Project Interns Practice Social Justice with Social Distance | Blog

July 31, 2020

Our lives and the way we work have changed quite a bit over the last several months, and the Project’s internship program is no exception. While working remotely during the pandemic has brought challenges for all of us, our summer interns have had to meet the team and jump into our work without ever setting foot in our office or meeting in person. Despite these challenges, they have quickly made an impact and become valued members of our team.

 

Read below about their experiences and what brought them to join Project on Predatory Student Lending.


 

Adreanna Sellers

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

University: University of North Carolina School of Law

Year in school: Rising 2L

Jolie Wei

Hometown: Palo Alto, California

University: Brown University

Year in school: Rising Junior

Michelle Wang

Hometown: San Diego, California

University: Wellesley College

Year in school: Rising Sophomore

Caitlin Donovan

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

University: Duke University School of Law

Year in school:  Rising 2L

 


What is it like for you to work at a social justice legal organization during this pandemic?

I think one of the great benefits of working at a social justice legal organization is the caring, empathetic attorneys and staff that work alongside you. This trait remains true under normal circumstances and during the pandemic. However, this was especially great during the pandemic as everyone is learning how to work, connect, and navigate in a new way. The global pandemic has affected everyone in a personal way, and it has been very important to feel comfortable sharing this with Project staff to adjust in the best way possible.

Similarly, as someone who is pursuing a career in civil rights and social justice work, it felt great to be able to give back to thousands of people who have also been affected by the pandemic in their own ways. The Project’s focus on economic justice is all the more salient as many of the people they represent are feeling the economic effects of the pandemic. Being a part of the process to help these individuals receive relief is even more meaningful.

        • Adreanna Sellers

 

What brought you to this internship? How did you find the Project on Predatory Student Lending?

My experience volunteering with pro bono projects was a highlight of my 1L year, and it reinforced my desire to intern with a public interest organization this summer. I kept seeing the Project’s work referenced in media reports related to student debt forgiveness, and I became interested in interning at PPSL as I learned more about its role in shaping student debt policy. I’m especially interested in higher education law and consumer law, and PPSL offered the perfect opportunity to develop my knowledge and skills in both of these areas.

        • Caitlin Donovan

 

What activities do you participate in during the school year?

I am president of the Black Law Student Association (BLSA), a founder and executive board member of the North Carolina Civil Rights Law Review, and co-chair of the Conference on Race, Class, Gender, and Ethnicity. I also love doing pro bono work with the ACLU and Legal Aid of NC.

        • Adreanna Sellers

 

What will you bring back from this experience to your education/legal career?

It has been eye-opening to see the ways in which racial justice manifests in the education sector, and to see the ways in which policies have perpetuated the cycle and resurgence of for-profit exploitation of vulnerable populations. Working in this clinic has opened up my perspective on the roots of racial injustice, and it has motivated me to continue exploring and advocating for racial injustice in its different manifestations. Although I am still exploring future career plans, I hope to bring back the perspectives I have gained from this internship into my research at school.

        • Jolie Wei

 

What is the most unexpected or most interesting project you’ve worked on so far?

Having the opportunity to read through and categorize a multitude of student and employee testimonies in the Britt vs. FCC case helped introduce me to how for-profit colleges operate. I found it drastically different learning about these cases through reports as opposed to reading the student and employee experiences directly. It was quite shocking to learn about some of the dangerous tactics used on vulnerable populations, and it helped me to contextualize these cases.

        • Jolie Wei

 

What were you most excited to work on?

I recently co-authored an article highlighting how for-profit colleges have been aggressively advertising and misleading students to enroll. With the general rise in online education during the pandemic, it’s been vital to feature stories of former students and educate the public on the industry’s predatory behavior.

        • Michelle Wang

 

What’s your favorite zoom background?

The waiting room from The Good Place that has “Welcome! Everything is fine.” written on the wall.

        • Caitlin Donovan

 

How are you keeping a connection with your classmates/friends over the summer? 

Bi-weekly Netflix watch parties! As unnatural as it may feel to schedule all human interactions, it’s also nice to have something to look forward to every few days.

        • Michelle Wang