By Cheska Torres Ibasan
“Though I had an overall stellar experience and an unmatched degree of professional development, my ability to achieve in many spaces was impeded by the lack of concern for my identity by many institutions,” shares Juris Doctor and Master’s in Public Policy Candidate Kendrick Peterson. Growing up in predominantly white spaces, Kendrick was made aware of his identities as a queer and Black scholar at a very young age. In his 2018 TEDx talk — Kendrick, who was working as an Undergraduate Admissions Coordinator at the University of Notre Dame at the time — tackled how institutionalism propels the importance of celebrating diversity in all forms.
Committed to decolonizing the legal system, Kendrick’s pro bono endeavors are highlighted through his involvement with the Policy Advocacy Clinic, East Bay Community Law Center, and BLAST: Domestic Violence Prevention. He is also an alumnus of Harvard PPLC and Carnegie Mellon PPIA fellowship programs.
“After watching Legally Blonde, I thought that I could be like Elle Woods. A thriving, wealthy socialite with monochrome outfits, acing the LSAT and getting into a prestigious law school. It became quite apparent early on that I could never be like Elle Woods. I did not have the background, knowledge, or testing materials, and statistically I was told that I was lucky to make it out of high school,” Kendrick recalls.
“During my time at the University of Notre Dame, I was often asked what sports team I played on to be admitted, served as the only Black student in my lectures and in one instance had a Physics professor threaten to call campus security because I seemed threatening. However, the close friendships and community I developed then, inspire me to lean unabashadley into my authenticity today.”
Kendrick serves as the Berkeley Law Student Body Co-President, the Associate Editor of California Law Review, a BLAST Trip Leader, member of Berkeley Law Queer Caucus, Law Students of African Descent, the Mock Trial Team, and is a mentee for the Appellate Project.
In his commercial practice, he hopes to focus on opportunities affiliated with private sector litigation, white collar investigations, higher education regulatory practice, and impact federal advocacy on behalf of marginalized groups.
“We cannot continue to operate as if victories on behalf of vulnerable communities are set in stone.”
Among the numerous things we learned from Kendrick’s years of excellence, one always stands evident: Community advocacy operates through the light of love. Without love, there can be no justice. And without justice, there is no love.