Bridges: The First-Person Writing Project

Bridges art

Bridges is a student-led endeavor that creates a space for less-commonly told stories. Each year, it draws about half a dozen students who are interested in exploring how identity and background inform the law school experience—and who wish to highlight the wide range of perspectives and experiences that make our community vibrant and rich.

Travis Gidado, JD/MBA, ’22, founded the program in 2019 and built it with support from the Law School’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Communications. Originally, it was an in-person program: writers would gather over coffee and pastries to talk about their ideas in a Law School seminar room. Some crafted portions of their essays in the Green Lounge or elsewhere in the building, surrounded by the buzz of Law School life. They benefited from regular contact with each other and the rest of the community.

Then, of course, the world changed.

The 2020-2021 Bridges cohort created their essays in the heavy and sometimes lonely shadow of a global pandemic, gathering not in person, but via Zoom. But over the course of the academic year, they tested and refined their ideas, challenged and supported one another, and formed a vibrant community, just as the inaugural cohort did. Their pieces now join the library started by the 2019-2020 group, who completed their work as the pandemic was beginning. Each essay in this collection reflects an individual creator’s hopes, struggles, and viewpoints during the time period in which it was written.

In many cases, the participants joined Bridges because they wanted to offer roadmaps for moving through adversity. They wanted to reach admitted law students who might otherwise struggle to “see” themselves in law school, despite the successes that had earned them spots. They wanted to say the things that are sometimes hard to say out loud.

Telling tough stories publicly is difficult—for writers and for their readers—but that’s part of what Gidado had in mind when he wrote to the Law School’s Dean of Students in 2019 to ask whether such a program might be possible. The writing process offers a unique opportunity for self and group reflection, Gidado said, and elevating personal narratives can expand conversation and enrich a community. That was Gidado’s own experience when he shared his essay in the program’s first year, and it was what drove him to advocate for a second Bridges season despite the challenges wrought by COVID-19.

“This was an experiment in every sense of the word, and I had no idea how it would evolve,” Gidado said. “Thankfully, I could not have envisioned more honest, thoughtful, or open-minded cohorts, and I’ll cherish the communities we created together for the rest of my life.”