Marquette student works to increase diverse representation on campus, improve justice system

By Shelby Williamson, senior communication specialist in the Office of Marketing and Communication at Marquette University

Samari Price has had a passion for criminology since middle school.

Now a junior at Marquette University double majoring in the subject and social welfare in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences – and working her way to a law degree – she is more motivated than ever to make her career dreams a reality.

Criminology appeals to Price not just because Black women are underrepresented in the field, but also because Price also happens to have grown up in Milwaukee’s 53206 community – the most incarcerated ZIP code in the country.

She said personal experiences with law enforcement have inspired her to help improve the justice system for future generations by becoming the best criminal defense attorney she can be.

“One of the reasons many people spend a lot of time imprisoned is because of the lack of competence from their defense counsel,” Price said. “When I earn my law degree, I want to do pro bono work in the 53206 – the place that shaped me into the woman I am today.”

Since starting her college experience at Marquette, Price was awarded the Wisconsin Resident Grant and Talent Incentive Program Grant. She said the support helped her as a low-income, first-generation student, focus on school, rather than worrying about working more hours to make ends meet.

Price also has taken on many leadership roles at Marquette – an endeavor she said she undertook in part to “change the trajectory and college experience for Black students at Marquette” and increase the representation of diverse students on campus.

She is the president of Marquette’s NAACP chapter, and is also involved in the Black Student Union, Marquette University Student Government, the Pre-Law Scholars-Program and much more.

She does it all while maintaining a 3.8 GPA and Dean’s List standing.

Price is a Panda Cares Scholar, an Ajila Leadership Fellow and is an Educational Opportunity Program student.

EOP is a federally funded TRiO academic program at Marquette that motivates and enables low-income and first-generation students whose parents do not have a baccalaureate degree to enter and succeed in higher education. In 1969, Marquette founded the first EOP program in the nation, which has earned a reputation as one of the most distinguished, admired and respected federal TRiO programs in the country.

“My parents and grandparents influence me the most in my academic career,” Price said. “I love how they always send me words of encouragement every single day. I am the first person in my family to go to a four-year college so there is a lot of pressure to succeed. However, every day my family makes sure to tell me that do not let the stress get to me because they will be proud of me no matter what.”

Looking ahead, Price also wants to create a business that will focus on supporting high school seniors with resources like scholarships and care packages as they pursue higher education.