The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: ODALIS HERNANDEZ MEDRANO '21

Odalis Hernandez Medrano '21 interning at the Southeast office of LatinoJustice during the 2019 fall term.

Odalis Hernandez Medrano '21 interning at the Southeast office of LatinoJustice during the 2019 fall term.

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Odalis Hernandez Medrano '21 interned at the Southeast office of LatinoJustice in Orlando, Florida during the 2019 fall term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

This past fall, I interned at the Southeast office of LatinoJustice in Orlando, Florida. While there, my work revolved around providing administrative and research support to the legal team. I conducted policy and litigation research that attorneys used to develop litigation strategies and implement advocacy campaigns to protect the civil rights of Latinx communities in Florida. This research extended into social justice issues like workplace and language discrimination, voting rights suppression, criminal justice reform, the juvenile justice system, and immigration reform. Additionally, I synthesized this research into educational materials like Florida voting rights’ guides and census confidentiality reports for lawyers and community-based organizations to share with clients and other individuals. Moreover, I drafted an article related to criminal justice reform and the school-to-prison pipeline to be published in an online journal.

The research and writing experience that I gained from my internship with LatinoJustice has fueled my desire to learn how I can use advocacy, community education, and policy analysis to protect the rights of those marginalized and criminalized by unjust policies and practices. I plan on continuing to investigate the historical development of those laws that discriminate against certain population groups and develop studies researching how exactly they manifest themselves in the lives of these people. 

My internship with LatinoJustice was rewarding because it provided a learning and growth opportunity that I would not have experienced had I not completed it. Since the first day of my internship, my work largely revolved around researching a variety of subjects related to changes in legislation or ongoing social justice issues that impacted the Latinx community in Florida. This research introduced me to concepts like prison gerrymandering, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the need for improved political and civics education in public schools. Even topics like the importance of voting or participating in the census were illuminated under a much more magnified lens that detailed exactly how current laws and practices discriminate and criminalize Latinx folk and what these mean for the day-to-day lives of individuals and families.

My future plans continue to be to attend law school and build a career around protecting human rights and empowering Latinx communities within the United States and abroad. This internship reaffirmed that this endeavor can be accomplished as an attorney, however, it also exposed me to other career paths that can serve the same purpose. For instance, I am now considering careers in public policy, like becoming a policy analyst or lobbyist. In whichever career I decide to pursue, however, must incorporate some form of community engagement. At LatinoJustice I had ample researching and writing tasks, yet I did not have as many opportunities to work on community advocacy and education efforts as I would have enjoyed. I found myself missing that community engagement component. 

Overall, my internship with LatinoJustice PRLDEF was successful. I was challenged but rewarded with learning opportunities that I may not have had experienced elsewhere and that will surely be useful as I continue my education at Dartmouth and beyond. I am grateful for the Rockefeller Center’s Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP) through which I honed valuable skills, like learning how to foster positive relationships with employers, that proved themselves useful during my internship period.

The Rockefeller Internships Program has funding for Dartmouth undergraduate students to help defray the cost of living expenses associated with a full-time, unpaid, leave-term internships in the fields of public policy, public affairs, and social entrepreneurship.

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