College at VSU
Reginald F. Lewis entered Virginia State University in 1961 on a football scholarship. An injury cut short his football career and he focused on school and work. One of the jobs was as a photographer’s sales assistant. He generated so much business that he was offered a partnership. Reginald declined because he had bigger things in mind for the future. A handwritten schedule that he kept says: “To be a good lawyer, one must study HARD.” And he did, graduating on the dean’s list his senior year.
Onward to Harvard Law
In 1965, the Rockefeller Foundation funded a summer school program at Harvard Law School to introduce a select number of black students to legal studies. Reginald lobbied for his acceptance and got in. He made such an impression that Lewis was invited to attend Harvard Law School that fall — the only person in the 148-year history of the school to be admitted before applying. During his third year at Harvard Law, Lewis discovered the direction his career would take as the result of a course on securities law. His senior year thesis on mergers and acquisitions received an honors grade.
“Those of us on the faculty who saw in him then the promise of greatness had no idea of the extraordinary achievements be was to attain.” -Frank Sander, Professor, Harvard Law School