Every Tuesday in property law class, the scent of chlorine followed Dalton Sousa ’25 as he entered the room after a grueling workout in the pool. Sousa exhibited the same determination in swimming laps as he did in classes—because for him, lives were on the line.
Dalton Sousa ‘25, a former collegiate swimmer at Roger Williams University, with his parents
The lives of those battling cancer were on Sousa’s mind as he raced into the cold waters of Pleasure Bay in South Boston on Saturday, August 13, to raise funds for early-stage clinical trials in the development of new cancer treatments. Also on Sousa’s mind was his mother, who was diagnosed earlier this year with pancreatic cancer.
So far, his mother’s treatments have held her cancer at bay, and Sousa has raised more than $16,000 for Swim Across America Boston, with funds going to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Mass General Hospital for Children Cancer Center. While he remains focused on his legal studies— his mother tells him that’s her greatest wish—he is determined to do what he can to relieve the suffering. And that’s what keeps him swimming, even in 64-degree waters. “I figure I’m doing the easy part,” says Sousa who was a competitive swimmer at Roger Williams University before arriving at Cornell Law School.
At RWU, he was founder and president of Justice in Action Athletic Alliance, an organization dedicated to inclusion, advocacy, and education on social justice issues. He believes strongly that a law degree will allow him to achieve more equitable opportunities for Black and brown communities, and at Cornell, he is president of the Black Law Student’s Association.
Sousa’s determination to use his law degree to increase opportunities dovetails with his commitment to fighting cancer. He knows that Black communities have higher rates of cancer and less access to quality care or clinical trials. “These healthcare inequities need to be addressed,” he says, “and there’s no one better suited to hold those accountable than good lawyers.”