Kendra Brown, JD 2012
You always have to be in a place to go with an opportunity.”
Undergrad: BA in political science, minor in business administration, Hampton University; MDiv, Howard University
Career before law school: Scheduler for U.S. House Representative Maxine Waters
Kendra Brown is known on campus as "a rock star," but many of her colleagues and professors don't know that she is also a globetrotting gospel singer. Japan will soon be hip to this, as well. This summer, Kendra will participate in a week-long tour of Japan with the Dartmouth Gospel Choir. Although this will be the alto soloist's first tour in Japan, she has already graced European audiences with her voice on four previous tours. When she is not touring the world with her music, she is traveling across the country as an executive board member for several organizations, including as the incoming regional chair and convention coordinator for the Northeast Region of the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA), congressional liaison specialist for NBLSA, and an executive board member of the Baltimore County chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., an organization committed to service. Additionally, she is a member of the Baltimore Chapter of The Links, Inc., a volunteer service organization of women who are committed to enriching and sustaining the culture and economic survival of African Americans. Although she calls Vermont her refuge, Kendra stays plenty busy on campus, holding down two jobs-one in Dean Shields's office and the other as a student ambassador-along with being copresident of the VLS chapter of the Black Law Students Association, the school ABA representative, and a board member of Barrister's Book Shop.
This list of activities begs the question, "How does she do it?" Clearly, she must have to manage her time wisely. For Kendra, this includes planning her week's schedule down to the minute. Her ability to balance her commitments comes from her days as a Capitol Hill scheduler for Representative Maxine Waters. Although Hill staffers teased her because of her fondness for making lists, Kendra stands by them as essential to helping her conquer her days.
Kendra originally started her career in Washington, D.C., working for a government consulting company, but thought she had struck gold when she moved on to a law firm. She was not even looking for a new job when Representative Waters recruited her. Kendra describes the choice she had to make between continuing to work where she was comfortable suitable for a law-student-to-be and stepping outside her comfort zone as "a leap of faith," but also a decision reflecting her approach to life. "You always have to be in a place to go with an opportunity," Kendra says, believing that "we are all here for a reason-we just have to find and follow it." But how does one know one's purpose in life? Kendra offers one way to figure out this important and potentially mystifying question: dig deep, step back, and take a moment of reflection. "You could ask yourself, 'Has everything I have done put me on the right trajectory?' One should be open to realignment, depending on the answer to that question."
Kendra has a lifetime of community involvement and leadership. Born and raised in Winchester, Virginia, Kendra spent her youth attending and singing in her father's church and participating in several sports and student government at school. Her mother is a business woman specializing in quality management, while her father doubled as the vice principal of her high school. Although Kendra's upbringing gave her a solid background in the Christian faith, she desired to gain another level of understanding of faith. After completing a degree in political science with a minor in business administration at Hampton University, Kendra went on to pursue what would become a master of divinity degree from Howard University. She started off at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and then moved to Washington, D.C., to be closer to her family, start her career in the nation's capital, and continue with her divinity studies. When asked how she currently utilizes her divinity degree, Kendra notes that, similar to how lay people look to lawyers as instant legal experts, people immediately seek her expertise on faith-related matters. The degree also gave her a global perspective on the role of faith in culture and politics, which she finds valuable in understanding current events and working with people from different backgrounds.
Even with a drive as fierce and focused as Kendra's, she has had to question the direction of her trajectory, including deciding whether to stay at Vermont Law School. Kendra wanted to transfer after her 1L year in order to be closer to her family. One of her strongest motivations to work as hard as she does is to make her two young nephews, Austin and J Paul, proud of her. Being far from them and both of her grandmothers experiencing health problems proved to be an extremely trying time for Kendra. She decided to stay in South Royalton partly because of what she describes as the unique community environment here at the law school. "I have had the opportunity to visit a lot of other schools, and I can say honestly that the VLS faculty members are here for the students." Kendra credits the Dartmouth Gospel Choir with helping her transition through the death of her grandmothers this past year. She sees the choir as one of several families she has cultivated since starting law school, along with her NBLSA and law school families. With many circles of support, a mastery of time management, and a strong sense of herself and values, Kendra continues to "keep on keeping on," as her grandmother used to say, turning challenges into opportunities.
Kendra Brown's profile was written by her classmate Dana Christensen '12 and the full version was originally published in 2011 in the VLS student newspaper, The Forum.