Student Volunteers

Read about the great work students from across the country are performing with the Center. To learn more about internship opportunities, please contact us. 

2014 Spring Break of Service
UDC David A. Clarke School of Law students made a video about their 2014 Spring Break of Service trip to work with the Center. They did a great job and we were sad to see them leave; but this footage contains some great memories. Learn a little more about the students’ week in Mississippi by watching the video below.

Belcore named Young Lawyer of the Year
Todd Belcore, class of 2010 graduate and organizing member of two spring break of service trips with the Center, was recently honored as Young Lawyer of the Year by the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) for his excellence in advocacy, litigation and service to the community through his work as an attorney at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. While in law school at Northwestern University, Belcore served as president the Student Effort to Rejuvenate Volunteering (SERV), where he organized law students to work with the Center’s Hurricane Katrina disaster recovery team in our Biloxi, Miss. office in the aftermath of the storm.

After seeing the devastation in the Gulf region, Belcore worked with Northwestern’s administrators to create a clinical law class, which focused on client counseling and intake, to further prepare he and his classmates to provide legal assistance to Katrina disaster victims. “Working with the incredible advocates at the Mississippi Center for Justice helped me understand that poverty is a cancer that affects all races and creeds. Everything I learned during those service trips reinforced my desire to fight to ensure that everyone has access to opportunity and justice. Now, I am privileged to do that every day at the Shriver Center,” said Belcore. 

Congratulations to Todd on this marvelous achievement. Read more about Belcore’s work to provide access to opportunity on the Shriver Center’s website.

Students archive civil rights documents
As Mississippi marks the 50 year anniversary of the assassination of civil rights icon Medgar Evers, interns for the Mississippi for Justice are completing a three-year project with Tougaloo College and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to evaluate, organize and archive boxes of files from the Farish street offices of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Legal Defense Fund.

In the spring of 2011, when the Center was approached by Minnie Watson, archives curator for Tougaloo College, a historically black university and the epicenter of the civil rights movement in Jackson, Tougaloo had recently received a grant to organize and archive a neglected group of files from the legendary blues corridor. For the past two summers, the Center’s interns have spent one day a week digging through molding, sometimes bug infested boxes to save this important history.

Important not only because of what it means to generations of Mississippians, but because of the foundation the struggles of the civil rights movement gives to the work of the Mississippi Center for Justice. For our interns, who are with us for only a month or two, the work with the Tougaloo files have served as a reminder that they stand on the shoulders of giants.

Ben Griffin, a 2012 intern from Mississippi College School of Law, said it best,

“I was surprised by how emotional I became while reading through the case files. Throughout my documenting and reading, there were numerous incidents of police brutality and racial violence, but I would soon find a file citing the release of a protester. In my head, I rooted for the protesters, and kept a mental tally of the do-gooders, because it was easy to get down. I remember thinking how absurd it was that my parents were alive at that time. I'm encouraged by how American society has progressed, but taken aback by how we aren't that far removed from Jim Crow.”

For this final summer of work, the Center’s interns will be archiving the personal files of the Rev. Ed King and Aaron Henry, the head of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP. It is our hope that they will leave the project with a determination to continue to fight for the rights of others, wherever their careers may take them.

Photo: Ben Griffin Mississippi College School of Law intern (summer 2012)


Jackson State Univerity students increase fair credit awareness
The Center’s consumer protection team helped guide students from Jackson State University’s Institute for Social Justice and Race Relations, and Fannie Lou-Hammer Pre-Law Society through research to educate the public about the negative effects predatory loans have on the economic stability of their community.

Research began in February, which gave students time to prepare a sample presentation for Center staff. The student’s then held a community forum, which took place at the University’s Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) Civil Rights Education Center in Jackson, Mississippi, and informed a crowded room of adults about the perils of payday lending.

The students worked closely with Whitney Barkley, staff attorney, to conduct their research and put together an agenda, highlighting the impact predatory lending has on hardworking Mississippians. “The students did a great job and were excited to share what they learned to help increase the chances people in their community can build wealth and avoid getting caught up in a payday loan cycle,” said Barkley.  After the students finished sharing their research results, they moderated the expert panel assembled by their team, including the Center’s consumer protection director, Paheadra Robinson, who provided payday loan alternatives to attendees and further contextualized the dangers of payday lending.

The April forum was just in time for Financial Literacy Month; an opportunity to raise consumer awareness about available loan options and practices. For more tips about safe alternatives to payday and other predatory loans, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau web site.