Published on October 5, 2023 by Sofia Paglioni  
Kalen Early browsing shelves DR071120230448

For many first-generation law students, law school can be an isolating and frustrating experience. Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law strives to tear down these walls and provide both an uplifting experience and a firm foundation to launch a successful and fulfilling career. For third-year student Kalen Early, his experience as a first-generation law student at Cumberland has been transformative.

“It's like embarking on an uncharted journey, filled with both excitement and uncertainty,” said Early. “Personally, being a first-generation law student means carrying the hopes and dreams of my family on my shoulders, as I strive to break the cycle of poverty and limited access to higher education.”

Early was raised in a single-parent household in Uniontown, Alabama and believes that his journey to law school is defined by his own determination and resilience. When describing his “why” behind attending law school, Early said, “It's a constant quest for knowledge, fueled by desire to simply make my loved ones proud and to hopefully create a better future for my future family.”

His determination, Early reflected, has been his key to success in law school. When giving advice to other first-generation law students, Early emphasizes the importance of trusting yourself. “Additionally, make sure that you build a support network of peers, professors, and mentors who can provide guidance and encouragement,” he stated. “Your diverse background as a first-generation law student can also bring fresh perspectives to the legal field.”

When deciding on a law school, Early wanted to immerse himself in a community that would not only uphold the highest standards of professionalism but would also empower him to refine advocacy skills and foster authentic connections with peers, mentors and legal professionals. Early expressed appreciation for Cumberland School of Law, saying, “As a third-year student who is inching closer and closer to graduation, I can wholeheartedly say that Cumberland did just that for me during my law school career.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.