“I have always been interested in human rights and trying to help people,” says 1L Tatenda Makanza. A native of Zimbabwe, Tatenda earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and peace and global studies at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. She went on to earn two master’s degrees: the first in political science from the Graduate Institute of International Development and Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, and the second in ethics, peace, and global affairs at American University in Washington, DC. Along the way, she worked for several non-profit organizations in the US, Switzerland, and Zimbabwe, including as a senior program officer for the National Democratic Institute, a non-governmental organization focused on safeguarding democratic institutions around the world.
For Tatenda, the decision to come to BYU Law was simple. “I decided to go to law school because I really wanted to help people and I felt like I wasn’t doing that as well as I could,” she says. “Sometimes the work you do seems very important, for example promoting awareness of the right to participate in elections, but you don’t see the impact immediately. I wanted to be able to work in an area where I could potentially see the impact immediately. I decided the best way to do that and to advocate for myself and for other people would be to know the law.”
One of the perks of BYU Law for Tatenda is the smaller class sizes. “If you are an individual who works well in smaller settings, it’s very helpful. That’s the type of person I am—I would definitely feel lost at a larger school.” Tatenda also appreciates BYU Law’s supportive faculty. “The faculty and the whole law school community is really invested in the success of the students. After midterms, the messaging from my professors was ‘If you didn’t do as well as you hoped, it’s not the end of the world. You will still succeed. You will still be a good lawyer. That’s something that I think is unique to BYU Law.”
Living in Utah, and being “an ocean and continent apart” from her family is a sacrifice, and Tatenda hopes to make it home in December to attend her brother’s wedding. “I have a twin brother and a sister in South Africa, and another brother and sister living in Zimbabwe,” she says. After graduation, however, she plans to put down roots in the US. “I’m keeping an open mind when it comes to choosing an area of law to practice, but I’m interested in health care malpractice law, tax law, and employment rights. There are so many great opportunities to explore my interests here.”