Ph.D. in Law Candidate Chianaraekpere “Chianara” Ike Receives the 2023 Justice Charles Z. Smith Law Student Award

UW Law is proud to announce that the 2023 Justice Charles Z. Smith Award has been awarded to Chianaraekpere “Chianara” Ike, a Ph.D. in Law candidate and Comparative Law and Society Studies (CLASS) Center Fellow.

The Justice Charles Z. Smith Award is awarded to one student per year from each of the three law schools in Washington state. Together with the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission (MJC), the law schools established the annual award to honor the legacy of Justice Smith, the first person of color to serve as Justice on the Washington State Supreme Court. 

Ike’s nomination was affirmed by numerous staff and faculty, including Professor Terry Price; Anna Endter, Associate Dean for Student Affairs; Professor William Covington, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Lisa Castilleja, Director of Inclusion Initiatives, Community Outreach & Alumni Relations. The award recognition included an official ceremony and a monetary prize.

A Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) Senator, Ike has also served in leadership capacities on the Student Bar Association and the former Dean’s Advisory Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DAC-DEI).

“[Ike’s] unique tenure in student leadership as a Ph.D. student is benefitting all student leaders at UW Law,” said Endter. “Her colleagues rely on her for advice and mentoring because of her commitment to ensuring that student leaders are applying the principles of DEI in their roles. She has demonstrated through countless volunteer service hours on the SBA and DAC-DEI that she is living the legacy of Justice Charles Z. Smith.”

Justice Smith, the namesake of the award, served on the Washington State Supreme Court from 1988-2002.  He was the founding chairperson of the court’s Minority and Justice Commission. Through these roles and many other professional activities, Justice Smith advanced justice, equality and public service and is widely recognized as one of Washington’s most respected lawyers, mentors and jurists.

Covington and Castilleja wrote a joint statement saying, “Ike has been a tireless advocate for marginalized students, especially international and graduate students at UW Law. Her willingness to speak up for those who do not have a voice at the table and challenge norms to ensure equity make her an ideal role model for future student leaders. She has been a consistent champion for marginalized students.”

Ike was recognized at a ceremony held at Seattle University, which rotates through each of the law schools in Washington state each year.

In the award recipients’ remarks at the podium, Ike stated, “From a really young age, I have learned and come to believe in the law as a tool for social change. It is the sharpest tool in my advocacy. As I work towards finishing my studies at UW Law and moving on to begin my career as an academic, my goal will always be to embody these DEI principles in my life and work.”

“I am humbled and deeply grateful for this award. I continue to speak up and do all that I am being honored for,” Ike said, “because I deeply care.”