“Lift as you climb.” As I embark on various endeavors and gain knowledge, skills, and experiences, I feel morally obligated to use the resources I have acquired to help others progress and succeed. Throughout my undergraduate education and law school, I have become keenly aware of the lack of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. Specifically, there is a shortage of African-American attorneys and few African Americans and minorities in leadership roles within firms, companies, and organizations nationwide. One way to address this issue is through opportunity and exposure.
Since 2015, I have created five educational programs for minority students. The majority of my programs were created and implemented for students in the Greater Philadelphia area. My latest initiative is the Teaching; Engaging; Achieving; Motivating program (T.E.A.M.), which I facilitated in Willingboro, New Jersey.
T.E.A.M. was launched in January 2019 for 50 middle schoolers in Willingboro, NJ. The 14-week program consisted of 60-minute sessions held on Friday mornings at Memorial Middle School. Students learned basic criminal law and criminal procedure including Miranda rights, police stops, and the role of race in police interactions. Students were challenged to think about themselves as active participants in the administration of justice by putting on a mock trial.
The T.E.A.M. program ended in April and I learned so many things about the students and myself: (1) from a teacher’s perspective, no matter how much you prepare for a lesson, you never know how much material you will get through in the classroom, (2) teaching is a two-way street with mutual and reciprocal benefits for students and teachers, (3) there is no such thing as perfect timing and there is no better person than you, don’t wait until tomorrow to use your talents and skills to impact the lives of other people.
As a native of Willingboro, New Jersey, and former Willingboro Public Schools student, I am forever indebted to my hometown community. I plan to expand the program in the future by incorporating transactional law topics, including other professions, and soliciting more program facilitators.