Published on June 27, 2024 by Sofia Paglioni  
Turner Award horizontal
Rolanda Tina Turner's journey through Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law has transformed the law school and Birmingham communities as much as it has transformed her. As a dedicated student committed to excellence, Turner not only thrived academically but also made remarkable contributions to the local and regional legal community. As a first-generation law student, she embraced challenges and opportunities, growing both academically and personally.
Turner graduated in spring 2024 and was also involved in numerous law school, statewide and national organizations including the American Bar Association, the Alabama State Bar, Cumberland School of Law’s National Mediation Team, Cumberland Society of the Arts, Cumberland Health & Wellness Society, the Career Development Advisory Board, the Center for Children, Law & Ethics, and AccessLex. During the spring 2024 commencement ceremony, Turner received the Daniel Austin Brewer Professionalism Award. The award, established by former Alabama governor and Cumberland School of Law professor Albert P. Brewer, is granted to a graduating student who best exemplifies the high standards of ethics and professionalism expected of members of the legal profession.
With a passion for promoting diversity and equity, Turner’s involvement in initiatives such as Students Today Lawyers Tomorrow, a program of the Birmingham Bar Association, emphasizes her commitment to fostering inclusivity within the legal industry. Her leadership in organizing citywide mock trial competitions has provided invaluable opportunities for aspiring legal minds, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, to explore their potential in law.
Turner’s dedication to public service is exemplified by her recognition as the recipient of the 2024 Alabama State Bar Pro Bono Award in the Law Student category, yet another testament to her dedication to serving underrepresented communities. This prestigious honor acknowledges not only the quantity but also the impact of her pro bono work, reflecting the importance of equal access to legal services.
Furthermore, Turner’s advocacy for diversity and inclusion was acknowledged by the Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity when she received the Diversity Leadership Coin, an accolade that celebrates her efforts in upholding core values of inclusivity within the organization. Through her active involvement in promoting diversity initiatives, Turner has inspired others and paved the way for a more equitable legal landscape.
The publication of her article, "Equity in Healthcare: Educating and Empowering the Black Community for a Healthier Tomorrow," in The Legal Pad, the magazine of the National Black Law Student Association, marks another significant milestone in her academic journey. Her article sheds light on the systemic inequities impacting the health of African Americans, emphasizing the need for accessible health care and addressing broader social determinants. Recognition from Ms. JD's "Limitless List" awards program further highlights Turner’s fierce dedication to gender equity and emphasizes the importance of fostering inclusivity and empowering women in law.
Reflecting on her journey at Cumberland School of Law, Turner said, “I have been blessed with amazing opportunities, friendships, mentorships, scholarships and so much more. When I reflect on my experience, there is nothing I would change. I hope to return to Cumberland School of Law one day and impact someone's life in the same way that professors, deans, administrative staff, alumni and others have impacted mine. I am excited to utilize all the lessons I've learned, both inside and outside the classroom, to tackle problems in my community, my state and hopefully one day, my country.”

Lynn Hogewood, Cumberland School of Law’s assistant dean of academic and bar success, said, “I have had the honor of working with Rolanda and witnessing her journey since her first year. She met obstacles, and she overcame them with grace, determination, and a pursuit of her own excellence. I have been inspired by her commitment to learning and growing for herself and for the benefit of all of those around her.”
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.