For Clayton Gray, his decision to take on a criminology course at Douglas College came around the same way many young men try new things: for a girl.
“There was this girl, and she said ‘hey, come to this class,’” the Criminology grad recalled. “I went to check it out, and my teacher, Lorree Bogden, was so articulate and passionate – I was drawn to her teaching style.”
As for the girl?
“She actually dropped the course,” Gray laughed.
Fast-forward a few years later, and Gray is pursuing his passion for justice as a transfer to the University of Victoria, where he is working towards his law degree.
Gray – whose mother is Ojibwa – has been interested in law all of his life, specifically in relation to social justice and his family’s history. Affectionately known as the “lawyer for the defense” while growing up, Gray recalls a story his mother told him about the day his grandfather decided his grandson’s future career path – when he was negotiating over how many scoops of ice cream he should get after dinner.
“My grandfather turned to my parents and said ‘that kid, he should be a lawyer,’” Gray said.
Getting to this point hasn’t been easy, Gray noted. Prior to coming to Douglas, the 28–year-old had a difficult time at Simon Fraser University, resulting in an early departure. Once at Douglas, Gray found himself struggling again.
“My academic history wasn’t the brightest. And it was suggested I take Student Success,” Gray said. “Between that and the criminology course, it helped turn around my academic trajectory.”
The first-year law student also credits the support he received from Aboriginal Co-ordinator Dave Seaweed as another factor to his success.
“He was one of my mentors. I don’t know where I would be without Dave,” Gray said.
Aside from law, Gray, an avid wrestler throughout high school, also started a drop-in wrestling program at the Urban Native Youth Association of Vancouver, which he continued leading before moving to Victoria. Gray was also an active member of the Douglas community, participating in number of campus activities and working as a student assistant.
“Students need to get involved with their school in an active way,” he said. “You make connections at school that you will use in the future, and you don’t make those connections if you just come and sit in class.”