When Sherika finishes her third and final year of law school this spring she will take up a position as the 2019-2021 Gault Fellow at the National Juvenile Defender Center. She will be working with public defender offices and communities across the country to improve the quality of juvenile defense by simultaneously building the capacity of the juvenile defense bar and engaging in systemic reform in both policy and practice.
Adopted by foster parents when she was three, Sherika developed early on an awareness that she could have had a very different fate. Feeling strongly that she had the responsibility to give back, helping the community became a passion for her that started in middle school. Continuing as an undergraduate, she was presented with the President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award by President Obama in recognition of her work with RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).
After completing her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and working for three years with youth programs Sherika realized that she was not addressing the root causes of childhood trauma and neglect. Making the decision to commit to law school was not an easy one – the family that adopted Sherika was a working class family that lived from paycheck to paycheck, she had to support herself, and she would be at least three years older than many of her classmates. She rose to the challenge and was awarded the Executive Alliance Emerging Women Leaders Scholarship in 2016 to help her through her first year.
Because of her outstanding accomplishments, Sherika was chosen to receive the Executive Alliance Emerging Women Leaders Scholarship again for her third and final year. While exceling in the rigorous law school program and completing job applications and interviews, she has made the time to be Managing Editor of the Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class, and a law clinic supervisor for new students. With the Center for Children’s Law and Policy she worked on the Stop Solitary for Kids Campaign and on a project with the City of Baltimore to improve the youth diversion programs for crime prevention and alternatives to incarceration.
“First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who played a role in awarding me the generous $5,400.00 Executive Alliance Emerging Women Leaders Scholarship. I am extremely grateful for not only the scholarship, but the faith you put in my future and potential as an emerging female leader.”
“While I always knew I was meant to go to law school to advocate for others, I knew it came with a lot of risks—specifically financial. I would need to take out loans on top of the ones I had from undergrad and knew from the get go I would not be going into a high paying position once I graduated. I have grown to recognize the number of pursuits that my loans may keep out of reach. However, when the amount I owe begins to impact my career plans, I think about my parents. All they want in life is to ensure their children have it better than they did. My singular goal is to fulfill this dream for them by graduating law school and leveraging my degree to improve the lives of others.
The Executive Alliance Emerging Women Leaders Scholarship will allow me to continue to pursue my dreams of being a public interest attorney while helping to lessen the financial burden of loan repayment when I graduate. I am committed to continuing to give back to the Maryland community that I have come to call home and look forward to helping youth across the state and country reach their full potential in the way that so many others have helped me to reach mine. Thank you, once again, for this extremely generous investment in my future. I am eternally grateful. “