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SXU Alumna Launches Organization to Expand MENA Representation


Saint Xavier University (SXU) alumna Denah Sweis '21 has founded the first-ever Middle Eastern and North African Law Students Association (MENALSA) at Chicago-Kent College of Law. Sweis founded the organization with the intention of expanding MENA representation and developing MENA leadership at Chicago-Kent and in the larger legal community.

"The MENA identity is inclusive of individuals from diverse backgrounds, representing various ancestries, religions, ethnicities and identities. MENALSA seeks to promote an understanding of MENA social, legal and professional issues to provide a place where students can seek internship from MENA legal professionals within the community. MENALSA will work closely with other MENA organizations in the Chicagoland area and receive major support from the Arab American Bar Association of Illinois," said Sweis.

Sweis is currently in her second year of law school and working at an employee benefits claim clinic and handles issues involving employer-sponsored health, disability, life, and accidental death policies. During her courses in law school, she's been able to partake in oral arguments, write legal memorandums, draft contracts, connect with judges and attorneys, and more. She's involved in several student organizations including the First-Generation Law Student Association, Society of Women in Law, Student Bar Association and Diversity Council. She's also an active member of the Arab American Bar Association of Illinois.

Sweis is grateful for all she gained from her time at SXU and felt well-prepared to enter and excel in law school.

"My time at SXU has helped prepare me for success in law school in many ways – from the coursework to the professors and focus on diversity and inclusion. I still keep in touch with my SXU family and they are some of my biggest supports. I am forever grateful for the opportunities SXU has provided me. I gave the commencement speech, worked and was involved on campus, and had a community I can continue to lean on. The education I received and knowledge I gained at SXU gave me the resources and confidence I needed to do well in my law courses, especially study habits and test-taking skills," said Sweis.

Sweis also believes her time at SXU gave her a drive to continue to make the world a better place.

"SXU's tagline, 'Calling All Doers,' has so much meaning behind it. It's a call to students to take what they learn at SXU and use it for the good of the world. I'm implementing that in the path to my legal career by working hard and pushing through boundaries. I have many aspirations and hope to one day create a scholarship for minority students like myself and give back to the community. I am happy that SXU has prepared me to take on challenges and overcome obstacles in the field," said Sweis.

In the future, Sweis hopes to help MENALSA engage in a variety of cultural, academic and community-based activities and events. As she moves toward the completion of law school, she hopes to secure a job position, graduate, pass the Illinois Bar Exam, and eventually open her own law firm.