Pre-Law Institute Breakfast Inspires Future Legal Professionals

Pre-Law Institute Breakfast Inspires Future Legal Professionals

Pre-Law Institute Breakfast Inspires Future Legal Professionals

“We are diversifying the bar, and with what is going on in the country today, it is critical to have a legal profession that represents the demographics of our country.”—President Karol V. Mason

On November 13, the Pre-Law Institute (PLI) held a benefit breakfast offering students the opportunity to network with legal professionals and learn more about their respective fields. As an institution with a diverse student body, PLI understands the importance of preparing John Jay students to successfully enter the legal profession. “For those of you who don’t understand why our students are so important, 47% of our students are the first in their families to go to college. The majority come from households with incomes of $30,000 or less,” said President Karol V. Mason. “Because of PLI, we are number eight in the amount of minority applicants to law school. We are diversifying the bar, and with what is going on in the country today, it is critical to have a legal profession that represents the demographics of our country.”

(left to right) Elizabeth Broccoli, Associate Director of PLI and Center for Post-Graduate Opportunities; Rael Almonte, PLI Research Assistant; Karol V. Mason, President of John Jay College; and Megil D. Patterson, PLI Student
(left to right) Elizabeth Broccoli, Associate Director of PLI and Center for Post-Graduate Opportunities; Rael Almonte, PLI Research Assistant; Karol V. Mason, President of John Jay College; and Megil D. Patterson, PLI Student 

“We need to remind students to use their situation as fuel for their progress.”— Charles Robert Davidson

Echoing President Mason’s remarks, Charles Robert Davidson, Director of the Pre-Law Institute and Center for Post-Graduate Opportunities, encouraged legal professionals to remind students to see their disadvantage as an advantage. “It is true that our students are mostly first generation college graduates. It is true that our students come from households with incomes of $30,000 or less. It is true that our students come from some of the most underserved neighborhoods in New York City,” said Davidson. “All that is absolutely true, but what we are trying to instill in them, is that this is not their liability, it’s their asset. We need to remind students to use their situation as fuel for their progress.”

Brenneis Nesbitt
Brenneis Nesbitt

“Because I have a criminal record, I was concerned about having the opportunity to become a criminal defense attorney. I was introduced to Dr. Davidson and where I saw my criminal history as a hindrance to my progress, he saw it as inspiration.”— Brenneis Nesbitt, ’19

Knowing how it feels to see their background as a setback, Brenneis Nesbitt (’19) offered students some words of encouragement and hope. “Because I have a criminal record, I was concerned about having the opportunity to become a criminal defense attorney,” said Nesbitt. “I was introduced to Dr. Davidson and where I saw my criminal history as a hindrance to my progress, he saw it as inspiration. He advised me to focus on my grades, prepare for my LSATs and that he would take care of the rest. Because of his support, I am currently a Pinkerton fellow and have interned at the Innocence Project.” Inspired and grateful for all the support they’ve received, we spoke with two PLI students and a PLI alumnus and asked them, What does the PLI mean to you? 

 

Megil D. PattersonMegil D. Patterson, ’19
Major: Humanities and Justice

PLI means hope, inspiration, and direction. I want to go to law school and become a criminal court judge who advocates for the use of non-incarceration programs instead of prisons. PLI makes me believe that these goals are possible, especially through talking with Dr. Davidson and Professor Beckett. Having these two influential role models steer me towards my dream means a lot. Without them, I wouldn't be heading in the direction that I am today.”

 

 

Shanel CapellanShanel Capellan, ’19
Majors: Criminal Justice and Philosophy

“PLI has opened so many doors for me. When I first came into John Jay I didn't know anything about law school. Coming to Dr. Davidson and Elizabeth Broccoli was a huge help. They are the best mentors that I could have asked for. They have always advised me to be proud of myself and encouraged me to reach out to them if I ever needed to speak to anyone about my academic or personal life. I want to be a civil lawyer and hopefully own a law firm. PLI has given me the opportunity to do this by allowing me to join them and providing me with great advice.”

 

Rael AlmonteRael Almonte, ’18
Major: Political Science

“While I was at John Jay, PLI did a lot for me. Dr. Davidson and Elton Beckett for example, advised me on what trajectory I should go on and cleared up misconceptions I had about funding and what I would study. I want to be an economist for the World Bank. I wouldn't have the passion for international development if it weren't for Dr. Davidson and Elton Beckett. They taught me that when people think of human rights for example, they usually think about torture or the violation of these rights, but there is another side which is economic human rights. International development is how we bring justice to people who have been oppressed in a global sense, and I think it is important work that should be done. It's leveling the playing field. It's not about putting somebody above or below, it's about giving everyone the same opportunities to achieve success, in the same why PLI did for me.” 

Watch the Pre-Law Institute Benefit Breakfast event.

Donate to John Jay’s Pre-Law Institute