Wayne Law students serving public interest through summer fellowships

DETROIT – Seven Wayne State University Law School students are gaining experience and serving a variety of agencies this summer, thanks to the support of the 2015 Public Interest Law Fellowships.

The 2015 fellowship winners and their organizations are:

  • Sabra Bushey of Dearborn, rising second-year student – Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.
  • Alexandra Kavieff of Detroit, rising third-year student – Wayne County Solution Oriented Domestic Violence Prevention Court
  • Holland Locklear of Detroit, rising second-year student – Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice
  • Maureen O’Sullivan of Northville, rising third-year student – Michigan State Appellate Defender Office
  • Justin Sterk of Detroit, rising third-year student – Detroit Land Bank Authority
  • Phaedra Wainaina of Detroit, rising second-year student – U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Michigan
  • Ashley Zacharski of Warren, rising third-year student – Detroit Center for Family Advocacy

Wayne Law created the fellowships in 2009 to give students experiential education and help ease their financial stresses before graduation and to help the organizations for which they’ll be working. Fellowship recipients are selected each year by a committee of Wayne Law faculty members, staff and alumni.

Bushey, originally from Sykesville, Md., already is hard at work as an intern at the EPA, a position that is a good fit for her career goal to work in public-interest environmental law.

“I am interning in the Office of Federal Activities in the International Compliance Assurance Division, which is responsible for ensuring that companies that ship hazardous waste follow the required regulations and procedures under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act,” she said. “I have already learned a lot about the regulatory framework involved in the import and export of hazardous waste shipments internationally. I am hoping to learn more about the specific regions of the world that struggle with illegal hazardous waste imports that are frequently dumped by foreign countries.”

She also hopes to gain more legal research and writing experience, she said. Bushey earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and policy from the University of Maryland.

Kavieff, when she works with the Wayne County Solution Oriented Domestic Violence Prevention Court this summer, will expand on what she’s learned working with the Free Legal Aid Clinic, where she’s been a student attorney since fall 2014.

“I hope to learn more about family law from a different perspective and to gain more experience working with victims of domestic violence,” she said.

After graduation, she’d like to use her law degree to work in some sort of public-interest capacity. She earned her bachelor’s degree in politics and government and English from Ohio Wesleyan University. She is an associate editor for The Journal of Law in Society at Wayne Law, student treasurer of the National Lawyers Guild and a student member of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Locklear, who grew up in Clinton Township, already is hard at work at the Sugar Law Center.

“I’m most excited about a case we’ve joined as plaintiffs in Zynda v. Zimmer,” he said. “It’s a case that is challenging some of the practices of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.”

He’s not sure exactly how he’ll be practicing law after graduation, but he does know his work will be focused on social justice.

“I want to use my position of privilege to challenge the very power dynamics that put me where I am at the expense of so many,” Locklear said.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science at Wayne State and volunteers as a legal observer with the National Lawyers Guild. Locklear is a member of the Keith Students for Civil Rights at Wayne Law.

Working this summer for the Michigan State Appellate Defender Office will help O’Sullivan hone her career goals, she said. She’s strongly interested in both environmental and criminal law and hasn’t made a final decision on which avenue to pursue. Last summer, she was an intern with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2, in New York.

“During this summer placement, I hope to gain courtroom experience and a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system,” O’Sullivan said. “Also, I want to observe first-hand the injustices indigent (defendants) face in the court system and understand how I as an attorney can ensure that every person convicted of a crime – not just those with the financial standing to afford counsel – receives a fair trial.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, majoring in English and environmental studies, and worked over the winter with Wayne Law’s Transnational Environmental Law Clinic and as a legal intern with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in Detroit. She’s an associate editor with The Journal of Law in Society and sustainability chair for Wayne Law’s Environmental Law Society.

Working with the Detroit Land Bank Authority will help Sterk further his interest and expertise in urban planning and related fields, he said.

“My interests lie in environmental law, land use, smart growth, urban and regional planning, and real estate, and I think the land bank provides an interesting synthesis of these areas,” Sterk said. “To that end, I hope to gain a better understanding of the real estate and land-use process as it relates to the condemnation of blighted properties and revitalization of neighborhoods. I’m mindful of and hope to learn more about the social and economic complexities inherent in this process. The main thing I hope to take away from this experience is how an organization such as a land bank contributes to neighborhood and city revitalization and a better understanding of the relevant transactional real estate process.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in sports management with a minor in environmental studies and works with Wayne Law’s Transnational Environmental Law Clinic. After graduation, he hopes to work in some way that contributes to smarter growth and regional planning.

Wainaina is serving as a judicial intern for Judge Marianne Battani of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Michigan, so also working for the U.S. Attorney’s Office will further her understanding of the federal court system.

“I hope to gain a healthy knowledge for how to navigate some of the most visible and significant questions of law today,” Wainaina said. “After graduating law school, I hope to pursue a clerkship with the federal court system.”

At Wayne Law, she is active with the Black Law Students Association and as a Winter Warrior volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and African American studies at the University of Michigan and continues to serve as a mentor for minority students at Pontiac High School through U of M’s College Advising Corps.

Zacharski will be specifically training for her ultimate career goal of practicing public-interest law advocating for women and children when she works this summer for the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy.

“I hope to gain a better understanding of the practice of law from the perspective of attorneys,” she said. “Previously, I worked in (the Solution Oriented Domestic Violence Prevention Court in Detroit) and gained the opposite perspective. Additionally, I hope to gain practical knowledge in family law and the benefits of the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy’s holistic approach to helping families who are at risk of having a child removed from the home. Finally, I look forward to the opportunity to appear on the record in a family case and to advocate for children involved in the foster care system.”

Originally from New Baltimore, Zacharski is an article editor with The Journal of Law in Society and a member of the Keith Students for Civil Rights. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Michigan State University.

Photos:

Sabra Bushey
Alexandra Kavieff
Holland Locklear
Maureen O’Sullivan
Justin Sterk
Phaedra Wainaina
Ashley Zacharski

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