A year ago Amber Goodwin only hoped her ancestors were proud as she pursued her law degree. Now, only days away from walking the stage at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, she is certain that proud may be an understatement.
“Sorry not sorry in advance for all the law graduation photos y’all are about to get,” wrote the soon-to-be lawyer in a Twitter post.
Two decades ago Goodwin was pursuing her dream of attending law school. But where some found celebratory news, she found rejection from more than ten schools. Still, her passion to fight for justice would not let her dream go unrealized, not even if it meant yet again applying to countless law schools at the age of 39.
“My mentality was: I’m going to keep applying places and they have to tell me no,” Goodwin told “Good Morning America.” Her unwavering belief in herself helped guide her to Mitchell Hamline. Now, at the age of 41, Goodwin is marking the milestone by inspiring others to have that same relentless pursuit of their dreams, even when they think they have aged out of possibilities.
“I’m 41, never been married, have no kids, and most days society refuses to celebrate people like me. It’s been a very rough year but this is a bright spot for many of us. It was all worth it,” wrote Goodwin on social.
Prior to attending law school, the Houston native found her way to Capitol Hill where she worked her way up from intern to staff assistant to Sen. Rob Menendez (D-NJ) to joining the grassroots presidential campaign of then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. She also founded the Community Justice Action Fund, an organization working to combat gun violence in Black and brown communities.
All the while Goodwin had her sights on the prize: being able to influence laws that provide justice to overlooked and over-punished communities. A fight that will be made that much easier when she passes the bar exam.
In the future, “Goodwin will continue to fight for social justice causes and intends to support marginalized communities by fundamentally challenging existing institutional structures and holding people accountable through impact litigation, class actions, and legislative work,” wrote the Minnesota State Bar Association in a 2020 profile on Goodwin.
While her journey looked far different from what she envisioned as a 20-something hopeful, there is no denying that Goodwin has done, in part, exactly what she set out to do. “The valleys, dark days, pain and hustle was worth it. I’m so glad I was reminded years ago that it’s never too late + to never ever settle for less than your dreams. #legallyblack #classof2021,” wrote Goodwin last week.
Goodwin’s graduation is set for June 6, but she’s already begun to receive her flowers across social.
“Women pursuing their dreams at any stage of life is always something to cheer about!!!!! So grateful for your awesome achievement and dedication”
“41 where?!? Ageless aspiration! Thank you!”
“Congratulations! Admire your persistence. Always hang onto that trait and you will continue to succeed.”