uAspire First One – Wayne Budd

By: Chris Loney | Thursday, January 31, 2013

Finances are the #1 barrier that keeps high-potential students across our country from continuing their education and earning a degree. As part of the uAspire First One Awards, uAspire will be featuring stories of individuals who are first-generation college graduates. Despite many challenges – often because of the high costs of college – they persevered and earned their college degree. Their stories show why it’s so important that education remains an affordable option to all, and how uAspire is committed to this effort.

The following story is about Wayne Budd, Senior Counsel at Goodwin Procter.

Wayne Budd’s story is one in which he learned, from an early age, the power and importance of a college degree. It’s also a story that – due to the color of his skin – he was almost kept from taking advantage of what an education could offer him.

Wayne’s father graduated from high school in the 1930s, then served in the Marine Corps during World War II. At that time, as an African American living in Springfield, college for Wayne’s father was unobtainable. But for his son, Wayne, the message he was given was different – and clear – from the age of 4: “you are going to college.” There was always the need to work and study hard to be well-positioned for college, but Wayne grew up with this idea that he was going to get an education. Wayne was accepted to Boston College and graduated with honors, then moved to Detroit as part of the College Graduate Training Progra at the Ford Motor Company.

Wayne also wanted to attend law school. So he enrolled at Wayne State University – going to school part-time at nights while working days at Ford. He was trying to enter a profession in which very few looked like him. In the 1960s, he didn’t know many people of color who were attorneys. In a class of 110, he was one of three African American students. It wasn’t until his second year of law school when he first had a teacher of color.

That particular professor, on day one, said that he would give just one exam at the end of the year – no quizzes, no midterms – just one final exam. Towards the end of the year, and before that final exam had been given, this teacher told Wayne that he would flunk Wayne out of law school. He didn’t think he had what it took to be a lawyer. Fortunately for Wayne, he managed to get a passing grade.

Two years later, the teacher ran into Wayne and was surprised to see him two weeks away from graduating from law school. He told Wayne that, as an African American, no one would want to hire him as their attorney when he moves back to Boston – even if he could pass the MA bar exam. He figured that law school was just a waste of Wayne’s time – and that’s why he attempted to fail him.

In the years since, Wayne has gained many opportunities to learn from other people, gain mentors, and pay it forward by establishing named scholarships at BC and Wayne State. And Wayne connects this back to the education he received. He does not underestimate the value to be found in education. It afforded him opportunities that others whom he grew up with in Springfield never had. Ever a believer, his own father graduated from college 11 years after Wayne became a First One.


AB, Economics, Boston College (1963)

JD, Wayne State University (1967)


Comments are closed.