Ambitious Students Harness Joint Degree Opportunities

Ambitious Students Harness Joint Degree Opportunities

Randy Fitzgerald, Jordan Brooks, Gabriella Kayal, and Delaney Reynolds
Randy Fitzgerald, Jordan Brooks, Gabriella Kayal, and Delaney Reynolds

Not only can these four walk and chew gum, but they probably could also juggle cats and solve the traveling salesman conundrum in their head simultaneously.

These joint degree law students have accomplished impressive feats, demonstrating their dedication to their legal studies and chosen fields. With a diverse range of backgrounds and interests, they have each made significant contributions in their respective areas of expertise. From groundbreaking research to advocacy work, these individuals have proven exceptional leaders in their fields.

Jordan Brooks, Randy Fitzgerald, Gabriella Kayal, and Delaney Reynolds are pursuing multiple advanced degrees and interests across the schools and colleges of the University of Miami in medicine, business, history, and science.


Jordan Brooks, a 32-year-old from rural Mount Vernon, Ohio, is set to graduate in May with a J.D. and M.D. from the Miller School of Medicine. Growing up, Brooks witnessed firsthand the adverse impact the lack of health care access can cause and vowed to join the fight to fix it.

“Rural towns have a lot of health disparities compared to cities,” he said. “And being Black can worsen those disparities. Watching my parents, who had chronic diseases, struggle to get the appropriate specialist care they needed for their conditions was very difficult.

“They had to drive an hour and a half for care and many times to visit medical specialists who often did not have the means of curing their health issues. Watching their struggles and the struggles of many families while working at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center definitely made me want to really understand how to improve the health care system for families like our own.”

Even in high school, Brooks thought a lot about positively influencing the world. He went to nearby Kenyon College to be close to home to his family after his mother passed and to prepare himself for law school. He earned a degree in neuroscience, an interest that, in part, grew from her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.

“I had never really understood what the nervous system was,” he said, “And I was blown away when I learned of the incredible things that it does. That’s what made me want to go to med school. Then I did a Master of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh, and then I wanted to do both,” he said.

Brooks said that learning about all the social determinants of health outcomes and how businesses significantly influence health care delivery has steered his educational path.

“Ultimately, health care delivery is largely dictated by laws that regulate health care entities and public health by policies that aren’t traditionally associated with health care, like access to food, housing, and transportation,” he said. “So, understanding public health and health law has revolutionized my understanding of medicine and paved the way for me to serve as a bridge between health care providers, attorneys, and administration in the health management and policy space.”

Brooks hopes to use this understanding to help the most marginalized populations attain health equity at the national and international levels. Upon graduating, Brooks will start his career at Boston Consulting Group, focusing on health care, life science, and social impact management consulting.

At Miami Law, the 3L is finishing a paper with Professor Gabriel Scheffler on harmonizing the regulation of and integration of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine. Brooks is a Steven Chaykin Fellow for the Health Equity Project at the Center for Ethics and Public Service, where he is helping to embed health equity into their affordable housing initiatives. He is also a fellow at the Human Rights Clinic, where he has played a leading role in the clinic’s work on maternal and infant health. Brooks has worked with his Human Rights Clinic colleagues this spring on a town hall for Miami-Dade County for the U.N. Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.

J.D./M.A. and J.D./LL.M.

Randy Fitzgerald is a force of nature, with a resume as impressive as his 6’3” stature and collection of bow ties. The third-year law student, with a concentration in litigation and dispute resolution, will also add a master’s in Latin American studies, building off his B.A. from the University of Miami, with four majors: economics, history, international studies, and political science. He even attended a joint summer program with the University of Oxford, where he studied political behavior surrounding Brexit. He is following up with a Tax LL.M. as he finishes his graduate thesis on Argentine judicial independence. “I saw the joint-degree program as a feasible opportunity to refine my Spanish language skills and enhance my competency for the needs of future clients.”

It seems contradictory that, from a young age, he was all about science. “I was accepted to the dual B.S./M.D. program with Miller Medicine and started undergrad here in an invited honors cohort for STEM research.” But he grew jealous of those around him studying social sciences and gave in to the feelings. “Medical school was always my goal; I would’ve been the first doctor in my family. Instead, I’ll be the first lawyer in my family.”

At Miami Law, Fitzgerald has been the Student Senate speaker, an admissions ambassador, and a member of the St. Thomas More Catholic Legal Society and OUTLaw, the LGBTQ+ student organization. He’s the very collaborative chapter president of the Federalist Society, where he co-hosts events with progressive student organizations like Environmental Law and American Constitution Societies. “We create spaces for ’Canes to respectfully engage with different perspectives. We must be able to disagree while remembering our common humanity. It starts with listening; there’s more that unites than divides us,” he said.

Never wasting an opportunity, Fitzgerald, an Eagle Scout, has worked or interned in all three branches of the federal government, including in Washington, D.C., for Rep. María Salazar and the White House in the Executive Office of the President, and Miami’s federal and appellate judiciaries. He gained private sector exposure as a summer associate assisting with federal appeals at the maritime boutique firm Horr, Skipp & Perez. He was a civil rights fellow at the Center for Equal Opportunity, a D.C. think tank.

After finishing school, Fitzgerald plans to complete a judicial clerkship before entering the private sector to assist the legal needs of multinational businesses navigating the hemisphere’s markets. “All these work experiences were possible thanks to the amazing alumni network of the U. This school has changed the trajectory of my life for good,” he said. 


Gabriella Kayal has ’Canes legacy for miles. Among her family are 17 University of Miami grads holding 23 degrees, including her mother, a triple ’Cane, eight months pregnant with Gabriella when taking the Florida Bar Exam. Kayal is proud to be part of her multicultural Miami family, where her mother is Cuban American, and her father is Lebanese/Syrian American.

The 26-year-old is cutting her own trail through higher education and is scheduled to complete her joint J.D./M.B.A. Program in May 2024. Her focus on law and business is thoughtful and steeped in her personal interests and family legacy.

Kayal’s family owns a successful third-generation retail business; her parents are University of Miami-educated attorneys. “My undergraduate majors were Spanish and philosophy, with a minor in exercise physiology,” said Kayal. “So, even though I had no formal business education background, I grew up seeing and participating in almost every aspect of our family business. I decided that I would like to have a better understanding from an academic perspective to help me interact with business professionals in various environments.”

She spent her 2023 summer as a summer associate in New York at Paul Hastings LLP, a prestigious global law firm representing some of the world’s most successful and influential organizations and individuals.

“I wanted the experience of a traditional law student in Big Law for my 2L summer. I love Miami, so New York was not initially on my radar, but the opportunity to spend time in that professional environment was too important to pass up,” said Kayal.

“I loved it. I went in with an open mind and I loved it. I loved the city, the energy, and the firm itself was amazing, filled with so many smart, friendly, well-rounded people. I could envision that the environment will help me be the best version of myself,” she said.

Kayal accepted a full-time position at Paul Hastings and will start in October 2024.

While at Miami Law and the Miami Herbert Business School, Kayal participated in the De Paul University College of Law Madrid Summer Program, where she completed courses in European business and commercial law and European human rights law held at Universidad Pontificia Comillas. She was also a research assistant at Miami Law’s Center for Ethics and Public Service, where she worked on a redistricting effort for the West Coconut Grove Community, and was a team leader at the University's Global Business Consulting program.

Kayal is excited for the future, and thankful and appreciative to the University of Miami for helping build her foundation.

“Go ’Canes!”


Delaney Reynolds started out as a children’s book writer. A 10-year-old children’s book writer.

She grew up between homes in Miami and the Florida Keys and drew inspiration from her love affair with the ocean and nature.

“We were constantly fishing, snorkeling, diving, you name it,” she said, “and in between elementary and middle school, I wrote some books about ecology topics based on the Florida Keys. That is how I learned about climate change.”

Today, the joint J.D./Ph.D. student from the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy runs her personal nonprofit, Sink or Swim, to engage the generations who will inherit sea level rise and work together to solve it. She has given a TED talk, addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations, and has written laws that have been implemented.

Reynolds realized early on that she needed to learn about climate change in her primary school education. “I am thinking, ‘There is some scary stuff that I’m reading, maybe I should learn more.’ And I decided to write my fourth book on sea level rise. And that’s how I started to interview scientists and read the science.”

In her spare time, Reynolds has appeared on National Geographic Channel’s Years of Living Dangerously with explorer Philippe Cousteau of Xploration Awesome Planet and done a townhall with former Vice President Al Gore on MTV’s “An Inconvenient Special.”

Reynolds, 24, holds a B.S. from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science. There she double majored in marine science and coastal geology and, during that time, was the lead plaintiff in a suit that argued that the then governor was not protecting Floridians from climate-driven sea level rise and that his energy policies were making climate change worse.

“I always knew that I wanted to pursue obtaining a Ph.D., but the closer I got to applying for graduate school, and the more I thought about what I wanted my thesis to explore, I realized that it is, at this moment in time, impossible to explore climate change solutions without policy,” she said.

After her May graduation, Reynolds will complete her Ph.D., focusing on the viability of climate change solutions in South Florida and political involvement/prioritization in solution implementation. She would love to become a professor to continue to conduct research and follow her true passion: working alongside youth and future generations who ultimately will solve the climate crisis.

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