Education

Daiquiri Steele, Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Assistant Professor of Law in Residence

Daiquiri Steele

Company: University of Alabama School of Law

Title: Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Assistant Professor of Law in Residence

Industry: Higher Education; Law

Function: her position is a hybrid of teaching and administration. As Director of Diversity & Inclusion she oversees diversity initiatives for all students – past, present, and future and as an assistant professor she teaches courses on labor and employment, education, and civil rights law

Education: Undergraduate degrees in economics and political science from Spelman College; Juris Doctor (law degree) from University of Georgia School of Law; Master’s degree in public policy administration from Northwestern University

Q/A

EHC: What is your daily schedule like?

DS: There is no typical day. The only set schedule I have is my teaching schedule, everything else is administration and no two days are the same because you don’t control what comes across your desk.

EHC: What is your favorite part of your job?

DS: I really enjoy working with students – both inside and outside the classroom

EHC: What were the steps you took to get your job?

DS: It was seamless. I wasn’t looking to leave my job at the time but was shown the job posting and thought it would be a cool job. There were two rounds of interviews, the second one taking place on campus, and that was that!

EHC: What is your best piece of advice for girls interested in this field?

DS: Always apply – and that refers to any field. Whether it’s an internship, scholarship, work-study job, or anything. Don’t say that you don’t have the GPA, enough experience, or that another person applying is a rock star, so it’s not worth it. Don’t create a self-fulfilling prophecy, always apply.

EHC: What inspired you to pursue this career?

DS: As a civil rights lawyer, I wanted to help others who can’t help themselves, and this job allows me to do that by teaching and as the director of diversity and inclusion.

Career Snapshot

Daiquiri is the Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Assistant Professor of Law in residence at Alabama School of Law. Her job is different from a lot of others because she gets to devote her time to both teaching and administrative activities that help to create a more inclusive educational environment for all students. Her pursuit of a career in civil rights law reflects her passion for helping people who otherwise cannot help themselves, and her current job blends into that passion. She had not, however, planned on becoming a professor!

As a student, Daiquiri knew she wanted to go to law school. In fact, she knew this at the age of three! By the time she got to college, she didn’t want to be a practicing lawyer, but she still wanted to go to law school because the degree would be useful in lots of career fields. She considered working in human resources for private companies or, more generally, in some area that focuses on helping children. It wasn’t until her third year of law school that she started to come around to the thought of becoming a lawyer.

By the time Daiquiri received her law degree, she had decided she wanted to work for the government and took an opportunity to do compliance work for the U.S. Department of Labor. Later, she served as a civil rights lawyer for the U.S. Department of Education. She loved the work that she did for the government and wasn’t looking to change jobs. In fact,many of the things she is most proud of in her career happened while she was working as a civil rights lawyer. Despite being happy in her role within the government, when she was shown the listing for the job she has now, she thought it might be a cool position and wanted to try it.  

A Day in the Life

Since Daiquiri’s job is a hybrid position, it allows her time in the classroom teaching students about the areas of law in which she specializes (civil rights, labor and employment, and education law). The rest of her time is spent leading diversity initiatives that help current, past, and future students. This includes applicants who may apply in the next year or two all the way to students who may be more than ten years away from applying to law school! One common misconception about her job is that she is only there to help minority students. She is there to help everyone who needs help, whether they belong to a minority (race, gender, disability, sexuality, religion, etc.) or not.

One of the best parts of Daiquiri’s job is the time she gets to spend with these students setting the foundation of their legal theory and practice. As an assistant professor, she tries to work with students to help them see the value of different perspectives. She teaches that understanding a problem through multiple lenses can lead to the most creative and useful solution. This means involving people who have different cultures, genders, and other kinds of life experience. Working with students and helping them to develop as people and as young lawyers is why Daiquiri loves the teaching part of her job–something that surprised her. She knew she would enjoy teaching, but she didn’t know she’d fall in love with it.

Advice

Much of the knowledge Daiquiri has acquired throughout her career would’ve helped her as a young lawyer, and her job gives her the chance to help future lawyers learn those things early. She tries to instill in her students the value of networking as a tool to build relationships and not just sucking up to someone to get a job. Early in her career, Daiquiri considered networking to be an activity for people who couldn’t make it on merit alone. Now, she realizes the value of having an extensive network at her disposal. When she runs across a problem or issue that is outside of her expertise, she has a trusted network to go to for help, something that would be impossible if she isolated herself from others in the legal field.

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