Congratulations are in order for Zsa’Queria Martin, a law school graduate with a bright future.
On Oct. 20, the Florida A&M University College of Law alum went viral on Instagram when she took to the platform to announce that she had successfully passed the New York Bar Exam “with a score high enough to waive into any UBE jurisdiction!”
The Uniform Bar Exam tests individuals pursuing law on the fundamental knowledge and legal analysis needed to begin law practice. Administered nationwide, test scores can be transferred to any of the 41 states under UBE jurisdiction if a candidate scores a minimum of 270 or higher out of 400.
“I made it over the minimum threshold to be able to transfer my score into different UBE jurisdictions,” Martin, a 2023 FAMU College of Law graduate, gushed during an interview with MadameNoire over Zoom.
“So, for example, Texas is a UBE state,” she said. “I can transfer my score to that state and do their processes to apply for admission to that state.”
On Friday, Martin took to Instagram with a photo carousel that captured her beaming in a beautiful white dress adorned with her FAMU College of Law stole. The post — which has received over 4,000 likes and climbing — garnered support from netizens across social media. Martin said she’s been overwhelmed by the love.
“I’m so happy and so blessed. So many Black women and Black girls have been telling me,’ Hey, I want to go to law school. And I tell them, ‘Yes! That’s amazing. You got this. You can do this.’ I’m just so blessed and fortunate.”
How hard is it to pass the UBE?
Passing the UBE is no easy feat. In July, the NYC Bar Exam had a 66% pass rate for all test takers. During her last year of law school at FAMU, Martin battled through several personal trials that could have thwarted her path to success.
“My grandfather passed away from Covid, and ten days after he passed away, my great-grandmother passed away,” the brilliant graduate said of her beloved relatives. “Then, this past February, my best friend —who was like a sister to me— she passed away unexpectedly. My brother was in the military. He had experienced a life-changing incident. Life was really just being thrown at me.”
Still, Martin didn’t let grief and sadness overpower her pursuit of greatness. The social justice advocate prayed constantly while preparing for the challenging exam, even waking up to study on the days when she didn’t feel her best.
With hard work and determination, the Greenville, South Carolina native received two scholarships during her last year of college — one provided her with a tutor and writing courses to prepare and successfully pass the bar exam.
“I’m super faithful,” the 27-year-old woman proudly told MadameNoire. “I was like, life has kicked my butt so much, and I will not let it prevail. I just did not want to accept defeat.”
Martin’s passion for social justice and activism started in high school shortly after the death of Trayvon Martin. The changemaker participated in a number of protests and became a prominent figure in the activism community on campus.
While obtaining her undergraduate degree in criminal justice at Clark Atlanta University, Martin started a nonprofit to help uplift city residents and give back to community members in her hometown of Greenville.
“During Thanksgiving, I would pass out turkeys in my hometown or raise money to feed the homeless in Atlanta. It is a blessing. I always talk about my grandfather because when I first started getting into activism, he would always call me ‘chili pepper.’ He told me, ‘You are so hot and so spicy, but I know you’re gonna go out there and do your thing.”
Martin said that she inherited her fiery spirit from her grandmother, Lillian Johnson, who was a changemaker in her own right. In 1972, Johnson became the first Black ER nurse in Greenville.
“My grandma is a part of history,” the soon-to-be-public defender beamed.
2020 was a big year for Martin’s activism work.
In 2020, Martin flew down to Minnesota to be at the front of the picket line when George Floyd’s death sparked a global outcry for justice.
A few months before, the soon-to-be-attorney landed in “good trouble” when she and a group of protestors sat on the front lawn of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to demand accountability for the death of Breonna Taylor.
“If you see pictures, we’re literally locking arms sitting on the front lawn,” Martin recalled of the incredible protest.
“I was so nervous because that arrest happened before my law school journey. But I reached out to some of my mentors, and they were like, ‘That is good trouble — especially with you wanting to do social justice. That’s the good fight.'”
Now that she has successfully passed the UBE, the FAMU graduate can begin to fully transition into her role as a criminal defense attorney with the Bronx Defenders. The nationally recognized nonprofit provides legal help and assistance to low-income families in the Bronx and specializes in various cases, including child welfare, immigration and civil justice.
Martin is currently going through the process of being sworn into her attorney role.
“I’m excited,” the viral star gushed.
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