OUR PROGRAM'S IMPACT
Our Summer Program Graduates in the Long-Term
More than 700 young people have graduated from our Summer Legal Fellowship Program, and we remain in contact with approximately 70% of those from the past five years. As of September 2023, none of these youth has dropped out of high school. At least 92% have attended higher education. 20 that we know of have attended some type of graduate school. One has earned her PhD, nine have attended law school, and seven have become members of the California Bar.
Our summer program alumni work in many fields, including education, law, law enforcement, business, government administration, restorative justice, and social services. They also give back to the Center in many ways, such as teaching and mentoring new participants, and serving on the organization's leadership.
To see our film featuring in-depth student profiles, Change Is Possible, click here.
Profiles of a few of our inspiring students…
Kerby grew up in Richmond. No one in her family had gone to college. There were some deaths in her family during her high school years, and she struggled in school with a low GPA. She credits her participation in our summer program with giving her confidence, inspiration, and practical tools. After that, her grades improved. She said "This program helped me learn to make change in the world through law. It helped me realize I want to start my own law firm that specializes in pro bono or low fee services, restorative justice and civil rights. After that I will go into politics. Vote for me, Mayor!" She subsequently earned both her BA and her PhD in Geography from UC Berkeley, and currently works for Ceres Policy Research. She returns to the program regularly to tell her story and encourage activism among our new students.
Tatiana grew up in Oakland, and joined our program after her junior year in high school. Afterwards, she continued to volunteer with the program in various ways while pursuing her education. She received her B.A. from St. Mary's College in 2013, and now works as a Restorative Justice Coordinator at an Oakland public school, teaching students how to resolve conflicts peacefully and providing constructive alternatives to suspensions for students with behavioral challenges.
She recently expressed her appreciation: "Without my participation in the summer program, there is no way I could have made it to where I am today. You gave me a huge opportunity that served as a stepping stone for me to be in a place of success and giving back to my community that I am so proud to be in. Thank you so much for making a positive and meaningful difference in my life!"
Tatiana has now become an annual Restorative Justice instructor with our program, sharing her wisdom and inspiration with new students every year.
Kiera decided to participate in our program in 2013 after her junior year in high school, to earn money and gain work experience. She lives in Oakland, and lost her father to gun violence when she was three years old. In describing growing up, she said: "Growing up in Oakland, you have to know who you are and what you want out of life, or you may end up hanging with the wrong crowd and in trouble. I grew up in neighborhoods where crime, prostitution and death rates are a big factor. Somewhere between all of the negativity I found positivity within myself by deciding to not be a part of any of that." Her internship through the program was with her State Assemblymember, where she answered calls from constituents and assisted with street fairs and public relations. She explained that "This program has truly made a big impact on my life and has influenced me to be myself and reach for the best. It opened my mind to new things and ideas. The staff made us see how broad the world is." She described her goals as "completing high school, graduating from college, and giving back to my community in some way." After high school, she attended and graduated from Mills College with a degree in public health and pre-nursing, and later earned her Masters Degree in nursing. She currently works as a nurse in the Bay Area.
Dorian Peters participated in our program in 2000 and is now a Deputy Attorney General in the electronic crimes unit of the California Department of Justice. He recently served as the President of the Contra Costa County Bar Association. Here is his story:
"In high school, I had very little focus and motivation. My mother was going through tough times, forcing me to worry about basics such as having shelter and food. I had terrible grades and no plans to attend college.... I joined the Center for Youth Development through Law's program because I wanted a paid summer job. Little did I know, the program was much more than a summer job. My experience in the Summer Legal Fellowship Program was amazing. It motivated me to attend Diablo Valley College. I ultimately graduated from UC Berkeley and Vanderbilt Law School and am now a member of the California Bar, prosecuting electronic crime with the California Attorney General's Office.... I can say that I would not be where I am today had I not had the benefit of the program and the staff's continued support." – Dorian Peters, Esq.
Dorian gives back to the Program in many ways, including teaching and mentoring our new students, and serving on our Leadership Council.
Hao came to the United States when he was 10 years old. He had loved law ever since he was young because he found it interesting and liked that "everyone is equal in the law." He had dreams of possibly becoming a judge. He was demoralized when his mother told him "You can't be a judge -- you're not White." He tried to find ways to learn about law and lawyers, but found it was difficult to do. Still, he didn't give up on his dream. He jumped at the chance to participate in the Summer Legal Fellowship Program. He loved his internship in the Richmond City Manager's Office, where he made it a point to meet as many people involved with the City government as possible. He said that in his internship, he learned more about Richmond than he had by living there since he was 10. In a heartfelt speech at the program graduation ceremony, he said that he had struggled for a long time to find help in achieving his dreams, and the program had finally provided that. He said with pride that "I can now tell my mom that I can become a judge." He is now a graduate of UC Berkeley, preparing to pursue a legal career.