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Leaders of Tomorrow: Brandi Pikes

Washington University School of Law

Brandi Pikes knows the importance of paying it forward.

The St. Louis native and third-year law student at Washington University remembers a teacher taking a special interest in her when she was struggling to read as a young child. With the extra help, Pikes improved and began reading above grade level.pikes-brandi

Today, Pikes, who aspires to work in education and employment law, exemplifies leadership, professionalism and a passion for making a difference by helping others reach their highest potential.

Working with the Washington University chapter of the Black Law Students Association, Pikes has dedicated herself to encouraging an interest in reading and understanding what it means to be a lawyer among elementary-age students. Last year, she developed a mentoring program in which African American law students tutored fourth-graders at Bryan Hill Elementary in the College Hill neighborhood of St. Louis. She also organized a reading workshop in April for Bryan Hill second-graders that also taught students about running for office.

Pikes previously served as an eighth-grade language-arts teacher with Teach for America in Jacksonville, Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Alcorn State University in Mississippi and her master’s in political science from the University of Mississippi. After her graduate studies, she worked on several political campaigns including President Barack Obama’s 2012 run in Ohio.

She’s been active during her law school years as well, serving as the law-student liaison to the Women Lawyers’ Association board of directors during the 2016-17 bar year, as secretary for the Student Division of the National Bar Association and director of communications for the Mid-West Region of the Black Law Students Association, also during 2016-17.

In 2017, Washington University recognized Pikes for her community efforts with the Wangari Maathai Graduate Service Award. She is a legal extern at the Special School District of St. Louis County, where she is involved in a variety of employment-related projects.

She’s also committed to help diversify the legal profession and spoke at the National Diversity Pre-Law Summit in Miami in 2017. Pikes regularly volunteers to review diverse pre-law students’ personal statements for admission and advises them on navigating the scholarship process and steps to take once accepted.

Pikes said she is hopeful she’ll see more students applying to top-tier schools as awareness of the need for diversity in the legal profession increases and she continues her work to expand opportunities.

“I always want to pay it forward — that’s a big part of increasing diversity in the legal profession,” she said. “If we’re really going to get diversity, people have to be willing to share that knowledge with those who are coming behind them.”