Leon Boykins, 2L

Leon Boykins always dreamed of spending his life as a musician in New York City, but that changed when he began teaching. While working as a freelance jazz bassist in Philadelphia, Boykins conducted private music lessons at a creative performing arts high school. “Through that experience, I became increasingly interested in how public schools function,” he says.

Boykins pursued a master’s degree in music education through a program created by Hunter College and The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which led him to work as a full-time public high school teacher in New York City and Brooklyn. At the same time, he began to work on the Broadway show Dear Evan Hansen, but it was shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. “That’s when I started applying to law schools,” he says.

At Michigan Law, there's no shortage of people who have done outstanding things.”

Boykins entered law school with a narrow focus on working for the US Department of Education, and spent a semester as a graduate student instructor and extern in the office of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. In a class called Race in the Law with Professor Michelle Adams, Boykins was able to research the intersection of housing discrimination and how that influences public schools. “It was inspiring to study with someone who has done work in precisely the ways that I would like to,” he says.

“As an older student, I was afraid that accumulating debt would pigeonhole me into areas of the law I wouldn’t otherwise seek to work in,” he says. “Thankfully, the scholarship I received has alleviated that fear, and I feel free to follow my own path.”