Layla West L’23
Layla West hopes her work–from interdisciplinary scholarship to burgeoning constitutional advocacy–will contribute to sustainable systems for advancing racial and gender justice.
A dedicated student and creative scholar, Layla studied English, Africana Studies, and Egyptian Hieroglyphs at Howard University. Her passion for Black American history and culture developed a strong critical posture, which she channels into various artistic, academic, and service projects. When she wasn’t dancing with the Howard University Bisonettes, Layla was an active member of the Student Council and HUSA Senate. In 2015, she co-founded the Young AfricanA Leadership Initiative (YAALI), a student-led nonprofit that leads cohorts on research fellowships to Ghana and South Africa.
Layla’s academic curiosity evolved into a practice of advocacy during her Fulbright fellowship in Cape Town. While teaching English, she also crafted lessons that compared the South African and African American struggle for racial justice. She then earned a master’s at NYU, researching Black visuality, Egyptian historiography, and surveillance studies. At Penn Carey Law, Layla hopes to make a scholarly contribution to this ongoing resistance. Her current research interests include reparations and racial privacy.
In 2021, Layla split her summer working both as a research assistant under the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court and as a Global Justice Fellow with the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), a social justice think tank. Layla recently completed the Ella Baker Internship Program at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).