Jaylen Windham

2018 recipient of the Audrey J. Harris Summer Internship Award


Interned at Cook County Public Defender’s Office

Blessed and overjoyed to be a recipient of this award, I am a senior graduating in the Spring of 2019. I will be graduating with a degree in English Literature and a certificate in Criminal Justice. Following graduation, I intend to attend law school in the Fall of 2019, in hopes of becoming a criminal or juvenile defense attorney.

For my summer internship, I had the opportunity to work with the Cook County Public Defender’s Office in their Juvenile Justice Division. My summer consisted mainly of observing different areas of being a lawyer and assisting in areas where I was needed. Through observing, I was able to watch court proceedings, including murder and jury trials, and regular proceedings; such as, arraignments.  I was also able to observe meetings with clients, and on-site investigations; which, both lent more insight to the trials I observed in court. Apart from observing, the tasks I completed consisted of pre-trial research, transcribing, and watching video evidence. The tasks I performed allowed me to work closely on multiple cases with attorneys, which in turn fueled my passion in the field.

Before the summer started, my passion for law mainly surfaced in general interest. Yet, as the summer progressed I noticed that not only did I love the work I was doing in general, but I loved the work I was doing for my community. Being a Black woman from the Chicagoland area, I noticed that majority of the clients I worked with were black men and women. This notion did not sit well with me. From that realization, I found that my summer at the Public Defender’s office allowed for two passions of mine to be discovered.  Going forward, I have hopes to work as a defense attorney in Chicago for the betterment of my community and to fulfill my passion for justice. These realizations; however, would not have been possible without the amazing internship program we have here at the University, nor without the graciousness of the Audrey J. Harris Family.