Liberal Arts (Law Pre-Grad Intern) Junior Augustina Okeke

Augustina OkekeThe definition of an internship is an opportunity to integrate career related experience into an undergraduate education by participating in planned, supervised work. With that said, the value of the IE pre-graduate internship to this extent and this caliber is that it can give students a dimension to their professional preparation not possible in the usual classroom. It is one thing to learn a trade or skill by self- research and practice but to acquire the proficiency in a specified area requires hands on experience and guidance. Through this internship I was given the opportunity to participate in a career related field, become actively aware of current issues in law, meet professionals who can be utilized as future networking contacts, and develop self-confidence as I identified my own skills and strengths through this mentorship. Hence after, I'm able to evaluate and reflect upon a career field, law, in which I'm interested in due to this valuable experience that allowed me to gain firsthand knowledge. Thus far as I come to the end of the semester I can say that I achieved some of my expectations that I had at the beginning of the semester that I wanted to get accomplished through the internship program. Throughout the semester, I was able to attend some classes, have one-one-one dialogue with some UT African-American law students for first hand perspectives, attend an amazing banquet hosted by the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society, and a Chicano/Hispanic Law Students' Association meeting.

One of the requirements for the program especially for members of Student Leaders Pursuing Law who undergo the IE program through that organization is to attend classes at the law school. One of the two classes that I attended was with Professor Patrick Woolley who lectures the Constitution Law II: Race and Constitution class which basically focuses on the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. For me this class was truly inspiring and influential considering Professor Woolley is an African-American professor who is a double ivy attending both Yale and Stanford and to see a man who looked like me in his position was inspirational. Nevertheless, not only was I moved by Professor Woolley's stature but the class itself was very interesting and targeted everyday issues that African-Americans face both past and present that are indirectly protected by the law. Professor Woolley touched areas ranging from slavery to reconstruction in areas like school segregation and anti-discrimination norms. As I witness such efforts made by Woolley to target areas that are directed toward a certain ethnicity or racialized group at a predominately white campus, I admired his courageousness because even as an underguate I do not have many classes where not only do I not see someone who resembles me but speaks on issues that I can personally relate as a black woman. I can definitely say, from that class

I can leave with a new vision, a new yearning, and a new hope. In addition, I also attend a Wills and Estates class where it covered wills, trusts, property estates, and federal powers of appointment in relation to how the law plays a major role in determining distribution and legal rights of property. This class was not what I imagined it to be like but nonetheless it was a learning experience in which in a sense I felt familiar with the topic because I work at a property tax law firm. During the lecture, he used several terms and phrases that I was familiar with due to my position at the law firm, words such as gift taxes and undivided interest caught my attention due to the familiarity.

Outside of the classroom, I was able to attend the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society Banquet with my mentor where several prominent law firms and top law professors along with law students themselves. The banquet itself was amazing and I really enjoyed the atmosphere being surrounded around successful black lawyers and potentials as well as other minorities who were there to support this outstanding organization. While in attendance, I was able to meet Professor Sarah Buel who is a clinical professor at UT Law who has accomplished so many things in her career who gave me her card and invited me to attend some of her classes in the fall. I was really glad to have met her and to be given the opportunity to network and sit in some of her classes. However, the best part of the banquet would have to be the reception afterwards where I was able to dance and mingled with some of the law students themselves and get some of their opinions and perspectives about being a law student of color. While there, I was able to exchange numbers with some of them and still utilize them to this day. In fact, I loved Thurgood Marshall Legal Society so much that I created the idea of utilizing them as mentors in correlation with my organization Student Leaders Pursuing Law, where we could co-sponsor programs together considering we are both minority organizations in efforts of bridging the gap between undergraduate students and law students. In addition to TMLS, I also look forward to working with CHLSA in efforts of creating a relationship that stems of a mentorship.

This pre-graduate internship experience has correlated with so many things that I already have going on presently in my life as far as my job at Perdue Brandon Law Firm and my organization Student Leaders Pursuing Law and has being a supplemental element of the two. I went into program aware of many things about law school but until this opportunity could never really say I knew what it was like to attend a class at law school or knew what it was like to function as a part of the law school-I couldn't.

However, now had been given this opportunity, I acquired much more than what I could get from my job at the firm or even SLPL, I've been given experience in which is an untangible facet. What I've gained the most from this experience is confidence and confirmation that law school is definitely something that I want to pursue and with that said, I will use this internship as my motivation. Based off of what I've learned from this program, I feel like I have the determination and heart to carry out the ideals and expectations of a law student and I'm headed on the path to becoming a hopeful young lawyer.