Layla West L’23
Layla West is a dedicated student and a creative scholar whose academic curiosity has honed a spirit of advocacy.
Layla’s undergraduate study at Howard University focused on Black literature, Africana Studies, and Egyptian Hieroglyphs. These disciplines developed a passion for theory and a strong critical posture, which informed various artistic and research 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 lead cohorts on research fellowships to Ghana and South Africa.
Layla’s passion for diasporic cultures, sustainable remedies for injustice, and academic praxis gained a new dimension with 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. To make a scholarly contribution to this ongoing resistance, she then attended NYU, earning a Master’s in Africana Studies. There, her research in Black visuality, Egyptian historiography, and surveillance studies demanded a pivot to law.
At Penn Law, Layla hopes that her cutting-edge interdisciplinary scholarship and burgeoning Constitutional advocacy will contribute to sustainable systems for advancing racial and gender justice. In 2021, she split her summer being a Global Justice Fellow with social justice think tank, the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), and working as a research assistant under the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court.