Student Profile: Raphael Davis-Williams ’10: Combining Law and Leadership to Make a Difference
Some leaders are easily recognizable. Raphael Davis-Williams is one of them.
He’s one of those people you want to talk to when he walks into a room. He’s got a cheery grin, warm personality, and unassuming manner. He’s a genuine, nice person with lofty aspirations.
As one of the oldest members of Moritz’s Class of 2010, Raphael has already led a successful career as a broadcast journalist in cities around the country, including Orlando, Fla.; San Antonio, Texas; Montgomery, Ala.; Waco, Texas; and Houston, Texas.
A high school counselor encouraged Raphael to enter journalism, particularly broadcast journalism because of his chatty personality.
Raphael said he was drawn to the profession for other reasons.
“My goal in journalism was to have an effect on people, society, and other things,” he said. “I wanted a career where I could make a difference.”
From 1990 to 2004, Raphael did his best to find and report stories that did cause some change. Like the story about a handful of elementary students who walked home from school each day past dangerous railroad tracks, an interstate, and bridge. Raphael’s reporting and subsequent story caused local officials to take action, and the situation was improved.
But, Raphael became discouraged as he was pressured to report on stories that would make the best headlines and be the most visually stimulating.
After 14 years as a reporter, Raphael decided to pursue a new career.
“I realized that law was a much more effective means of accomplishing change,” he said. “It was an obvious choice for me.”
But he didn’t immediately begin applying to law schools. He wanted to go to a great law school, and he felt in order to do that it was monumentally important to first earn another advanced degree.
“I needed to be at a reputable university, and I wanted to get my mind back into school,” he said. “I hadn’t been to class in some time, and I felt that I needed to adequately prepare for law school.”
Raphael enrolled at the Harvard Extension School in Cambridge, Mass., where he worked toward his master’s degree in liberal arts, with an emphasis in government. Raphael has completed all the necessary coursework, and he expects to submit his thesis in June 2009.
Government intrigued Raphael, and it sparked his desire to enter politics someday. He doesn’t want to be elected, but would love the chance to assist in creating laws.
“I am a political junkie,” he said. “But what really drives me is public policy formation, specifically government’s ability to right wrongs and create a more equal society. My passion is that unrealistic belief in total equality.”
Raphael hopes that law school will provide him an intimate knowledge of the law-making process in order to pursue the career in the future.
“Until you know how to think about the law, you’ll never be able to do anything about changing it,” he said.
While at Harvard, Raphael began his search for the right law school. His national search led him to several law school fairs and countless admissions officers.
“I always say that I did not choose Ohio State, Ohio State chose me,” he said.
At a law school forum in Los Angeles, Raphael met Kathy Northern, Moritz’s associate dean for admissions. He said that Kathy provided him a level of attention and sincerity that was incomparable.
Raphael admitted that he was quite unfamiliar with Columbus before enrolling at Ohio State. But since arriving here, he’s already become involved with several law school activities.
Raphael said that he is driven to be a leader in, and outside, the classroom. Moving from city to city for work, Raphael had the opportunity to become involved in several endeavors across the country. While a journalist, Raphael co-founded chapters of the National Association of Black Journalists in San Antonio, Texas, and Montgomery, Ala. He’s helped with the AIDS Action Committee in Boston, the Drug Education for Youth program in Melbourne, Fla., and Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program in West Texas. He received leadership awards in Cape Canaveral, Fla., and San Antonio.
Raphael has eagerly taken on leadership roles in a few organizations at the Moritz College of Law. Raphael is currently professional development co-chair for the Black Law Students Association, outreach chair for OutLaws, and secretary for Dispute Resolution and Youth. He is also a Moritz Law School Ambassador and a member of the Public Interest Law Foundation, the Pro Bono Research Group, and the Law School Democrats.
“Ohio State chose me because Moritz exceeded my desires and expectations for every important criterion I established for the place where I wanted to pursue my legal education: a globally respected academic program, a responsive innovative administration, a collegial supportive learning environment, and a commitment to diversity beyond usual expectations.”