Law school student achieving lofty goals, despite challenges of Sickle cell Disease

With a grateful heart, 35-year-old Amber Simpson, a student at TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law, will receive her well-deserved diploma on May 8, 2020.

“It has been a fight all the way, so much so that when I was doing my undergrad work at the University of Oklahoma, I missed a couple of semesters because I was sick,” she said.

Simpson, who battles Sickle Cell Disease, has had five hospital stays since 2017.  

She explained, “The experiences of Sickle Cell sufferers are different. In a healthy person, red blood cells are actually round and carry oxygen. A sickle cell person’s blood cells don’t carry oxygen. The cells are brittle, hard and folded under like a sickle, making it difficult to move through veins and causing excruciating pain as it cuts off oxygen throughout the body.”

Simpson said she’s happy to know that, through research, a lot of progress is being made.

“New medicines are coming out, and about 100 people have actually been cured through experimental trials by drug companies,” she said.

Simpson grew up in the Dallas area, where her mother and father always encouraged her to fight her disability.

“My parents are both college graduates. My mom is a nutritionist, and my dad was a police officer for 26 years with the Dallas Police Department. Later, he accepted a position as the first black police chief of Corpus Christi. Tragically, he was killed in an off-duty motorcycle accident at age 51,” she said.

“Despite limitations, Amber perseveres,” commented Lydia Johnson, associate professor and director of the Criminal Law Clinic at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

She added, “Amber was a  student in my Title IX class last summer. Title IX mandates that any educational institution that receives financial aid can’t discriminate. Amber made a 10-minute presentation on the ‘Consent’ aspect of Title IX. The #MeToo movement has forced everyone to focus on what it means.

“The judges all agreed;  Amber’s presentation captured the essence of the movement and defined ‘Consent.’ Her disease has given her an awareness of the importance of remaining steadfast toward achieving, despite her disability.”

Currently, Simpson has two years’ experience as the chief justice of the Executive Board of Advocates, an organization started at the law school to promote advocacy. Students learn how to be trial advocates by competing with other schools. All total, Simpson has served on the Board of Advocates for five years.
Simpson is also a law clerk for Clarke & Associates. Upon graduation, she will become an associate attorney with that firm.

Simpson commented, “My dad’s profession in law enforcement contributed to my desire to be a trial attorney. I’m hoping to practice Labor & Employment Law and some Criminal Defense Law.”

Simpson also said she is grateful to both of her parents for setting a good example and teaching her that sickle cell should not defeat her. She is grateful for two sisters who are always there for her and for lifelong friends who have stuck with her.

During this holiday season, Simpson plans to spend quality time with devoted friends.

“Soon, I will be studying for the bar exam and will have little time to spare,” she said. “My biggest wish in life is to be remembered as someone who gave her all and did the best she could.”

Minnie Payne is a freelance journalist and staff reporter for Houston Woman Magazine.

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