July 29, 2019 | Jim Townsend
When University of Houston-Clear Lake alumna Kenesha Starling finishes summer school in a few weeks, she will start her third year at South Texas College of Law Houston, where she was recently named editor-in-chief of the prestigious South Texas Law Review — the first African-American in the college’s 96-year history to be appointed to the post.
Starling packs a lot of work into her days. She is a full-time contracts manager for a federal agency, overseeing finances, compliances and resources. She works two days a week as a volunteer intern with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. She is also raising her 15-year-old son.
“I’m living the dream,” she quipped. “I’m in my office three days a week. Whatever I can’t get done while I’m there, I do it from home. And then I’m in the DA’s office two days a week. I have summer school for two hours three days a week.”
Her commute takes her from League City to downtown Houston. Starling said she squeezes in her editorial duties “here or there, after classes and on weekends.”
South Texas Law Review is completely run by students. Getting in is tough, let alone being elected its chief editor. Membership is by invitation only. Students must have at least 30 hours of credit with four semesters remaining, have at minimum GPA of 3.25, have completed two prerequisite legal research and writing courses and have participated in a written competition.
As the Law Review’s first African-American editor, she realizes the weight of the role: “It gives new meaning to the Scripture, ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’ Not only must you strive for excellence for yourself, you must ensure excellence is achieved for the success of those who will come behind you,” she said. “The reality is, if you don’t knock it out of the park, that ‘failure’ becomes a stigma and follows everyone who looks like you. That’s a weighty but exciting opportunity, a chance to pay forward what your predecessors made possible for you.”
Starling has a bachelor’s degree in general business from Texas Southern University, and an MBA from UH-Clear Lake in 2005. “I had my son during summer school in my first year,” she said. “I missed the last portion of classes so I had to play catch-up before a final exam in math. My professor was so nice and accommodating and I really appreciated him. It really helped me in building professional interpersonal skills that I will carry with me into the legal profession.”
Starling has her eye on a career in legal malpractice and labor and employment law.
But she also hopes to work as a pro bono defense attorney.
Does she ever sleep? “Oh, no,” she said. “I have to study — and be a mom. I nap, I guess.”
UH-Clear Lake’s College of Business is an accredited member of AACSB International —The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.