During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we shine a light on the diverse members of the Hispanic and Latino communities at Iowa Law. Each person brings their own story, inspirations, and future aspirations. No two stories are the same, yet they all have great pride in their heritage that shaped them.
Bry-Tanny Weaver is a second-year law student and the social chair for Iowa Law's Hispanic and Latinx Law Students Association (HLLSA). She is passionate about bringing the members of the student organization together, building connections and creating resources for future Hispanic and Latino lawyers.
She also serves as a student writer on the Journal of Gender, Race, and Justice and is a research assistant for the Career Services Offices at the law school. Bry-Tanny plans to go into entertainment law after graduation.
We sat down with her to learn more about her journey to law school.
Why did you decide to go into law?
As a child I watched a little too much Law and Order with my mom, and that lit a fire in me to want to be a lawyer. As I got older, I learned more about different careers, and I felt like being a lawyer was the only job I could continue to see myself doing.
Growing up in the border city of El Paso, I have seen the harmful effects of people needing a good lawyer and not having one which led to devastating consequences and that has always motivated me to want to be a good lawyer for those in need.
I am also currently in the process of applying for a few visas for my fiancé and we have an excellent lawyer that has done an excellent job in advising us how to prepare our paperwork, so the process can go smoothly. The process is extremely difficult and confusing, but having an excellent lawyer also motivates me to want to be a great lawyer.
As a first-gen student, what resources or mentors helped guide you?
I was accepted into a Law School Preparation Institute at my University in El Paso where I received extreme guidance with the law school process. I did not know any attorneys, so I knew I was going to need some help with the process. It felt like the professors were holding my hand and getting me through to the end because they were so helpful.
I took a mock torts class for a month, took a mock law school exam, and did LSAT prep until it was time to take the actual exam. After I took the LSAT and got my score, my professors guided me in applying to schools. I didn't have a specific law school in mind so I trusted my professors to help me decide which law school was right for me.
I applied to 25 different law schools, The University of Iowa College of Law being one of them. I updated my professors as I got accepted and denied by schools and as soon as I got my offer from Iowa, they said it would be an excellent choice. I accepted and have been having a wonderful experience at Iowa Law. I have made some amazing friends and have learned from the best professors! I am so happy I made my way to this school.
What does your Hispanic/Latino heritage mean to you?
My heritage means being proud of the history that has shaped me. As an Afro-Latina, I love that I can enjoy two cultures that make who I am.
How has your background shaped or inspired your career aspirations?
My home of El Paso, Texas is one of the poorest cities in Texas. Seeing how this affected my community, I aim to bring heightened attention to the marginalized people who need it most. El Paso is also a border city and I have seen how policies directly affect my city and the people around me. This inspired me to want to be a helping hand in the legal field to help people in need.
What are you most proud of when you think about your heritage?
When I think of my heritage, I am proudest of how far I have come. My undergraduate university in El Paso provided me with the opportunity to study abroad, which allowed me to showcase my culture in South Korea. That was one of the best experiences ever and it has changed my life so much. I met my fiancé at the University I attended, and my life has been nothing but great since I met him. He and his family are extremely supportive and have really been helping me get through law school and just life.
Recent numbers show us, Latinas only make up 2% of female attorneys in the US. What does your role as a future lawyer mean to you?
My role as a future lawyer means being someone who can serve as a mentor to others. Afro-Latinas in the legal community are of small numbers, and if I can provide support to anyone looking for guidance, I would be more than happy to provide it.
What advice would you give to an aspiring Latina lawyer?
The advice I would give to an aspiring Latina lawyer is to persevere. It is extremely difficult to navigate a field that was not made for us, but finding a strong support system has made it so much easier!