Leading the Leaders: UF Law Students Head Florida Blue Key
The University of Florida College of Law often cites its strong alumni network and connections to political leaders, and its professors refer to the power UF law graduates can wield and the faculty’s responsibility to teach students to use it for the greater good.
These are more than just words. Particularly within the state of Florida, many of those responsible for shaping the world we live in learned the law in these halls. And the first place to look for tomorrow’s leaders is the prestigious leadership organization Florida Blue Key, where law students have been represented in disproportionate numbers since its formation in 1923. Of its nearly 150 presidents, fewer than 25 lack a UF law degree. Its top two positions are now held by UF law students Karen Persis (3L) and Alexis Lambert (2L).
To list just a few, FBK/College of Law alumni have served as Florida governors (Lawton Chiles and Ruben Askew), justices on the Florida Supreme Court (former Chief Justices Alto Adams, Stephen H. Grimes and Charles T. Wells), and leaders and organizers in their communities throughout the state (Dr. Stephen C. O’Connell; Buddy Dyer, Mayor of Orlando; Bill McBride and former UF President Marshall Criser).
“We are a leadership organization,” said Persis. “Service and commitment to the University of Florida is our priority, and that is what we focus on.”
FBK members are “tapped” based on demonstrated service and commitment to the university. Most are chosen as undergraduates, though some — like recent initiate Ben Diamond (Florida Law Review’s Fall 2003 editor) — are picked after entering graduate/professional school.
Future members often begin organizing events and mobilizing classmates to accomplish goals as soon as they hit campus, a pattern of productivity and achievement repeated lifelong for many.
“It’s so interesting to see patterns between the organizations students are involved in and the paths their careers take,” said UF law Historian Betty Taylor. “Florida Blue Key members often go into politics or leadership positions, while many Law Review members are now professors.”
Among FBK’s projects is Gator Growl, the world’s largest student-run pep-rally, which gives FBK members the chance to work with a variety of comedians, bands and performers, many on the cusp of stardom. (for details, visit www.gatorgrowl.org)