Diana Kim – A Working Mom with Two Young Sons - Named Law School’s 2013 Patsy Mink Legislative Fellow

March 18, 2013


A young working mother going to Law School at night has been named the 2013 recipient of the Patsy T. Mink Legislative Fellowship at the University of Hawai‘i’s William S. Richardson School of Law.

 

Diana Kim, a 27-year-old full-time UH lecturer with two young children, will spend two months this summer working in the office of U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa as part of a program that honors Mink’s legacy.

 

“When I saw the documentary in graduate school about her life I said to myself ‘She’s my role model,’” said Kim, who graduated from Maui High School, just as Mink had done years earlier.

“Patsy Mink’s legacy has really given me the opportunity to pick up where she left off,” said Kim. “She gave women the chance to do so much more in college but now there is so much needed in family-friendly legislation. There’s a fundamental change in the workplace and in society that we need to address, this tension between work and child-care responsibilities.”

This is the 11th year of the Law School’s Patsy Mink Legislative Fellowship and each year it has provided funding to support an outstanding law student for the summer in Washington, D.C.

It was launched by Richardson students in 2002, the year Mink died, to commemorate her work in representing the under-represented. One of Mink’s crowning achievements was authoring Title IX in the Education Amendments of 1972 – giving women equal access to opportunities in education.

Each year Hawai‘i’s Congressional team has graciously invited the Fellows to spend several months learning about legislation, researching issues, writing bills, and fashioning testimony.

Richardson Law Dean Avi Soifer said the Mink fellowship is one of the many remarkable ways law students have made a difference, not only for their own education, but in helping to create change within the community.

Soifer said: “We are very proud that the Mink Fellowship was started by a small group of women law students. The program - and the students who have helped to sustain it over the years - has already made a difference and several Mink Fellows have been hired to do important work on congressional staffs.”

Just as Mink earned a law degree – and then ran for political office to affect change and to create a more just society – Kim sees a law degree as a basic step toward societal change.

Because she works full-time, she is enrolled in the Law School’s Part-Time Evening Program launched in 2008 to give working professionals the opportunity to earn law degrees. She expects to earn her J.D. in four years.

In addition to working fulltime as a lecturer in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at UH, Kim is also running for a Neighborhood Board seat. But she’s also looking far down the road to other elected office where she’ll have the chance to enhance the support system for working parents with young families.

Kim will be honored at a free public reception Tuesday, March 19 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in Classroom 3 at the Law School at 2515 Dole Street. Catherine Betts, Executive Director of the Hawai‘i State Commission on the Status of Women – a 2004 Patsy Mink Legislative Fellow, and a 2006 graduate of Richardson Law School – will be the guest speaker.

Pat DeLeon, the long-time Chief of Staff for the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, will be a special guest. Inouye hosted the very first Patsy Mink Fellow in his Washington office.