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Domestic Exchange Student Reflections

Alleyah Caesar - American University

Alleyah CaesarI am an aspiring civil rights attorney with a strong passion for protecting marginalized identities. I was excited to work towards that goal by interning at The Council for Court Excellence (CCE), a nonprofit, nonpartisan civic organization that makes policy recommendations for courts in the DC area.

Interning at CCE was perfect for me because their diversity of projects matched my broad range of criminal reform interests. I worked on the task force for jails and justice. I drafted testimonies for hearings, created newsletter content, and worked with stakeholders to find solutions for prison reform.

What I enjoyed most was collaborating with returning citizens and re-entry service providers. Helping others reintegrate into society remains a continuous source of inspiration for me. Each day, I knew I was making strides in removing racial disparities and restoring equity to some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

One of the most enjoyable experiences was doing a police ride-along! As a requirement of my criminology and justice course, I spent four hours on a Saturday accompanying a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer. This is why I valued my justice and law concentration. Our professors went the mile to ensure that we had practical contact in our fields of interest.

During my ride-along, we toured the 7th District that catered to Washington’s southernmost part. I saw many incidents: from neighbor disputes to inspections of abandoned houses. I even witnessed a drug overdose resuscitation. It was the perfect combination of suspense and euphoria, and I never wanted it to end. This experience was nothing short of invaluable. Aside from the thrills and excitement, I gained more respect for law enforcement by getting a direct glimpse at their job's challenges. Seeing how they mitigate the barriers in helping underserved communities reminded me of the work being done at my internship.

Graphic of Spelman + Kaplan Partnership

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