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MLRI Executive Director Georgia Katsoulomitis, Summer Jobs Student Katherine Urbaez and Sharon Armour, Manager of Human Resources and Administration at MLRI
Katherine Urbaez is still deciding on a career path, but one thing she’s sure of is her learning style.
As someone who retains information most effectively by observing and performing hands-on tasks, Katherine was excited to participate in the BBA Summer Jobs program. She knew it would give her the chance to learn by watching and doing.
At the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI), Katherine has kept busy translating fliers from English to Spanish to help make Spanish-speaking clients aware of different programs. In doing this, she also learned about programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and housing assistance programs that benefit the elderly and the poor.
“Until I started doing this, I didn’t know there was something out there that would help them,” Urbaez said.
Having recently graduated from Boston International High School, Urbaez says the thought of going to law school has crossed her mind. But as she prepares to start at UMass Lowell in the fall, she may be more interested in pursuing a career in social work. MLRI’s work to help low-income families achieve economic stability has helped solidify her interest in doing the same thing, she said.
When we caught up with Katherine, she had only spent a week on the job, but she said she was already comfortable.
“I was nervous that working for lawyers would be hard, but now [MLRI] is like my second house,” she said. “The work I do is because I want to do it. I’m really interested in it.”
Katherine also said she has sharpened other skills that are essential in the workplace, such as using Microsoft Excel to help track data. At the front desk, she is a friendly face that greets visitors when they step into MLRI’s suite.
“I am exploring things that I can do, things that will turn into experiences, which will help to increase my knowledge of serving and helping not just my community but the world,” Urbaez said of the Summer Jobs Program.
Katherine’s position at MLRI is one of the 11 BBA Summer Jobs positions funded by the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF). The BBF funds these internships not only to open up opportunities for Boston’s youth, but to also provide an extra set of hands at no cost to the agencies, offices and nonprofits that need it most.
Last Thursday, the Boston Bar Foundation (BBF)’s Society of Fellows held its annual summer reception at 16 Beacon Street to celebrate the important work in our community that it helps make possible. Comprised of more than 400 of Boston’s leading attorneys, the Society of Fellows comes together several times throughout the year to mingle with friends and colleagues while learning more about the programs they are supporting as Fellows. Click here to see photos from last Thursday’s reception.
Brent Henry (Partners Healthcare), Lonnie Powers (Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation), Carol Starkey (Conn Kavanaugh) and Matthew McTygue (Locke Lord)
BBF President Lisa Goodheart gave a few remarks about the Society’s pivotal role in enabling the BBF to hit a major milestone: $1 million in legal services grants in the year ahead, with more than 50 percent of this funding coming from BBF fundraising and the minority coming from IOLTA.
“I am pleased to share the exciting news that the BBF will be granting $1 million in the upcoming year to 21 community organizations that work to provide legal services to those in need,” Lisa said. “More than half of this $1 million comes directly from BBF funds, and this incredible level of support from the BBF would not be possible without the support of all of you.”
In addition to funding this $1 million in grants to legal services organizations, the BBF funds all of the pro bono and public service initiatives of the Boston Bar Association (BBA).
The Society’s guest of honor for the evening was Cinique Weekes, an alumnus of the BBA’s Summer Jobs Program who is now a fifth-grade literacy teacher in his native Dorchester. Cinique participated in the Summer Jobs Program – which provides unique educational and professional opportunities for nearly 60 diverse youth in Boston each year – for two summers during his high school years.
Through the Summer Jobs Program, Cinique spent one summer at the firm that is now Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers and one the at the U.S. District Court. After graduating from Boston College, he joined Teach for America to work as a full-time teacher while simultaneously completing his Master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum from Boston University. He spoke to the crowd about the formative impact the Summer Jobs Program had on his life.
Summer Jobs Program alumnus Cinique Weekes tells the crowd about his success in teaching.
“I want to emphasize the importance of [the Summer Jobs] Program, because programs like this and others allowed me to become a thinker, a dreamer and someone won’t take no for an answer,” Cinique told a rapt audience. “Programs like this allowed me to be who I wanted to be and open the doors for me to still grow, and I hope that 10 years from now my students can say they are a part of this organization and organizations like it because Mr. Weekes gave them the courage to shine… Thank you to the donors and supporters that make this possible.”
Timothy Murphy (Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers) and Cinique Weekes.
To learn more about how you can become a part of this enthusiastic group of BBF supporters, please contact Tara Trask at firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 778-1984.
Kevin Truong, a Summer Jobs student working at Nixon Peabody, acts as chairman of the mock City Council meeting.
While the goal of our Summer Jobs program is to acquaint teens with valuable lessons about the legal profession to be learned in their offices, our weekly Enrichment Seminars are designed to provide unique experiences outside the office.
This week, our students visited the Boston City Council Chambers. Larry DiCara, a partner at Nixon Peabody and former City Council President, led the students through a debate. Different groups of students posed as stakeholders delivering their opinions on a hypothetical proposal to enforce a curfew for Boston teenagers.
The students also had the opportunity to ask questions regarding the relationship between the different branches of city government and the requirements to become a local political leader.
Some of the takeaways from the students who participated include:
DiCara, who has volunteered his time to the Summer Jobs program for years, expressed the importance of civic engagement to the students.
“The goal is not for every single one of you to become active in politics, although I hope some of you will. The goal is to be sure that you are good citizens, that you participate and that you vote when you can. When this summer is over, it is my hope that you know a little something about the law and the government, and that you are ready for the next step in your lives,” he said.