When Adanna Smith started college, she wanted to be a doctor. As an undergraduate at the University of Dayton majoring in biology, she took a class with a professor from Cameroon. After learning from him how dire the health care situation was there, she visited Cameroon for a month and volunteered at the Kumba District Hospital, assisting doctors and caring for patients.
“That first time I went I was really torn up about the inequities of health care,” she said. “They have to do so much without technology.” So on a second month-long visit she brought 150 pounds of medical supplies and equipment, such as digital thermometers, that had been donated by her family and friends.
Her college mentors started urging her to consider a career in law instead of medicine. “I was more passionate about public policy issues and the disparities in health care than I was about actually doing the medical work,” says Ms. Smith. She changed her major to psychology and applied to law school.
That turned out to be a good move. “I have grown to love the law,” says Ms. Smith, 24, who will receive her J.D. degree on May 13. “I love to research. One of the reasons I’m successful in Moot Court is because I’m so well-prepared.”
To call her successful is a mild understatement. Ms. Smith won Best Oral Advocate at the National Black Law Students Association’s Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition in March. She also won first place and Best Oral Advocate at the regional competition in February. She is wrapping up service as president of the law school’s Moot Court Board.
Earlier this year, Ms. Smith and classmate Shaneel Myles went up against Prof. Kimberly Wehle and Prof. Phil Closius in the American Constitution Society’s “Clash of the Titans” Moot Court competition at UB Law — and won handily, according to the judges.
In spite of her Moot Court prowess, “Competition is very stressful to me,” Ms. Smith says. “If I take deep breaths and calm myself down, I do OK.”
Still, she loves the intellectual challenge. “Moot Court is a well-rounded experience. You’re doing a lot of research, you’re writing a 35-page brief. Then you probably change your argument after finishing the brief.”
Ms. Smith says she is still interested in international health care law as well as appellate advocacy. After graduation, she will spend a year clerking for Baltimore Circuit Judge Julie R. Rubin. But it’s likely she will be back to UB to visit. “I love this place,” she says.