Meet Sofia Schersei, Pacific Law Review’s first Muslim and woman of color Editor-In-Chief
In keeping with her history of breaking barriers, Sofia Schersei, ’22, has been elected the next Editor-in-Chief of the University of the Pacific Law Review. She is believed to be the first Muslim woman and woman of color to hold that position in the publication’s more than fifty year history.
Schersei was born and raised in Germany. Her parents fled Afghanistan in the 1980s when the former Soviet Union invaded their home country. Her family immigrated to the United States when she was a teenager. Her decision to go to law school was driven by her experiences growing up and a desire to help and fight for immigrants and underrepresented communities.
“When I applied to law school and eventually for the Editor-in-Chief position, I didn’t do it just for me. I did it for all the little brown girls,” said Schersei. “I came to McGeorge because it was the only law school where I saw people of color in ways that didn’t feel tokenized. Many individuals at my law school do not know, but English is my third fluent language. I am proud of the many languages I have mastered because they allow me to tackle legal issues in unique and creative ways. If English is not your first language, or if you have an accent, don’t let that hold you back. You are just as worthy of the opportunities as someone else.”
Schersei is already making an impact at Pacific's McGeorge School of Law. She has helped pioneer McGeorge’s first Diversity and First Generation Bar Scholarship Program, which will provide financial aid to diverse and first generation students who need additional financial assistance to cover bar prep or living expenses while studying for the Bar Exam. She also hosts first-gen workshops through McGeorge’s Middle Eastern & South Asian Law Association to help other first-generation law students succeed. And she continues breaking glass ceilings in her new role as McGeorge’s flagship law review’s Editor-in-Chief.
While Schersei may be the first Muslim woman or woman of color in a position that has needed perspectives like hers for far too long, she is actively working to ensure she is not the last. She plans on organizing and leading information sessions to educate and bridge the information gaps between groups of students about the solicitation process and the time commitments that applying for and being on the Pacific Law Review require. She feels strongly that accessibility is paramount to diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s a value she is institutionalizing in Pacific Law Review.
"Having diversity on the Pacific Law Review is great, but we also need to be giving more people the tools that they need to succeed and acquire high-ranking leadership positions. That’s how real, lasting change is going to happen.”
It wasn’t easy for Schersei to develop her level of confidence and self-realization. She overcame socioeconomic barriers and attempts to “other” her, using to the challenges of integrating into a new society to motivate herself to excel. Her drive comes from feeling the constant need to overachieve and honor the sacrifices her parents made. “My parents did their best to put school first. Education was the only thing that no one could take away from us. If that meant buying less groceries or clothes so we could afford to pay for books or paper, that’s what we did. I owe everything to my hardworking parents.”
“The McGeorge community celebrates Schersei’s achievement and is excited to see how the Pacific Law Review will evolve under her leadership as Editor-in-Chief,” said McGeorge Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz. “Well before she was selected for this role, Sofia established herself as a McGeorge student to watch.”