Kayla Byrd attended Monroe Traditional Alternative Middle School and Columbus Alternative High School. While at CAHS, Kayla was a member of the In The Know Team, an American Math Contest Participant, and received several academic awards. Kayla currently attends the University of Pennsylvania and intends to major in Actuarial Science. Kayla was accepted to 13 schools including Georgetown, Pomona College, Claremont McKenna, Northwestern, and Emory. During High School, Kayla was active as the Co-Chair for Stories Beyond Their Eyes - a human trafficking awareness group, Seniors to Sophomores – which means she has already completed her first year of college at Ohio State, National Honor Society, and the Baking Club.
Q: What do you think you might want to be your major and why?
A: I will be in the Wharton School of Business so my degree will be in economics. However, I will probably focus my studies specifically in the areas of statistics, actuarial science, and finance because I like mathematics.
Q: How did you ultimately decide that you wanted to attend this school?
A: It seems cliche but when I visited Penn for pre-freshmen week, it felt right. I knew that I wanted rigorous academics and city life at the same time. Penn was always a dream of mine and although it was academically the “best school I had gotten into,” I considered several important factors such as financial aid, job placement after graduation, quality of teachers, study abroad opportunities and ultimately, my fit on the campus! It also helped that my mom's side of the family lives on the East Coast.
Q: How would you describe your LLI experience?
A: My LLI experience wasn't easy. I never wanted to be a lawyer, so at times I lacked motivation to compete or do tasks to the best of my ability. However, I persevered despite my other academic endeavors. It was a learning experience! I appreciated the ACT test prep and despite the tedious reading assignments and vocabulary tests, the LLI experience taught me that sometimes I will have to do things that I don't want to and they will ultimately benefit me in the future. I couldn't stand dressing up every day. At first, it was weird to call people my age by their last names and to stand up to address the class. However, the LLI experience prepared me for a very successful professional future! I will be on time, display proper decorum, use table etiquette, and dress for success when I enter the workforce. Because of LLI, I now have a network of people who care and are always there to support me or give advice!
Q: How do you think that your experience with LLI has helped to prepare you for college?
A: I am organized now. I am able to take huge projects and break them up into smaller pieces. I am able to work well in groups. I am able to read long books and effectively take notes. I am able to talk to adults when I need help. Furthermore, the college tours really helped me narrow down what type of school that I was looking for. Even though I didn't choose an Ohio school, I knew that I wanted a big, private university in an urban area!
Q: What advice would you give to current LLI juniors and seniors who will soon be applying to college?
A: Start early on your college search. Find a mentor or someone who can help you along the way. Write a very strong essay. Take the ACT or SAT as many times as you can! Don't be stressed out! Let colleges know that you're interested by emailing or calling the admissions office. Stay in constant contact with your guidance counselor. Go on SEVERAL college visits and if you can't do that, then look online and thoroughly learn about the school. Apply to safety, target, and also reach schools. Apply for lots of scholarships and don't be afraid to ask colleges for more money. If money is a huge factor and you really are set on going to a school, do not let that hinder you! Lastly, don't let anyone else influence your college decision. Don't let your mom, your dad, or any friends push you into choosing a particular college. You need to be fully convinced that this place can be your home for the next four years!
And now a Q&A Session with LLI Program Director Rachel Wilson
As the Program Director of the Law and Leadership Institute, Rachel A. Wilson coordinates programming for LLI’s statewide pipelining program for high school students. Rachel was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and she attended college at the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, Rachel played Division I basketball and graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature and minor in Africana Studies. After college she joined Teach for America and taught 8th grade English for two years at Frederick Douglass Academy V in the Bronx, New York. Also during this time, Rachel earned her Master’s Degree in teaching at Pace University.
Shortly thereafter, Rachel attended the University of Michigan Law School where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Michigan Journal of Race & Law. After law school, Rachel served as the Assistant Director at the Association of American Law Schools in Washington D.C., where she worked on a host of matters including membership review, diversity recruitment and retention of law students and faculty, media relations, and higher education policy. In late 2013 Rachel moved to Columbus, Ohio where she currently serves as LLI's Program Director in order to merge her interests in secondary and higher education and to help further diversify higher education and the legal profession. Rachel currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Ohio Diversity Council.
Q: When did you graduate from your alma mater and what was your major?
A: I graduated from Penn in 2006. I majored in English Literature with a concentration in African American literature and minored in Africana Studies.
Q: How would you describe your experience at your alma mater?
A: I loved my time at Penn. Like Kayla, I knew that I wanted to go to Penn immediately. The fit seemed right. I first visited Penn as a competitor during the Penn Relays (arguably the best track and field competition in the whole world).
Q: Did you enjoy living in Philadelphia during college? Why or why not?
A: I love Philadelphia for its diversity, activities, food, and sports teams. There is always something to do. I used to run up the infamous “Rocky” steps of the Philadelphia Art museum which is only several miles from campus. I am a DC native and I liked that I was still pretty close to my family and they were only a train/bus/car ride away. The city is accessible by public transportation which was helpful, and the campus is very pedestrian-friendly.
Q: What advice would you give to current LLI Juniors and Seniors who are about to apply to college?
A: Really take the time to assess the type of school you want to attend. Is it important for you to be close to home? How much financial aid do you need? What do you think you might want to major in and why? What career path/s do you see yourself pursuing in the future? Are there student groups that you want to join? Will this school challenge me academically? Also, be aware of pending deadlines for the SAT, ACT, college applications (early action, early decision, regular decision.) Reach out to your recommenders as soon as possible. Re-read your personal statement and additional essays numerous times and ask others to read them too. Keep your LLI instructors and administrators aware of where you are in the application process. We are here to help you and support you! Don’t settle. Set the bar high for yourself!
Q: What were your favorite things to do on campus?
A: I enjoyed going to the Penn Relays and playing in basketball games at The Palestra, one of the greatest gyms in America. I also enjoyed eating lunch at Houston Hall since they had a variety of options including, sushi and crepes. I enjoyed rehearsing with my friends as a part of The Inspiration a cappella group and singing with the New Spirit of Penn Gospel Choir. I also liked watching performances by African Rhythms, The Excelano Project (spoken work group), and Destination Hip Hop.
Q: What are the top three restaurants on or near campus?
A: Pattaya Restaurant has really great Thai food. I also really liked the Philly Diner (best milkshakes on campus). Ms. Tootsie’s restaurant serves the best soul food in all of Philadelphia!
Q: How do you think that the LLI experience will prepare our recent alums for college?
A: The LLI experience will help students with their writing, public speaking, and analytical skills. LLI students spend four years drafting and editing countless essays, and they spend even more time reading and analyzing criminal and civil cases. Our LLI students are law-trained and they possess the ability to read and digest complex issues and to think of potential challenges and solutions. Also, due to their experience interning with law offices, and with interacting with speakers and other attorneys, LLI students will understand the importance of timeliness, professionalism, hard work, dedication, and diligence.
Animated by what she calls the “privilege of being able to be of service to others,” Robyn Traywick went to law school to help children, especially those with disabilities and special challenges. When still only a few years out of law school, Robyn helped an Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education (during the administration of President George W. Bush) set objective goals and measurements to gauge the success of national programs that help children with disabilities to progress. Recognized as an expert in the field, Robyn testified before Congress in support of bipartisan legislation to help children with disabilities. She also helped to organize a nonprofit in Maryland to work on these issues and is active as a volunteer in Ohio, serving, for example, on the statewide board of the ACLU with a focus on issues of child restraints.
In her own legal practice, Robyn represents about 300 young people at any given time. Using both her legal and nursing backgrounds, Robyn helps children who have been abused or are dealing with challenges because of disabilities. Constantly pursuing ways to improve the effectiveness of her work, she has trained her dog as a “therapy dog,” who accompanies her when she interviews children who might otherwise be uncomfortable, including at hospitals, nursing homes, and courts. A significant portion of Robyn’s practice is pro bono.
One recent volunteer activity illustrates Robyn’s dedication and her commitment to excellence. Robyn learned from a law student intern in her office that the University of Dayton School of Law hosts the Law and Leadership Institute (LLI), an educational enrichment program for high school students from under-served communities. Robyn called and volunteered. She then devoted Saturday afternoons from October 2013 to January 2014 to coaching a group of LLI students, mostly 14-year-olds, who wanted to compete in a statewide mock trial competition. As the first in her family to graduate from college, Robyn understood how it would help these young people if they could do well in the competition and realize that they had great potential to succeed in a profession such as law.
Professor Maureen Anderson, who heads the Dayton LLI program, singled out Robyn for the excellence of her contributions. “Some volunteers cancel occasionally, when the winter weather is nasty or practice is especially demanding, but Robyn never missed a Saturday afternoon because she saw the LLI students’ potential.” Anderson recalled that one of Robyn’s mentees was in and out of foster care but managed to take several busses, a trip of over an hour and a half each way, to attend the coaching sessions, and arrived with a positive attitude and devotion to the task. Robyn explained that she could not imagine letting this student down.
In advance of working on the competition problem, Robyn created a number of trial scenarios to help the students learn how to read fact patterns and discern what was most pertinent, a skill that helped them in the competition and will serve them well in future endeavors. Giving the students a broader view of the legal profession than just trials, Robyn also pointed out that the issues being tried could have best been handled in person and at the earliest point in the dispute. Robyn has already signed on to commit another 40-50 hours to coach LLI students this year, and has recruited other attorneys to help.
Thank you, Robyn, for your dedicated support of LLI!
Emily Beach is a native of Bexley, Ohio. After graduating from The Ohio State University magna cum laude with honors in Classical Humanities and French Language and Literature, she attended The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law where she worked as a Law and Leadership Institute Instructor and served as Symposium Editor for the Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution. Her note, “Nudging Testators Toward Holistic Estate Planning: Overcoming Social Squeamishness on the Subjects of Money and Mortality,” was published by the journal in 2011. After law school, Emily decided to pursue her passion for teaching by joining Teach for America, completing her service at West Tallahatchie High School in Sumner, Mississippi, where she continues to instruct students in English and French and chairs the English Language Arts Department. LLI still holds a special place in her heart, and she returned to Ohio to teach the eleventh grade class this summer.
Q: Why did you decide to teach for LLI in 2009?
A: I applied for so many jobs during my 1L year, but LLI was the first position I felt excited about. I have always had a passion for education, and, in fact, went into law school intending to do something in education with the degree. It was a little scary to reject an offer to work at a law firm in favor of a non-traditional job, but I went with my heart.
Q: What are some of your favorite memories as an LLI Instructor as a law student at OSU?
A: I taught the first class of LLI students, and they were a special group. It was a very small class and the students were all very good friends, so we had a lot of fun. I vividly remember one group of students writing and performing raps on the subject of wills. Our final project (other than firm internships) was a proposal for a trip to Washington, D.C., and students worked incredibly hard to turn in a very polished final product.
Q: How did you decide that you wanted to pursue teaching after law school?
A: Working with the LLI program really made me realize how much I love to teach; it's where my heart is. I wanted to continue to provide educational opportunities for children similar to those available through LLI, and I felt called to be in the classroom for at least a few years. Again, it was a scary choice, and definitely not an expected one for law students, but I am glad I pursued this path.
Q: In your opinion, why is LLI a great program for students throughout Ohio?
A: Apart from the opportunities it provides for students to work in law firms, meet legal professionals, participate in activities like mock trial, and visit colleges, it is such a wonderful opportunity to engage with other high-level, academically-minded students. High school can sometimes feel like a wasteland for students with academic ambitions, but spending time with other high achievers pushes teens to new levels academically and bonds them socially.
Q: What advice would you give to prospective LLI parents, and students? What advice would you give to current LLI students?
A: Take advantage of your time! Every day you spend at the Institute provides you with so much practice in the skills you will need for college. The more work you put in, the more you will benefit.
Without the local support of organizations like the Toledo Bar Foundation the Law and Leadership Institute simply could not carry out its mission - using the law as a vehicle to provide intensive academic preparation to underserved high school students. LLI was thrilled to receive notice of a $10,000 grant from the Toledo Bar Foundation in support of LLI Toledo. These dollars evidence the Toledo legal community’s commitment to all members of the community and will serve students determined to create a new future for themselves.
With this grant LLI Toledo will continue to give promising young people from underserved communities a boost in writing, analytical skills, study habits, oral presentation skills, college counseling and testing help. Without a doubt, this program increases their chances to not only go to but to succeed in college and beyond.
The evidence thus far from Toledo certainly demonstrates what can be accomplished because of this type of generous gesture. After approximately 700 hours of tuition-free training, all 27 of the 2013 and 2014 Toledo LLI graduates were admitted to colleges such as The Ohio State University, the University of Toledo, the University of Michigan, BGSU, Eastern Michigan, Loyola (Chicago), and Owens. This is an amazing result considering roughly 1/3 of students from underserved areas drop out of high school and do not attend college.
Without the financial support and volunteer efforts in the community, this outcome would not have occurred. On behalf of our students in Toledo and around the State we say THANK YOU to the Toledo Bar Foundation and the entire Toledo legal community.
The Ohio State University Alumni Council selected LLI CEO and Board President Steven W. Jemison from among a half million living alumni to receive its 2014 Dan L. Heinlen Award.
At the September 12 ceremony, the OSU Alumni Association Chair noted that Jemison spent most of his career at Procter & Gamble, retiring as P & G’s Chief Legal Officer. Despite a demanding career that involved living in Europe for a period and supervising sometimes hundreds of P & G attorneys, Jemison found time to serve his law school, and also volunteered as a member of the boards of LLI, the Cincinnati food bank, Dress for Success, the Visiting Nurse Association, and the Cincinnati Parks Foundation. When he retired, Jemison’s P & G colleagues immediately began an effort to honor him by endowing a scholarship in his name at OSU’s Moritz College of Law.
After his retirement, the LLI Board persuaded Jemison to become LLI’s CEO. Jemison agreed to do so but declined any compensation.
OSU Law Dean Alan Michaels said, “No individual could represent the values of professionalism better than Steve Jemison. His lifetime of extraordinary service and dedication to the practice of law continues to inspire others to make a difference through their own legal careers.”
Toledo’s LLI Site Leadership Project was donating items to the American Red Cross organization. This is the first year LLI students have participated in this project. In addition to donating items, they wrote letters to the service men & women that are deployed in Afghanistan.
Patricia Crawford, who is the Disaster Specialist & Project Manager for the local chapter of the American Red Cross, came to speak to the students on July 10. She told them about the Red Cross’s mission, which is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. Mrs. Crawford also gave the students tips on emergency preparedness.
The students collected a variety of items such as: toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and other hygiene items and they donated canned foods to fill up military deployment boxes. These boxes are essentially care packages for the soldiers to remind them of how much we appreciate their service to our country.
Brittany Nicole Jones is the youngest of nine children and is from Dayton, Ohio. She started in the LLI program in the summer of 2009 as a high school sophomore. In addition to participating in the LLI program, she was on Dayton Dunbar’s football and track and field teams, was a member of the Dayton NAACP, and competed in ACT-SO where she won local gold medals in oratory and entrepreneurship and went on to compete nationally in Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Houston. She also worked as a waitress and volunteered at her local Boys and Girls Club as an after- school homework tutor.
After graduating from the University of Dayton LLI Program and from the Dayton Early College Academy in 2012, she went to Cedarville University on a scholarship. Ms. Jones is currently a junior majoring in sociology with a minor in political science. While at Cedarville, she has been a part of OneVoice Gospel Choir, a member of the university’s Legal Society, and a member of VISION, a group of minority college students who work with the school’s admissions office to target more students of color to be a part of the Cedarville family. In addition, she serves as the Student Liaison to Diversity Student Programming, where she works alongside the Director of Intercultural Leadership to create initiatives that both attract minority students to Cedarville and also increase the retention rate by designing programs that reflect the many cultures on campus.
Q: When did you join LLI?
A: I joined LLI in 2009.
Q: What was your favorite LLI experience?
A: My favorite experience in LLI, in addition to the mock trials and oral presentations, was meeting with the local lawyers and judges in our area. Meeting these lawyers expanded my view of the law and showed me that there are a variety of careers I can pursue in the legal profession, ranging from sports and entertainment to union representatives.
Q: What advice would you give to students thinking about applying to LLI?
A: If you are thinking about applying, be like NIKE and "just DO IT!" This experience isn't just for those who are interested in law. That is why the leadership aspect is attached to the name of the organization. There are some students in the program who do not want to be lawyers, but go on to be great leaders in their homes, schools, and eventually in their communities. Also when you are exposed to people in the community, they may have connections that will land you internships that you are interested in. Lastly, let's not forget that you will get paid for this experience.
Q: Are you enjoying your internship with the 2nd District Court of Appeals as part of the Summer Work Experience in Law (SWEL) program?
A: I must admit being an intern at a court and only being a junior in college is intimidating, but I have enjoyed my experience. The judges, staff attorneys, court administrators, etc. are warm and loving people who are willing to lend a hand when I have questions. Having this internship also helped me to decide whether or not I want to pursue this kind of profession.
Q: What kinds of assignments are you given as an intern with the 2nd District Court of Appeals?
A: One of the major assignments I have been given is to brief cases for oral arguments. I read both briefs from the Appellant and Appellee and then I draft a Case Summary by using the IRAC or CREAC formula. I often watch the oral arguments of those cases I have briefed and a few times I had the opportunity to sit in chambers as the judges deliberate.
On other days, I sit in on trials in Common Pleas and Municipal Courts. I have met a lot of lawyers and judges who are open to answering questions, whether they are general or about specific things I have seen in court. Also, by watching these cases, I mentally evaluate the proceedings to see if the case is appealable.
Q: Did court personnel and members of the legal profession show you the “inner workings” of the judicial system?
A: I believe that the legal professionals treated me really well. For example, Judge McGee allowed me the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look when it came to cases. I was able to witness the voir dire process and the proceedings before a case begins and the instructions that jurors receive before deliberation. In municipal court, Judge Dierdre Logan allowed me to be a bailiff for her court.
Q: In what ways have you changed as a result of this internship experience?
A: This internship has made me more aware of the many things I could do with a law degree. It was also great to see the many University of Dayton School of Law alumni in their field and sharing their experience and wisdom with me.
Q: Did you feel that your Law & Leadership Institute experience made you more comfortable to take on the SWEL internship?
A: I believe I had the potential to be successful in whatever I put my mind to. With LLI, it allowed me to properly mold and shape my potential productively.
Q: What are your plans when you graduate in 2016? Do you plan to pursue a career in law?
A: When I graduate from Cedarville in 2016, my plan is to go to law school, but I'm not sure if I want to go straight from undergrad or if I want to take a year off. After I graduate from law school, I want to become a defense attorney (whether it is state or federal) and practice for a while. After that, I may want to become a judge.
Gabriel Jackson was born in New Orleans and currently lives with his family in Columbus, Ohio. Gabriel is currently in his senior year of high school. Gabriel joined the Law and Leadership Institute the summer before his 9th grade year in high school. Gabriel maintains a 3.6 grade-point average. He is also on the wrestling team and is in Scholarly Teens Interested in Programs and Science (STEPS) and Manifest Your Destiny. Gabriel has visited over 15 universities and wants to major in political science and minor in international affairs.
Q: How did you originally hear about LLI?
A: I originally heard about the Law and Leadership Institute program from my 8th grade History teacher Mr. Wrighter. He was a LLI instructor for 9th graders. Since I was an outspoken student with insightful opinions, he believed the program would be perfect for me. Four years have passed, and after looking back, joining the program has been one of my best life choices yet. I now possess newfound confidence in my future.
Q: What was your favorite LLI experience during the 9th grade?
A: My favorite experience of 9th grade year has to be my first mock trial. Our mock trial was an event to see. We had intense battles between attorneys and witnesses with thought-provoking opening and closing statements. Our case dealt with a student wearing a pro-marijuana t-shirt to school in support of his sick grandmother. In the case, we wanted to know if the student had the right to do so. I was a witness who was one of the defendant’s friends. I had to get into character. Even though the attorneys tried to twist my words into something negative, I kept my composure on the stand and added to a victory for the defense. I ended up receiving the Best Witness Award.
Q: What was your favorite LLI experience during the 10th grade?
A: My favorite experience was my summer internship. At the age of 15, I was given the opportunity to intern at a law firm. This is an opportunity that most law students dream of accomplishing. My law firm in particular was Frost Brown Todd. At my law firm, I got a better understanding of how attorneys actually work. I met many great lawyers along the way and my favorite hands down was Guy Moreno. Guy basically kept watch of me and my fellow intern during our internship. He may not know, but that experience has strengthened my desire to become an attorney.
Q: Did you enjoy your 11th grade summer with LLI?
A: My 11th grade summer with LLI was life-changing. During this time, I realized that next year I would be a senior applying to college. Many things came to mind such as: Are my grades in good standing? Is college made for me? How will I pay for my college education? LLI helped me get a grip on my life and I started preparing for my future. First, we received test prep for the ACT and SAT. These tests are a key factor in college admissions applications. Second, we started going to college visits/tours. During this time I got to see different schools, and I developed a better understanding of where I wanted to be. Spending several years in college seems like a great opportunity. I am pretty sure everything will work out for the better.
Q: What colleges do you plan to apply to for the fall of 2015?
A: When it comes to applying for college, I am making sure that I pursue multiple opportunities. I want to find a college that is perfect for me and one that will strengthen my character and enrich my life. I plan on applying to several colleges and I am keeping my options open. In particular, I am applying to The Ohio State University, Howard University, Otterbein University, Miami University (Oxford), Ohio University, Denison University, University of Pennsylvania, Berea College and Morehouse College. I am interested in public, private, and HBCU educations; they may be different in specific ways but I am still eager to discover which one is best for me.
Q: What advice would you give to students considering applying to LLI?
A: Take life by the wheels and don’t be afraid to take risks or fail. It’s all a part of building your character and life. This is a wonderful program and I truly believe any student could benefit from it. For example, law is part of our daily lives, and shouldn’t we all want to know your rights? LLI provides this knowledge and hopefully, your rights will never be infringed upon by knowing this information. One may ask what if I don’t want to be an attorney? I would respond by saying, try looking into it before casting it away. Law may become a personal love and even if it doesn’t, this program teaches life skills such as networking and professionalism. By looking at LLI holistically, you have few things to lose but a lot of things to gain.
After opening the letter from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and learning that he had been selected as a Millennium Scholar, Bryan Quijada immediately sent an email to Dean Kathy Northern, the LLI administrator at Mortiz College of Law, writing “This changes everything.” A graduate of Beechcroft High School in Columbus, Bryan was selected from among 50,000 applicants and, as a Gates Scholar, will have all of his financial needs met for his four-year undergraduate degree at The Ohio State University and perhaps through graduate school as well. Bryan attributed this tremendous accomplishment, in part, to his four-year participation in LLI and the support and assistance he received from Dean Northern.
While Bryan held outside employment during high school, he scheduled his job for the early morning hours so that he could change clothes, ride two busses, and arrive at Moritz College of Law by 9:00 a.m. in order to take LLI Summer Classes. He studied whenever he could. On the bus rides to visit colleges, Bryan drilled on vocabulary words to improve his ACT scores. Cybele Smith, one of the LLI instructors at Moritz College of Law, explained, “the young man personifies hard work, humility and sheer tenacity with a big heart.”
During his tenure in LLI, Bryan interned at the law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLC during the summer between his ninth and tenth grades. Vorys attorneys and paralegals gave Bryan feedback as he worked through mock trial problems. One attorney noted that Bryan was quiet and shy, but approached his work with special thoughtfulness.
Through the Young Scholars and the Seniors-to-Sophomores programs, Bryan took OSU classes and recently completed his first year of college classes simultaneously with his senior year of high school. In addition to serving as class valedictorian, Bryan also participated in mock trial, STEM Club, and the Kenyon College Writer’s Program and received varsity letters in soccer, track, and swimming.
Bryan plans to study aeronautical engineering at The Ohio State University this fall.