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J’djouna Pierre: Fall 2021 Criminal Justice Scholarship Winner

by Aug 17, 2021Firm News, Scholarship

I am a first-generation college graduate. That achievement alone has already transformed the trajectory of my life and the lives of my family for the better. But I cannot and will not stop there. My ultimate dream is to become the first lawyer in my family and pave the way for others. I was born in Haiti and immigrated to the United States at a young age. Embracing my diverse background helped shape the person who I am today and encouraged me to explore diverse issues.

Growing up in Immokalee, a small agricultural town in Southwest Florida, I witnessed a lack of legal assistance for non-English speakers, immigration challenges, and harsh working conditions that migrant farm workers endure. These human issues and my experiences in Immokalee, encouraged me to pursue a career in law. My goal is to provide legal services in English and Haitian Creole to help individuals that are neglected and mistreated in our society. Specifically, I want to advocate for individuals that have been wrongfully convicted, those who cannot afford legal services, and victims of domestic violence.

Currently, I am a third-year student at Florida International University College of Law (FIU). Although law school has been challenging, I have excelled in and out of the classroom because of my strong work ethic and resilience. I serve as a staff member on the FIU Law Review, a team member of the Moot Court Team, and a team member of the Negotiation and Mediation Team. I also served as the President of the Haitian American Law Student Association, and as a peer mentor to a group of first year law students.

Moreover, I have gained valuable skills and work experience outside of the classroom. Last summer I worked with the Prosecution Integrity Unit of the Jacksonville State Attorney’s Office reviewing wrongful conviction petitions from inmates. The entire process of reviewing trial transcripts and evidence helped me develop a better understanding of the trial and post-conviction processes. I also worked with Dade Legal Aid, Put Something Back Program. There I saw firsthand how their free services helped women escape their abusive domestic situations. During the Spring semester of my second year, I interned with the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s office. My experience there piqued my interest in working as a public defender right after graduation.

I heavily rely on student loans and my savings for my financial support. I am saving and budgeting my finances so I can take out fewer student loans each semester of law school. Receiving this scholarship would help me in achieving this goal. If I become a recipient of this award, I will use it towards purchasing my textbooks, tuition, and living expenses.

At a young age, I knew I wanted to become a criminal defense attorney so I could speak up for those that needed someone to be their voice. With the support of my community and the generous individuals that believe in me, every day I am one step closer to achieving my dreams.

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