The NCBF Open Door Fellowship is a unique, competitive opportunity for first-year North Carolina law students from historically excluded or disadvantaged backgrounds. Open Door Fellows will participate in a paid summer program providing an opportunity to gain experience in a legal work setting. As the legal profession in North Carolina grows and its members become increasingly diverse, this flagship program signals a collective commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and a desire to welcome all who want to serve the people of North Carolina through the legal profession. Fellows will benefit from meaningful professional experiences and opportunities to widen their professional networks, to “open doors” and prepare them for the next steps in their legal careers. Tavaria Smith and Zi Zhou have been recognized as 2023 Open Door Fellows.
Tavaria Smith currently is a 1L student at NC Central School of Law. She is originally from Athens, Georgia and graduated from the University of Georgia in 2021. She was a participant in Upward Bound, a college preparatory program designed to support low-income, first-generation college students. As a college student earning her Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies with minors in Spanish and Women’s Studies, Tavaria served as a Pre-Law Student Ambassador, Secretary of the Black Educational Support Team, and Ambassador for ExperienceUGA program. At NCCU, Tavaria serves as a 1L Student Bar Association Representative and 1L BARBRI Ambassador. She has an interest in civil rights and will be serving her Open Door Fellowship summer with the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission under the supervision of Lindsey Smith.
Zi Zhou currently is a 1L student at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law. She is a first-generation immigrant from Hunan, China who grew up in Madison County, NC and speaks Mandarin in addition to English. Zi serves on the Multicultural and Diversity Committee of UNC’s Student Bar Association and is a member of the Asian-American Law Students Association and Women in Law. During her 1L year she provided pro bono service through the organization Disability Rights NC. Zi’s undergraduate degree is from UNC-Chapel Hill, where she received a B.A. dual majoring in Political Science and Peace, War and Defense. She has an interest in corporate law and will be serving her Open Door Fellowship summer with the general counsel’s office of The Local Government Federal Credit Union under the supervision of Dayatra Matthews.