Mazaher Kaila: A Powerful Voice for Justice
Well before she knew exactly what a lawyer was, Mazaher Kaila ’19, L’22 knew she wanted to be one. “I might have first gotten the idea from my sister,” she confesses. “But I knew, even when I was in fourth or fifth grade, that lawyers had a voice and the power to make change. That appealed to me.”
Kaila, who is now a second-year student in Syracuse University’s College of Law, moved with her family from Sudan to Central New York when she was four years old. She quickly developed an understanding of certain challenges she’d face growing up in the United States.
“I’m Black, female, an immigrant and Muslim. That puts me pretty much at the lowest level when it comes to social advantage and privilege,” she says. But, she explains, this understanding also fueled her ambitions. “Civic engagement is a core value for me. I have always aspired to help the communities I’m from.”
A Goal in Mind
Growing up, Kaila loved art, played several sports, and was curious about technology and engineering. But by the time she transferred to Syracuse University as a sophomore, she had discovered political science and knew she wanted to learn more. “I realized that to make meaningful change in society, I needed to understand the systems that power it—government and politics—and that’s insight I would gain by studying political science.”
Her goals were further clarified by an internship with a city court judge in Mount Vernon, New York, the summer before her sophomore year. “This was the first time I met a Black woman practicing law.
She was passionate and caring, and treated everyone with the same level of respect, including those before her for sentencing,” Kaila says. The experience transformed what had been a dream without a frame of reference into a concrete possibility for her own future and gave Kaila an aspiration to work toward ...