When asked about it, Chandon Pierre didn’t pause. Instead, he spoke with conviction, his past inspiring his dream to make a difference.
As a young African-American man who grew up in Reno, Nev., Pierre has experienced injustices, he said. Being followed around by store employees while shopping. Hearing racist comments from the crowd while playing basketball in high school.
“I feel like I have a duty to represent the underrepresented,” said Pierre, now a rising junior at the University of North Dakota. “That’s what I want to make out of my career. I want to fight for equal rights and social justice and fair educational and economic opportunities.”
To that end, Pierre is not only getting a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at UND. He is on a fast track to earn a law degree, as well. UND’s Accelerated Bachelor’s/J.D. program allows Pierre to complete both degrees in six years, instead of seven.
Aside from this unique academic opportunity, the familial feel of UND swayed Pierre, who upon graduating from high school fielded offers from several universities.
“When I got here, it felt like home,” he said. “All the faculty and staff are super helpful. I saw the success alumni have had, and I knew it was a place where I could fit in and be successful.”
That’s what Pierre has done at UND.
He has made the Dean’s List. He also secured a place on the President’s Honor Roll, which requires a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.8 out of 4.0.
“A lot of studying goes into that,” Pierre said. “There are nights where you stay up until 2 a.m., studying for a test or finishing up an assignment.”
I want to fight for equal rights and social justice and fair educational and economic opportunities.
Add to that, college football. Having played both basketball and football in high school, Pierre is a defensive lineman with the Fighting Hawks.
“In football, there are a lot of responsibilities, just like in criminal justice,” he said. “When you’re dealing with both sets of obligations, there’s a lot of leadership and decision-making that you have to take on.”
The team feels like family, he said. The bond he has with his fellow players is the very definition of “brotherhood.” And yet, “balancing school and football is a tough deal,” Pierre said. “There’s a lot that goes into it. A lot of sacrifices you have to make.”
Navigating a busy schedule marked with regular practices, classes and assignments, Pierre maintains his motivation to excel. And although he still hasn’t made up his mind whether to pursue sports law or criminal law, Pierre knows he’ll dedicate himself “to helping other people and having a positive impact on as many people’s lives as possible through the work of law.”