Honestly, I’ve really appreciated the friends I’ve made and the support I’ve garnered from my peers. Coming from Spelman College in Atlanta, an HBCU, I was a little apprehensive of what my experience would be like in San Francisco. However, my experience has been an immersion of mutual support and genuine consideration. I get that law school is a naturally competitive space, but I’ve found several circles that completely oppose that notion. And for what it’s worth, those circles just keep growing.

Q: Who would you have dinner with if you could choose anyone, dead or alive?

A: I scoured my mind trying to find someone other than Beyoncé  but… what can you do?! Beyoncé is truly such an inspiration to me. Her work product, her craft, her passion, drive and dedication—I would love to be able to sit down with her. Shirley Chisholm is definitely on the short list though!