Justice & Law
April 8th, 2019 | The sad time has come for me to write my last blog post of the semester. Since my birthday, I have been to the Newseum, visited the Supreme Court for a second time, interacted and took a picture with a SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, interacted with two of the Justice’s clerks, spoke with a formerly incarcerated person, spoke and had lunch with an innocent formerly incarcerated person, and went to the zoo. Spring has sprung and some of the (warm outdoor) fun has just begun!
The Newseum is truly fantastic! I loved it! It’s a popular museum here in the District with many great reviews by majority of those who visit. They have a wonderful exhibition on the 9/11 attacks, featuring pieces of what was left behind on display, as well as a heart touching video from reports on the day of the events. They have an exhibition on the LGBTQ+ movement, including information about Stonewall, and a lovely wall of terms and definitions! (If you didn’t know, outing means “exposing someone’s sexual orientation without their permission.” Never ever do this!)
In my Criminology and Justice seminar class, we had the opportunity to speak with Sean Thompson-El, the husband of LaShonia Thompson-El, who is well-known in Washington, DC communities for being the founder of the W.I.R.E. (Women Involved In Reentry Efforts). Our talk centered around the couple’s work with various reentry efforts. It was interesting to have a meaningful conversation about incarceration, race, and reentry.
In my Public Law and Society seminar class, led by Professor Fabrikant, we visited the Supreme Court to speak with Supreme Court Justice clerks and attend one of the courtroom lectures. My class went alongside with Professor Semiatin's American Politics class. United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer came impromptu with two of his clerks! It was such a pleasant surprise to hear him speak to us, answer some class questions, and even pose for a picture. It truly was awesome!
A man named Shujaa Graham came to speak with my class along with his wife, Phyllis. Shujaa served time in prison for a crime when he was young. He was then falsely arrested for another more serious crime which resulted in him being sentenced to death. Hearing him speak was incredible and he truly has a remarkable story. I was lucky to be one of the four students in my class to then attend lunch with him, his wife, and our professor (big shout out to our professor for organizing and paying for lunch).
I then enjoyed the beautiful weather over the weekend by going to the zoo. I saw lions, turtles, foxes, pandas, and so much more!
Time really goes by so fast, but I am thankful for everything I have experienced from the good, to the bad, and everything in between. While I still have one more month left here, I must say that I have enjoyed my overall Washington Semester Program experience in DC. I put myself out there a little bit more, was proactive in finding things I wanted to do, and made the most of everything. It has been real! My journey still continues…
Justice & Law
March 25th, 2019 | We are about 2/3 through the semester and time is just passing us by. It is starting to hit home more that I will be leaving the District soon and graduating college, and boy, it is very bittersweet to think about. Within the last couple weeks, I have celebrated birthdays, tried new food, relaxed on spring break, and was featured on Instagram for my Instagram takeover week!
Before spring break, I went to a cute little restaurant for Asian food for a friend’s birthday. We also explored some weekday Washington D.C. nightlife. D.C. nightlife has events going on every single day of the week. It is a great way to explore and meet new people.
Even though spring break was coming up, I went home to celebrate two more birthdays with people very near and dear to my heart. I went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and around New Jersey. It was my first time back home since I began the Washington Semester Program. It was an enjoyable weekend away, to see some family and friends at home and at my home school.
Since the halfway mark of the semester has come, March has been filled with a lot of midterm exams, internship midterm reports, and of course, spring break planning. I completed two midterms for my two seminar classes. I also had to complete a midterm self-evaluation of my internship, and submit an assignment based on my internship experiences thus far. My internship supervisor was also responsible for completing an evaluation of my internship performance as well. It was great to receive an email from my WSP professor who stated I received great feedback from her!
At last, spring break finally arrived…and went. It was a nice but quick week. I went home, babysat my niece, and celebrated my birthday! (My WSP professor even wished me a happy birthday!) It was a nice time at home with family and friends. I also visited my home school, Rider University, for the second time since I left in December. After spring break’s conclusion, I came back to the District, continued celebrating my birthday, and even celebrated another friend’s birthday. It has been a pleasure to meet so many great people from the WSP and even the DMV as a whole. The journey continues…
Justice & Law
March 13th, 2019 | This semester continues to blow me away with the various experiences and people I have encountered. Over the last couple weeks, I have been roller skating in Maryland, visited the Supreme Court of the United States, went on a police ride along, seen Army soldiers train around AU’s campus, and attended an Atlantic event regarding incarceration in America. I am enjoying my last semester of my undergraduate career being in a different space and making memories that will last a lifetime.
On Tuesday, February 19th, I attended oral arguments at the Supreme Court of the United States. Some of my Public Law and Society seminar classmates and I did not even know the journey we would embark on that day. It started with us waiting in line in the freezing cold from 5am until after 7:30am. After 7:30am, everyone in line had to line up in order and receive numbers. Only about fifty of the general public can enter the courtroom. Finally at around 7:45am, we entered the Supreme Court building. (I can still feel my body aching in pain from finally thawing out!) The cafeteria was the only thing open at that time so we were able to go in there. The arguments started at 10am and I made it into the courtroom shortly before that time. SCOTUS is no joke so there was a lot of waiting, security, and everything else in between but let me tell you, making it to the Supreme Court for the first time was a surreal feeling. All nine Supreme Court Justices were present so it was an honor to be in the same room as them all. There was an introduction of the various attorneys present, the oral arguments with two attorneys involving the postal service for about an hour, and then the ability to tour the museum type exhibits on the main level. This was a super cool experience.
Continuing my long day, I went on a police ride along that same evening. I went to Southwest DC in the 1st District. The job of a police officer is challenging because you never know what to expect. For us, it was a rather calm day but in Southeast for example, not so much. I was told that there were six homicides that day alone over there. My police ride along experience was super interesting. I was able to stand alongside the officer and interact with the community. We responded to family complaints, a minor car accident, petty convenient store theft, and even got food from CAVA (shoutout to Officer G.R. for buying dinner with his half off officer perks). It was a pleasure to ride along with the police officer for four hours, which went by rather fast. He was authentic, transparent, and very kind. Although I did this for an assignment, I will surely like to embark on a ride along again!
Most recently, this past week, I attended an event entitled “& Justice For All: The Impact of Incarceration In America” put on by The Atlantic and made possible by fwd.us. This event was just awesome. There were five “panels” featuring various speakers being led in discussion by people from The Atlantic and fwd.us. They were honest and sincere, speaking on their personal experiences. The overall conversation was truly inspiring and thought-provoking. It was encouraging to see that although this country has a lot more progress to make, these small wins that people have faced will lead to an even greater victory in the end.
We have officially reached the halfway mark of the semester and time is really flying! Midterms have arrived and spring break is upon us. Then the journey continues…
Justice & Law
February 25, 2019 | Time flies when you are having fun! I have already passed the one month mark of being here. It has been over a month of new memories, experiences, and adventures. It is still so exciting yet also more nerve-wracking.
I am getting more acclimated at my internship at Community Family Life Services. Being new in the office makes me more reserved and observant of the atmosphere and culture at the non-profit organization that I intern for. The organization provides services to women released from incarceration, trying to reintegrate back into society, as well as those who have dealt with domestic violence. In addition, men are served as well. There are a variety of services such as providing diapers, HIV tests, food, and womens’ and mens’ clothing.
I am learning how to balance being an independent worker but also leaning on my supervisor when I need more instruction. I am responsible for mainly helping to plan two upcoming events and conducting outreach to other organizations who may want to collaborate with us. I attend various meetings and just try to assist wherever possible. The office vibe is pretty relaxed. Most people work in their offices with the doors open, occasionally walking around and interacting with one another throughout the day. Clients typically come in for food, clothing, and computer lab services on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays so some Mondays and Fridays may be quieter days, but not always. CFLS is an amazing organization doing many great things for a lot of families in need.
Washington D.C. is like museum galore! I visited the National Museum of American History and the National Law Enforcement Museum both for Washington Semester Program seminars. On Tuesday, February 12th, my seminar class had the option to choose from a couple museums or memorials and I chose the NMAH for my site visit for the day. The museum was cool but not the most particularly interesting to me overall. I definitely liked certain exhibits such as the one about the food industry, automobiles, immigration, and money. It is very funny because I expected the museum to feature a lot about other cultures. After all, there is no real “American culture” in my opinion. Many major American history influences come from other countries blended together and it was cool to see that. As seen in my picture, The Mexican Food Revolution is one example of how foods like tacos, Tex-Mex, and frozen margaritas have integrated into mainstream American menus. The museum was fascinating, not my favorite, but still wonderfully put together nonetheless.
On Friday, February 15th, my seminar class visited the National Law Enforcement Museum which is a smaller private museum in Judiciary Square. Being that I plan to pursue careers within law enforcement, I was particularly intrigued in this museum prior to attending. The museum was smaller and definitely glorified the police profession. The museum is also still very new, having only been open for a few months.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a discussion featuring Fox and Rob Rich, a couple whose family overcame obstacles after incarceration. Mr. Robert Richardson (Rob Rich) was sentenced to 60 years in prison after robbing a bank. He served 21 years and 4 days and was released over 120 days ago. His wife, Sibel Fox Richardson (Fox Rich) also briefly served some time in connection to the crime. Their story was remarkable to hear. It was interesting to hear many aspects of their story that were particularly fascinating because I have previous internship experience with parole and state police, and I am someone who always tries to understand both sides of such situations. Some people just make terrible decisions but can still move on from those mistakes. Our system also needs to do better with giving punishments that fit the crime regardless of gender, race, or any other irrelevant factors.
I have continued to explore D.C. by checking out more nightlife and various restaurants. I am enjoying my time here and want to continue making the best of it. The journey continues!
Justice & Law
February 13th, 2019 | My semester in Washington, D.C. is finally here! Considering I was born and raised in New Jersey, I have been extremely anxious and excited to get out of state for some time. Coming to the District of Colombia has been overwhelmingly full of ups, downs, and everything in between. I have been ready to embrace the culture, food, and even the lovely public transportation system. (The DMV metro systems and New Jersey Transit are much more different than what I expected!) And so my semester has officially begun…
D.C. is a great place to explore (and of course spend a lot of money) with its endless restaurants, nightlife, and museums. Unfortunately, due to the government’s partial federal shutdown, the Smithsonian museums were closed. Luckily enough, the government has been reopened for the next couple weeks so my excitement to explore the museums has intensified. Being of age is also great here because I am able to enjoy the D.C. nightlife. There is a plethora of things to do.
On Saturday, January 19th, 2019, the 2019 Women’s March took place in downtown D.C. around Freedom Plaza near the White House. It was incredible! I was in awe to experience such a great march for a great cause that I support. There were thousands of people from all ages and backgrounds there for the cause — and even the various protestors came out too. I’ve never gone to any type of major protest or rally before so this was most definitely an event that I will remember for a lifetime. The creativity behind every sign, poster, etc. was truly amazing. There were a handful of vendors selling merchandise and an endless amount of baby Trump balloons (a couple were released and the crowd went crazy with laughter and applause as we watched them float up in the sky — pretty epic to say the least).
Just some days before the Women’s March, on January 15th I celebrated the 111th Founders’ Day of my illustrious sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. I visited Howard University, the campus where we were founded, at midnight to bring in the day with singing and picture taking with other sorority sisters. I went back to the campus a second time that day, later on, for more pictures with my fellow Rider University chapter sisters who came to celebrate the day together. A current Howard University student provided us with an impromptu tour of the campus including prominent areas significant to our sorority members. This was a happy Founders’ Day indeed.
As I have seen at the Women’s March, D.C. is an important political landmark with many passionate people, including protesters. As I explored downtown D.C. my first weekend here, while participating in the scavenger hunt, I encountered a variety of protestors in front of the White House. Two of the ladies (holding the banner next to me) were eager to interact with the crowd of people and take pictures. Although I am neither in support of or in opposition to what they were advocating for, I still took advantage of the photo op. I will definitely be doing more touristy things all semester long!
On Tuesday, January 29th, I visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture for one of my seminar classes and it was truly incredible. The design of the museum is amazing with an overwhelming amount to see. I was there for about three and a half hours but I still need another trip to go through everything that I did not yet see. From sections about Divine Nine Greek organizations (shoutout to my sorority), Oprah Winfrey, Emmett Till, segregation, slavery, and movements like Black Lives Matter, the museum has a vast range of what really makes up black history and culture. It was also heartwarming to be greeted by the director of the museum along with the press getting in on the action of their first visitors following the government reopening.
Although it has only been a few weeks, I’ve seen so much. It is still early in the semester and there is still so much left in store. I will be interning with a non-profit organization focused on providing reentry services to people released from and affected by incarceration and attending my Washington Semester Program seminars related to my Justice and Law concentration. I am excited yet nervous for everything else still to come! The journey has just begun!