Kellan Robinson: Reflections


“This summer, I had a front seat view of how justice works.”

My grandma gave me a “memory book” when I was in Kindergarten. In this book I answered questions after I completed each grade. These questions ranged from what new friends I made that year to what I want to be when I grow up. In the 1st grade portion, I wrote that “when I grow up I want to be a lawyer.”

At that time, I did not know anything about the law or what it means to be an attorney, but over the years I have nurtured my passion for the law, social justice, and human rights. On my journey to learn about what law actually means, the program Summer Work Experience in Law (SWEL) afforded me the life changing opportunity to intern at OJPC. During my interview for SWEL, I shared my passion about social justice and they gratefully picked me to intern at OJPC. SWEL matching my passion with this internship allowed me to nurture my interest in law and social justice. This passion and the mission of the Ohio Justice & Policy Center assured me that OJPC was a match for me.

OJPC's 2016 Summer Interns
OJPC’s 2016 Summer Interns

I have read copious articles about the crippling effects of mass incarceration, but until my time interning at OJPC, I had never witnessed it firsthand. Interviewing individuals seeking a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) truly opened my eyes to the barriers that people with criminal records have, especially when obtaining employment. Two of the attorneys at OJPC took all of the interns to a CQE hearing, and afterwards we had a discussion. This experience made me more aware of racial biases in judges and the sometimes disrespectful treatment of people at their hearing.

This summer, I had a front seat view of how justice works. I learned how it is a long, tedious process with winding roads. During my internship, I was able to see societal problems, not just read about them. At OJPC, I saw the fight for justice in action. My summer at OJPC confirmed my career goal, which is to be a world leader that manifests change, from deinstitutionalizing racism in the education to ending police brutality that affects marginalized groups world-wide. This fall, I will be a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I plan to major in Public Policy or Global Studies with a minor in Neuroscience. At UNC, I will continue to cultivate my passion for human rights and social justice.

Kellan Robinson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Class of 2020