Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern School of Law (CRRJ)
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Uchenna Nwodim

Liberal Arts Major(s): Political Science
Minor: African American Studies
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

What was the best part of your experience?

The best part of the experience was hearing the stories of people whose relatives were victims of racial violence in the Jim Crow south. Black people in the Jim Crow south were victims of different kinds of racial violence and never received any type of justice because of white supremacy. The victims' families were typically afraid to go to the authorities because they would receive backlash from the perpetrators, or, in some cases, the police were the perpetrators. Many of the families would sweep the racially-motivated crime under the rug, leave town, and move north. But because of the CRRJ, their stories are being brought to light and their trauma is just now being recognized.

I want to show the marginalized people in this country how the law can be a vehicle for change rather than a hindrance on their lives

How did this experience impact you academically?

Because this clinic is a part of a law school, I had the opportunity to audit law classes. This really helped me because I want to go to law school, and it was a good experience to discuss law school with the professors and the law school students. This experience helped shape my future academic trajectory. The class I took was on reproductive rights and law. This class was different than many of the courses I have taken at Penn State because the professor did not lecture at all, and the class led discussion on the case for the day. The class showed the legal loopholes that prevent women from having full access to reproductive facilities.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

Prior to this experience, I was unsure what kind of law I want to study. However, now I am interested in pursuing civil rights law. The work of the CRRJ with communities across America shows how impactful civil rights law can be for families. I want to show the marginalized people in this country how the law can be a vehicle for change rather than a hindrance on their lives.                 

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

Because of the Paterno Fellows Program, I was told about the College of the Liberal Arts enrichment funds which helped support me throughout the summer. Additionally, the writing skills I have learned in my honors classes gave me the confidence in my ability to communicate precisely when writing letters, essays, or presentations for my internship. 

For more information on internships for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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