Engaging with students over breakfast

"I continue to be amazed at the diverse backgrounds and talent of the students I meet."
Engaging with students over breakfast

Briana Lathon, Colin Crawford and Calesia Henson
From left, Briana Lathon, Dean Colin Crawford and Calesia Henson.

One of the great pleasures of my job is getting to know our different groups of stakeholders — alums, community leaders, members of the bench and bar and, not least, our students. But for a dean, getting to know students is more difficult than one might expect — much of a dean’s time is spent on administrative tasks with faculty, with other university units and with donors.

That is one of the reasons I started having weekly “Breakfasts with the Dean” — so that I can get to know a small group of students in a more informal setting. Students sign up on a first-come, first-served basis, two or three a time. They are held at my neighborhood diner, Burger Boy. They happen weekly during the term, and I hope to continue them for the foreseeable future.

Every breakfast is different, but at every one I continue to be amazed at the diverse backgrounds and talent of the students I meet, as well as the many challenges they embrace and overcome to get their legal educations at Brandeis.

Chad Eisenback and Kelsey Luttrell with Colin Crawford
From left, Kelsey Luttrell, Chad Eisenback and Dean Colin Crawford.

For example, last week I met with two first-year students who, while still relatively young, arrived at Brandeis from other careers. Kelsey Luttrell has a master’s in public administration and worked in that field. Chad Eisenback was a union shop steward and began law school as a part-time student working the midnight shift.

Both of them are parents as well — and friends: Chad’s wife provides Kelsey day care when Kelsey has an early-morning class and on the occasions when Kelsey’s toddler came to campus, she was able to leave him with Chad while in class or interviewing. It takes a village! I left our meal deeply impressed by their determination to become lawyers while juggling so many different balls.

This week, I breakfasted with second-year student Calesia Henson and third-year Briana Lathon. Again, these breakfasts are for me a way to learn things I would not otherwise. Calesia has lived all over the United States and, following graduation from Baylor, spent two years in Memphis in the Teach for America program; a friend was from Louisville and recommended she apply here. She is now happily among us.

Briana Lathon is a student leader I’d already met. During our meal, the discussion ranged over a wide range of topics, but mostly, we talked about art and museums, a topic on which Briana is deeply informed. She shared a lot of her knowledge with me and Calesia (Briana, you can still be a curator someday!) Our hour together was an absolute delight. 

These breakfasts with students energize me and make me excited to come to work every day.