Caroline Capili just completed her second year at Notre Dame Law School. She has served on the NDLS Student Bar Association's Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and is the teaching assistant for the Klau Center's "Building an Anti-Racist Vocabulary" series.
“At the moment, I believe the most pressing issue would be breaking down the idea of a racial dichotomy and truly embracing the intersectionality of race relations."
What draws you to issues around race and justice? Have there been any events in your life that have inspired this interest?
As a first-generation Filipina American, I grew up in a society where my story seemed unheard in the conversation of race. I experienced everything from microaggressions to overt racism, and constantly found myself being considered as the “model minority.” Recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of hate crimes against the AAPI community, the media has given us a platform to express these injustices and to move the needle in the right direction.
You’re very active at the law school, in groups committed to diversity. Can you talk a little about those activities?
My commitment to diversity in the law school has transpired in several ways. My goal has always been to bring voices to the table. Students of color and first-generation students face unique challenges. As a member of student groups committed to diversity, our primary focus is to provide resources to close the gap. I have served as a member of the Notre Dame Law School Student Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee for the past two years working alongside my peers to create programming that aims to foster an inclusive environment.
Additionally, I served as the Alumni Relations Coordinator for both the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association and First Generation Professionals to further provide networking opportunities for our members.
Where do you draw personal inspiration? Are there faculty, colleagues, or public figures who have acted as role models for your focus?
I have had the pleasure to have important, yet difficult conversations about race and injustice with so many people around me. During my first year of law school, I was blessed enough to have one of the only people of color on faculty as a professor, mentor, and friend–Professor Dwight King. In times where I felt as though my efforts were unheard, Professor King provided the support that made the difference in my academic career. He challenged me to tackle the conversations others shy away from and to pursue leadership opportunities that would provide a platform to share my passions with others.
You are the teaching assistant for the Klau Center’s “Building an Anti-Racist Vocabulary” series. What has that experience been like? What have you done, what have you learned?
My experience as a teaching assistant for "Building an Anti-Racist Vocabulary" has been very unique. As law students, we seldom have opportunities to impact the larger Notre Dame community. My role was to research overarching themes in the fight against racism through the lens of various experts on the subject. Through this research, I recognized the intersectionality of identity in the United States. While we primarily focused on the issues that surround race, we also touched on religion, socioeconomic status, and recent events that arose as a result of legislation and access to healthcare.
What do you see as the most pressing issues related to race and social justice that law can address?
At the moment, I believe the most pressing issue would be breaking down the idea of a racial dichotomy and truly embracing the intersectionality of race relations. By recognizing how the facets of our identities affect our perspectives on issues surrounding race, we can continue to have productive conversations and work towards creating more inclusive laws that both directly and indirectly impact people of color in the United States.