While interning at Street Law, Damisha worked on youth advocacy programs like Youth Act!, which helps young people develop the leadership and vision to advocate for meaningful change in their communities.
October 7, 2009
Damisha White spent three years as an intern at Street Law, Inc. planning events and working on youth advocacy programs. Damisha represents the many high school students who have benefited from Street Law, Inc.'s internship program. Her time with the organization empowered her by developing both professional and life skills and the practical legal knowledge that everyone needs to thrive as active, responsible citizens.
Never judge a Street Law book by its cover
When asked what Street Law means to me, my mind takes a trip down memory lane. It’s truly unbelievable to me how a single event or person can shape your entire life, personally and professionally. That is what Street Law did for me—although at the time, I had no idea what journey I was about to embark upon.
It was May 1999 when I met the woman who would become my mentor and shape my life forever. I was enrolled in Urban Alliance, an internship program specifically designed to teach young adults like myself how to develop life skills, prepare for college, and gain workplace experience.
A woman stepped into the auditorium of Anacostia Senior High School. Her name was Deborah Foster and she spoke of the organization she represented called Street Law. I looked at her and immediately said to myself, “Law??? Why would Urban Alliance place me here?” I had specifically told them I wanted something challenging but fun. At that time, all I really knew law to be was something that I didn’t know or care much about.
Deborah took one look at me and said optimistically, “This summer will be great!” I wasn’t convinced. In my opinion, there was nothing fun about something called Street Law with books and curriculum about law. I was sure she spent most of her hours in the office with nothing great to do and that she would have me filing all summer long.
I was totally mistaken. After a month and a half at Street Law, I found myself looking forward to every day I got to spend learning about the organization. I worked with all of the various programs that were offered, like Save Our Streets and Youth Act! It was amazing to learn about the laws that affected people my age and how empowered people can be when they understand their legal rights and responsibilities.
Deborah exposed me to every aspect of the organization. I had the opportunity to work with all the staff and other interns and found the passion they had for their cause to be inspiring. Everyday I looked forward to learning something new. Deborah and I had also begun to build a relationship that no words can ever measure.
Finding my passion
At Street Law, I learned how to develop my social skills, my leadership skills, and most of all, my professionalism. The majority of my work consisted of planning and preparing for conferences, trainings, and meetings. I quickly began to enjoy this job as I got to see an event come together from start to finish. I attended the events and saw how empowered people were when they left.
One event that stands out most in my mind was a presentation on Youth Act! that I was assigned at a youth conference in Los Angeles. The Youth Act! program helps young people develop the leadership and vision to advocate for meaningful change in their communities. I worked with another summer intern to prepare and deliver a presentation to youth and adults. As a teenager, I had never been empowered with that that kind of responsibility. It would be the only trip I ever took for Street Law, but it was most memorable and rewarding.
I love to tell people that Street Law is where I found my passion for meeting and event planning and executive support to organizations in my community. I now support the President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Urban League and I am in the process of starting my very own corporate meeting and event planning business.
Deborah taught me to never stop dreaming and to never stop striving to achieve my goals. She always said that if I make a list of small goals, I could accomplish those in order to reach the larger ones. The encouragement and support I received from her and all the staff at Street Law helps me move forward everyday with the hope of learning something new and accomplishing all my goals.
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(Reproduced with permission)
Topic: Youth Advocacy