When Aaron Diggins crossed the stage in May 2015 at TWU Commencement, he realized that his degree in criminal justice simply would not have been possible if it weren’t for the strong women in his life. Aaron, now enrolled in law school at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, credits his “granny,” mother, sister and his wife with supporting him throughout his life. Shortly after completing his TWU degree, Aaron with his wife, Princess, set up the Leona Robinson-Diggins Scholarship Endowment Fund to keep the legacy of his caring grandmother, Leona Robinson, alive and to support the women of TWU who want to enter the legal field. Aaron told TWU Alumni Connection the story of the decisions that shaped the 33 years of his life.
“In 2013, thirteen years after I had first enrolled in college, I decided to complete my bachelor’s degree requirements, which I achieved in May 2015. The impetus came from my 2012 decision to become an attorney. I learned that TWU administered a criminal justice program that would accommodate the life of a working professional and family man who sought to moonlight as a student,” said Aaron when asked how he came to enroll at TWU. While completing his degree requirements, Aaron also got involved with the Barrister’s Club, a student-run legal-interest organization. It was there he noticed that women were underrepresented in this field and learned that no scholarships currently existed at TWU for students interested in studying the law.
Born in Los Angeles, CA and raised in the inner city, Aaron notes that in the communities where he grew up “gang activity and mistrust of the legal system by the Black community was ubiquitous.” With the help of his “Granny” his single, working mother supported he and his sister. His grandparents still lived in Cleveland, Ohio, and many summers were spent in their home. “While there, I learned of Granny’s selfless habits and the consequences of those habits. Often Granny’s house was visited by people who would help Granny run errands, clean house, entertain my sister and me or simply keep her company.” As he grew older he realized that these were “strangers” that she had helped along the way. “To her, everyone was a family member –the difference being whether they were known family members or not-yet-known family members.” Granny, he says, opened her heart and home to those who needed spiritual guidance or a home until they were back on their feet.
After high school Aaron spent 8 years in the Marine Corps, then 6 years in the Air Force and during his service was deployed several times. “In 2004, I moved to Dallas from New York after having returned to the U. S. from a deployment to Iraq. I subsequently joined the Dallas Police Department.” He recently moved from full-time to part-time service to focus on law school. “I plan to use my law degree to build upon my professional experiences as a former military service member and police officer in order to cohere and advance America’s national-security and civil-justice interests.”
Remembering the women in his life Aaron said, “My mother began her professional career over 30 years ago as a typist for the Department of Water and Power of the City of Los Angeles (DWP). She rose thought the ranks and retired in 2015 as the Assistant Budget Director for DWP, a capacity in which she helped oversee a multi-billion dollar budget.” Aaron’s sister is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she served as an editor of UPenn’s law review and is an associate at a large law firm. “My wife is a Sergeant of Police for the Dallas Police Department; she outranks me at the office and at home!”
He summarizes, “Granny included, my life’s progress has been inspired by some incredibly intelligent, strong-willed, successful and powerful women who have mentored me along my journey; I was raised by these women, I served my country and my community with these women, and at TWU I had the privilege of learning alongside these women.”
Aaron and his wife, parents to two children, believe in TWU’s mission to empower women. “As long-standing members of our nation’s legal community, my wife and I have witnessed the positive impact women within that community have had on society.” They feel that the fund they have established is a small gesture of support for these women. They did so in the name of Granny to honor her and to perpetuate her idea of family. “No one is a stranger, rather, we are all family members who are meant to support each other, the only difference being that some family members are already known to us while others are simply yet-to-be known to us.”
The TWU family thanks the Diggins family for their support of TWU students through the Leona Robinson-Diggins Scholarship Endowment Fund.