A History of Advocacy
I learned about advocacy during an internship in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It was the second week of my internship; I was sitting next to Mrs. C as she showed me the next few clients on her list that we were to meet that day. Mrs. C was the probation officer that I had the pleasure to shadow for the summer. It was apparent that every person who walked into her office had something to lose - his or her freedom. That day, I met a young woman who had been on probation since the age of 15, and who at the age of 25 still couldn’t find her way out. She had grown up in an abusive home and had entered the system as a “runaway.”
This was a woman who was raised in my neighborhood − but we were so different. She turned to the streets and to drugs to escape from her reality, whereas I turned to education and hope to escape from mine. I discovered the young woman’s mother and sister were also on probation, her brother was in jail, and her abusive father was now deceased. I could see the helplessness and weariness in her eyes.
“I take two steps forward just to take five steps back. It never fails. Even when I try, it doesn’t seem to matter, because I always end up back here.” The young lady said this as she pointed over at Mrs. C.
I could hear the frustration in her voice and a sense of empathy filled my heart.
When Mrs. C left the room briefly, she turned to me and said: “I hope you don’t want to become one of these POs. They don’t care and they cannot wait for you to violate your probation. You know, it’s just one less person on their roster to worry about. I’ve been in the system so long it feels like there is no getting out. And to think it all started with me running from abuse,” she chuckled. “Being punished for being punished - go figure,” she added, with a hint of anger in her voice.
That conversation has been vivid in my mind until this day. That summer, I met 15 individuals whose lives I helped changed. I would like to think that the casual conversations we had and constant words of encouragement had an effect on them. Perhaps, while sharing their life stories with a complete stranger who could have been their daughter or little sister, they could see that change was on the horizon. Perhaps there was hope of recapturing their lives from the system that had swallowed them whole for years, and in some cases for decades. It was that conversation that solidified my desire to become an attorney, to advocate for people before they got to this part of the system.
As Black woman born and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut, my crime-filled neighborhood and the fact that I did not have the educational opportunities available in neighboring cities did not keep me from pursuing my dream of becoming an attorney. Since high school, I knew I was destined to be a lawyer no matter which path I travelled to get there or how long it took to achieve. I attended Norwalk Community College and ultimately graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice on a full-time schedule while working a full-time job as an assistant manager. I made it through law school and finally achieved my dream of becoming an attorney.
As an attorney, I will zealously advocate for each and every one of my clients with true empathy. Because I know what it is like to feel as if you are not heard. Or to be judged because of where you come from or by the mistakes you’ve made in life. As your attorney, I will fight for you until your voice is finally heard.
During the times I am not fighting for clients, I enjoy painting and spending time with my family and friends.