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Alumni Spotlight: Reaching Out With Street Law

Alumni Spotlight: Reaching Out With Street Law

NCCU School of Law's Hugh Hudson (left) with his former Street Law teacher, NCCU Law alumnus Jesse McCoy. (Photo Credit: E. Page Potter)

You never know how you are going to touch someone’s life and how you may affect their future. Jesse McCoy ’08 and Tanisha Chapman McCoy’08 had no inkling of the impact they would have on students in the classes they taught at Riverside High School in Fall 2007 as part of Professor Page Potter’s Street Law course. This spring, Hugh Hudson, one of the high school students from Jesse and Tanisha’s Street Law classes, completed his 1L year at North Carolina Central School of Law (NCCU)—as a direct result, he says, of the two law students who came to his high school class all those years ago.

In Street Law, offered at NCCU Law since 2002, law students are paired with a middle or high school social studies teacher in one of Durham’s public schools. After learning the rudiments of lesson planning and instruction, law students teach the middle or high school students classes on topics such as the court system, the criminal trial process, and the Bill of Rights. Teaching Street Law sharpens law students’ public speaking and presentation skills and hones the ability to break down legal concepts and communicate them in terms that 10th graders can readily understand. Street Law students also help make the law real and relevant to high school students and serve as role models and ambassadors for the legal profession.

Hugh credits the seeds planted by Tanisha and Jesse with giving him the motivation to work hard and achieve academic success and later, to apply to law school. Following high school graduation in 2008, Hugh Hudson enrolled at NCCU, graduating with a degree in Sports Management with a Business minor in December 2012 and matriculating at NCCU Law School in Fall 2013. This semester, remembering what had inspired him, Hugh spent one afternoon a week at Neal Middle School with other NCCU Law Citizen Schools volunteers, teaching mock trial skills to 6th graders.

Jesse and Tanisha were excited to learn about Hugh’s career and accomplishments subsequent to Riverside. Jesse states, “I am amazed to see the fruits of our efforts to inform young people about the need for attorneys and laws. I understand what it takes to survive and succeed as an African-American male from Durham County, and I could not be more proud to see that success embodied in Mr. Hudson. Further, I was delighted to learn that Mr. Hudson is currently going back to Neal Middle School to expose tomorrow’s generation to the law.”

Hugh remembers, “The class was instructed on many different areas of the law and how impactful it could be to know the law. The class engaged in numerous mock trials and imitations of court proceedings. As a high school student, with uncertain aspiration, I was able to obtain insightful information from these sessions and subsequently, an interest in the law. All in all, the experience of having Jesse and Tanisha visit my high school class has contributed immensely to my chosen career path and most importantly, the determined person I am today.”

Tanisha and Jesse are very proud of Mr. Hudson. Tanisha goes on to say, “I was happy to hear about his story and his matriculation into NCCU Law. I have no doubt that he has the ability to become a great legal mind. This is an enormously proud moment for me because it is the exact reason I applied to law school. In my personal statement for admission to NCCU School of Law, I wrote that I never aspired to be the next Johnnie Cochran, but I desired to teach the next great legal mind.”

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Source: Of Counsel, the Alumni Magazine of North Carolina Central School of Law (Reproduced with permission)

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Topic: Civic & Law-Related Education

Topic: Diversity

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