Paralegal Program Celebrates 4th Graduation
Twelve returning citizens graduated from the MORCA-Georgetown Paralegal Program on Sept. 27, earning a certificate in Paralegal Studies and walking across the graduation stage in cap and gown at Georgetown Law.
The students completed 24 weeks of intensive classes to build their legal knowledge and technical skills. They are the fourth cohort to graduate from the program, which is specifically designed to empower aspiring paralegals who have previously been incarcerated.
“I am proud to be standing on the shoulders of those who have come before us,” graduate Andre Pendleton said at the ceremony. “My time in this program was remarkable. It has been nurturing to be in an environment where the entire staff is committed to promoting trust and empowering the lives of returning citizens.”
Pendleton said that he came into the program after being denied a job because of the results of a background check. Pendleton’s experience spoke to the purpose of the program: To support formerly incarcerated people in overcoming barriers to employment.
This is the first year that the program has partnered with Georgetown Law to offer the Paralegal Studies certificate, which also created new opportunities for the Fellows like their final moot court capstone at the Supreme Court Institute.
“My classmates and I are blessed and thankful to be the first cohort of this program to graduate under the Georgetown Law umbrella,” said graduate Dee Farmer, an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community who hopes to go to law school.
Program Faculty Director Suzanne Tsintolas said that with the education and preparation they gained through the program, the graduates are ready to stand confidently alongside any attorney and in any courtroom or law office.
“In this program each student brought to the classroom their unique perspective, intellect, and sense of humor,” she said. “They began as strangers but 22 weeks later they grew separately through their educational experiences and they grew together as colleagues, equals in their mission to conquer this thing we call the law.”
The program has now graduated a total of 47 Fellows, many of whom have gone on to work in full-time legal support roles, including at the D.C. Office of the Attorney General, Legal Aid, WilmerHale, and Outten & Golden. As a partnership between Georgetown and the D.C. government, part of the program’s mission is to open doors for other returning citizens in the District.
“With your successes as you graduate and move on, it’s going to create more opportunities for individuals in other fields,” said Lamont Carey, director of the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs (MORCA). “We want you all to start lifting up the success stories so we can overshadow those negative images about what a returning citizen looks like and what they’re capable of.”
Watch the Graduation Ceremony
- Paralegal Program