In his first week as an Indiana Law student, Terrance Stroud found the Dean’s Suite, strode past the secretary, and walked into the office of the Dean Fred Aman.
One usually makes an appointment to see the dean, or if the matter is really urgent, waits in the chairs just inside the doors to Suite 240. Stroud wouldn’t wait—he had a message for Dean Aman.
After a brief introduction, Stroud got right to the point.
“I came here from New York, and I expect you to help me get back there,” he said.
A brazen move for anyone, let alone a 1L. But in that moment, Stroud set himself on a path to take charge of his own future. And he hasn’t slowed since.
“My path to Maurer was improbable, to say the least,” Stroud said recently from his office in New York. “I was born and raised in Brooklyn, and my family is from Trinidad.” Stroud came from what he described as a traditional Caribbean family with a long lineage of educators.
“My great-grandfather Rupert Ince was a teacher, my grandmother Ruby Blackman was a teacher, my mother Rowena Blackman-Stroud was a teacher, and my uncle Clarence Blackman was a teacher,” he said. “Education, to us as a family, was essential.”
Stroud’s mother immigrated to the United States in the 1970s and served as a United University Professions (UUP) union leader at the State University of New York’s Downstate Medical Center.
“She immigrated to this country and learned how to operate in spaces where historically marginalized people hadn’t been present,” Stroud said. “She was the first Black person to be Chapter president of her union as well as UUP’s statewide Treasurer. She was usually the first at everything she did: First Black, first woman, first immigrant. She had always talked to me about spaces, and as I was thinking about my career journey growing up, I started wondering what space I could be in where there weren’t typically people that looked like me.”
Stroud attended Brooklyn Tech High School, one of the nation’s top public schools, and stayed locally for his undergraduate career at Brooklyn College.
“My grandmother once told me that there are many jobs, but there are really only two professions,” Stroud said. “She said, ‘You will be a doctor or a lawyer. But don’t worry, it’s a democracy—you can choose either one!’”
Up to that point, Stroud’s knowledge of the law and what lawyers did was through what he’d seen on old episodes of “Matlock.”
“I had no interest in criminal law, and civil law looked to me like processing papers,” he said. “But one thing I consistently heard really excited me: Having a law degree opens up so many doors, so many opportunities.”
Local law schools reached out to Stroud about staying in the city after Brooklyn College. But by then Stroud had appeared on the radar of someone much farther away.
“Frank Motley was overseeing admissions,” Stroud recalled of the former assistant dean. “He was a Black dean who had attended Columbia Law School in New York, so he knew where I was coming from. I knew I wanted to choose the law school that would make the greatest investment in me as a person. And Indiana University really went out of its way to do that."