Samaya Vails

Samaya Vails, a freshman in Niagara University’s criminal justice and criminology program, will be one of 20 college undergraduates participating in the University at Buffalo School of Law’s Discover Law Undergraduate Scholars Program this summer. The four-week residential program provides academically promising college students a rigorous academic experience that helps them develop the skills they will need for law school success.

The Niagara Falls resident plans to pursue a career in law and jurisprudence, with the ultimate goal of becoming a judge. As a participant in the program, Vails hopes to “develop skills that will help strengthen my ability to be an advocate for two things I am passionate about: justice and prison reform.”

Marissa Eames

Marissa Eames, a sophomore psychology major from Wilson, N.Y., completed the Discover Law program last summer. Although undecided at the time about her intent to pursue a career in law, she applied to the program because she thought it would give her an opportunity to learn more about the legal field and what law school would be like. But she says it provided her with much more than she anticipated.

“Being from a predominantly white area, I think it was inspiring to be surrounded by so many dedicated and powerful students of color,” she said. “We were able to form such a bond in a short amount of time, and we all still keep in contact.”

Eames, who is also pursuing minors in philosophy and law, notes that the connections she made with the other participants, her student mentor, and her attorney mentor, “played a significant role in the opportunities I have been fortunate enough to receive.” 

Kevin Hinkley, director of Niagara's pre-law advisement program, notes that other students in the program have attended pipeline programs, including the California India Law Association’s Pathway to Law Program and Florida State University College of Law’s Donald J. Weidner Summer for Undergraduates Program.

“Expanding access to legal education for aspiring law students from groups historically excluded from and underrepresented in the legal profession is an urgent imperative,” he said. “We are incredibly proud of the Niagara pre-law students and alumni who have earned admission into highly competitive law school pipeline programs in recent years. The entire Niagara University community recognizes and celebrates Marissa's and Samaya's remarkable achievements as student-scholars in Niagara's pre-law program and as participants in the Discover Law program at UB Law.”

UB Law is also one of Niagara's partner law schools for the accelerated bachelor's to JD (3+3) program.

For more information about the pre-law program, contact Hinkley at