Princess Manasseh: Journalist and Lawyer-To-Be

I met Princess at a University of Miami panel.  All the future lawyers at the panel were impressive in their presentations, but there was something about Princess (besides her awesome name!).   I was moved by her passion, honesty, and sense of responsibility towards her community but above all, by how genuine she is.  There was a sense of realness about her, of being worldly and wise.   A Journalist finishing her third year of law school is already making an impact before she’s even finished her degree; she has been awarded more than five scholarships for the study of law, including being the Champion of the John T. Gaubatz Moot Court and the University of Miami Dean’s Honor Scholarship among others.  Princess worked in the Health Rights Clinic, where she successfully advocated for a denied case to be reopened, resulting in approval in less than 30 days.  As if this wasn’t impressive enough, this woman still has time to kick ass as a UM Law School website writer and as a Volunteer in the Income Tax Assistance Program and is, at the moment, gloriously finishing her last semester of law school in Madrid, Spain.

You are a third-year law school student.  What motivated you to pursue law?

I decided to pursue a career in law because I saw it as an opportunity to propel myself forward as a leader in my community. I saw so many areas where my community was lacking and in need of a shift in the right direction. I viewed law school as a means for me to learn how to transform my community structurally and on a foundational level.
I didn’t know what all law school entailed but I knew lawyers were leaders in their fields. As a journalist, many of the accomplished journalists I looked up to had J.D.’s. Not entirely sure how it would help, I felt confident that earning a Juris Doctorate would serve to advance my goal of uplifting the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles.

What are you most passionate about or in other words what is your life’s purpose?

I’m most passionate about community. I grew up in Los Angeles, California where I had the benefit of living in a variety of different neighborhoods. In high school, I lived in View Park, which is in the heart of the Crenshaw District. I fell in love with that District and the community there. I see so much undeveloped talent in the Crenshaw District—so many marginalized individuals. Not only Los Angeles, but California, the United States, and the entire world would benefit so much from a thriving Crenshaw District. The achievements of the people there would propel society forward.
Beyond just my hometown, all over the country, there are marginalized individuals who the system is not serving or serving to keep back. That is to the detriment of us all. I’m passionate about transforming the Crenshaw District because that is my home and therefore I believe where I can best be of service. I value culture. I want to see a healthy culture all throughout America that serves to benefit everyone and advances us all.

What has been your most valuable life lesson?

All over the world, people are more or less the same. Racism, sexism, bigotry and the like, are all diseases of thought afflicting those who are ignorant of how similar we all are.  

I have had the privilege of traveling to well over a dozen countries. The lessons I’ve learned traveling the world have been some of the most valuable to me. I’ve learned that race is truly a social construct and that the differences we construct between ourselves our meaningless. We all love our families, want the best for them, and carry on day-to-day in pursuit of living prosperous lives.

I’ve learned that the most important thing you can do in life is to pursue your dreams. You will be your best self if you go after what you want. Racism, sexism, fear, pettiness, all of those things are hindrances that keep people from experiencing life abundantly.

I’ve learned to have compassion for those who suffer from small-mindedness however it’s manifested, whether it be in the form of racism, sexism, or anything else. I realize that their small-mindedness is keeping them from being their best selves. I realize also, that to allow those “ism”s to discourage me would diminish my own capacity for success. Instead, I choose to have compassion for those who’ve succumbed to the traps of prejudicial thinking. Most importantly, I choose to have the boldness to believe in myself and prove my beliefs right—the belief that we’re all in this together, one race of people.

What was your first job out of college?

Tennis instructor—I attended California State University, Los Angeles on a tennis scholarship. After graduation, I taught tennis in Los Angeles and abroad before entering into my field of study—Journalism—in 2013.   

What or who inspired you to do what you do?

My parents are really my biggest inspiration. They taught me so much about community and culture from such a young age. I feel so privileged to have been raised by such conscious individuals.

Growing up, both my parents were entrepreneurs. Additionally, my mother’s identical twin was an attorney so the legal field was always in the back of my mind as something I could do. Between my Mother, my Father and my Aunt, I always felt like every door was open to me. I knew I was capable of being whatever I wanted.

My parents have always shown through their actions more than their words the importance of community. I know that whatever I do must be done for the development of my community otherwise, it’s pointless.

It’s not that I’m such a selfless person I definitely have goals of personal financial success. It’s just that my upbringing has shown me how my success is tied to that of my community. I’m so grounded in my culture and the well-being of my people that I know any success that doesn’t include uplifting my community would for me be empty. Because of my parents, I’m inspired to use all the gifts, talent, and privilege I’ve been afforded to the benefit of as many people possible.  

How would you title your autobiography?

Unlearning The Lies: The Journey to Knowledge of Self

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

Spend as little time possible worrying about romance. Love is inevitable it will come. Instead, devote all your attention, focus, and efforts to your passions and dreams. Work toward them with full force. Love interests are fun but don’t take them seriously. When your life long partner arrives it will be apparent and you won’t have to guess, worry or stress. Focus on what you can offer society, that’s where you’re at your best.     

What is your choice of each of the following:

  • A song: When You Praise – Fred Hammond  
  • A place: Dakar, Senegal  
  • A moment in your life: Summer 2008; 21 years old; Guatemala City, Guatemala; first time abroad; all by myself. Beautifully terrifying

 

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