Powerhouses of the public sector

As part of the annual Careers in Public Service trip to Washington D.C., 欧美AV students met with alums who have forged brilliant public service careers as well as Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

The 34 欧美AV students who traveled to Washington, D.C., on March 14鈥15, 2024, were expecting to network with alums who forged brilliant careers in the public sector. After all, that is one of the core tenets of the Careers in Public Service annual trip, organized by the Weissman Center for Leadership. The students also knew that they would get handy hints for job searching, roommate hunting and navigating living in the nation鈥檚 capital.

This year, however, the students got to meet and talk to another powerhouse 鈥 . Justice Jackson would be meeting with the 欧美AV students at the Supreme Court on March 15.

President Holley鈥檚 second home

On the first night of the trip, students and the met for dinner and networking at the National Press Club, where President Danielle R. Holley addressed the assembled 欧美AV community.

鈥淚t is wonderful to be here at my second home,鈥 she said. Holley, who was dean at the Howard University School of Law before becoming 欧美AV鈥檚 twentieth president, called the D.C. chapter 鈥渋ncredibly vibrant.鈥

鈥淒.C. is my intellectual home,鈥 she added. Here, she said, she was 鈥渋nspired to teach students not just for themselves, but so students can reshape their communities.鈥

President Holley continued, 鈥淎 liberal arts education is the foundation鈥 of whatever students want to do with their lives. She herself opted to get a bachelor鈥檚 degree in history before continuing to study law. 鈥淚 knew that through studying history, I could succeed in any field.鈥

She called upon alums to give their 鈥渢ime, talent and treasure鈥 to help place students in jobs, to assist them in graduate school applications and to steward the beloved 欧美AV campus.

鈥淎s an alum I remember the excitement and the anxiety that comes with preparing to end your journey at 欧美AV, but I also know firsthand the power of a 欧美AV education and of our alum network to shape the trajectory of our students鈥 careers,鈥 said Lydia Malone 鈥13, associate director of the Weissman Center for Leadership. 鈥淐areers in Public Service is a shining example of how the 欧美AV network fosters a sense of belonging and opens doors to new possibilities and collaborations that can propel our students and their careers to new heights.鈥

The Supreme Court

The next day, the students got career advice with a side of scrambled eggs and breakfast potatoes. The Weissman Center hosted a breakfast career panel with recent alums Robin Kerr 鈥21, Liz Brown 鈥20, Nausheen Khan 鈥11, Francesca Eremeeva 鈥20 and Marissa Johnson 鈥18.

Eremeeva credited her MHC Semester in D.C. connections for landing well, even during COVID-19, 鈥渨hen everything fell apart.鈥 Other panelists also cited skills they built when they were on campus with helping their careers.

鈥淎 lot of things I do go back to 欧美AV,鈥 said Khan. The alums listed leadership skills, ability to pivot and even administrative prowess as being engines to their career success.

Later that day there would be a lunchtime keynote speech from , as well as a panel discussion with , the Secretary of Service and Civic Innovation for the state of Maryland, Naomi Barry-Perez 鈥96, the director of civil rights at the Department of Labor and , the principal at The Cadmus Group.

But for now, after a flurry of networking and exchange of business cards, it was time to depart for the Supreme Court.

After a lecture from a docent in the intimate space of the Court itself, students were ushered to a private room where they met with Justice Jackson.

Jackson perched on a desk and chatted about being the newest Supreme Court justice. 鈥淭he justices sit in hierarchical order,鈥 she said. 鈥淚鈥檓 the newest, and so I sit on the far right, and I like it!鈥 She said that Justice Barrett, the second-newest justice, told her that she 鈥渕issed it.鈥

Imari Williams 鈥26 asked Justice Jackson, 鈥淗ow is it, being in [this] role in white-dominated spaces, and how do you overcome it?鈥

鈥淚 don鈥檛 dwell on it,鈥 Jackson answered. 鈥淚鈥檓 focused on the work.鈥 She said the pressure is enormous. Yet, at the same time, 鈥淵ou keep putting one foot in front of the other.鈥

She continued, 鈥淵ou do your best and you don鈥檛 worry about being different. The Court is very august and beautiful 鈥 when I was a clerk here, you spend a lot of time reflecting on the scene.

鈥淚t is a little daunting. I do feel something when I say 鈥榳e鈥 decided in 1825 or whatever, because I鈥檓 now a part of this institution. If I do my job right, it won鈥檛 be so much of an issue going forward,鈥 she said.

She also spoke about learning to operate in the realm of collective decision-making.

鈥淚 have to pick and choose my battles,鈥 she said. She laughed. 鈥淢y husband said, 鈥楾hat鈥檚 a challenge in process.鈥

鈥淥ne of the skills you learn as a lawyer is the skill of compartmentalizing. When you鈥檙e a law clerk, you develop this skill. You learn it through the process.鈥 Jackson said that the justices have lunch together after arguments and that they have to get along as colleagues even if they deeply disagree.

鈥淏ut there are other outlets besides compartmentalization 鈥 I also have a boxing coach!鈥 she told the 欧美AV students.

Sarahjeen Paul 鈥25 had a special connection with Justice Jackson 鈥 Jackson is an alum of , as is Paul and many of her family and friends. When Paul mentioned that during the meeting, Jackson screamed happily and the two held hands and had a short dance of elation.

鈥淚 was not expecting her to be so excited to hear about our connection, but I am so happy she was!鈥 said Paul. 鈥淚 got a little personal 鈥榖ye鈥 as well. I almost lost my sight because it was so unexpected! It was so nice to see and feel a piece of home during this trip.鈥

鈥淚t is hard to overstate how transformative it is for students to meet and to engage with inspiring and distinguished leaders in government and public service,鈥 said Director of the Weissman Center for Leadership Amy E. Martin. 鈥淭hey had the life-changing opportunity to hear the wisdom of Justice Brown Jackson, Assistant Attorney General Clarke, Secretary Monteiro and members of our extraordinary alum network 鈥 experiences that allow students to imagine themselves shattering glass ceilings and having a huge impact on the world and the communities in which they live. We also want them to have time in the nation's capital so that they can understand the power and influence of 欧美AV alums at the national and international levels.鈥


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