DC Internship Confirms Undergraduate’s Career Path

Aspiring lawyer’s public defense efforts recognized with Washington Center Professional Growth Award

Because Suffolk student Jakira Rogers was immediately “thrown into the action” as an investigating intern at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, she never had time to get nervous about her new responsibilities.

“It was definitely the most hands-on and in-your-face experience that I could ever imagine,” she says of her four-month position in Washington, DC.

Interviewing clients, taking photos at crime scenes, canvassing neighborhoods, testifying in court, and handling mitigation work were just some of Rogers’ responsibilities.

“I was always out of the office working on different cases,” she says. “I learned how to multi-task and work at a high-speed pace.”

Accomplishments stand out

Rogers, a Suffolk Class of 2018 sociology major, is the latest recipient of The Washington Center’s Award for Professional Growth, an honor given each semester to a student who strives for and shows progress towards professional goals independently or through professional development activities.

“I’m thrilled that The Washington Center internship experience has been so transformative for Jakira,” says Christina Kulich-Vamvakas of the Government Department, who is the University’s liaison with The Washington Center. “I’m certain that she will continue along this trajectory of stellar personal and professional growth back home at Suffolk.”

As an intern, Rogers worked with a partner and two parole defense attorneys. The hands-on approach offered considerable knowledge about the field of law.

A taste of things to come

“It showed me what a real-world attorney’s life is like,” she says. “There’s so much involved in working a case from start to finish, and you have to be prepared for anything.”

A self-described shy person, Rogers believes that the internship helped improve her people and public speaking skills.

“It took me out of my comfort zone,” she says of her work with a clientele with a wide range of ages and criminal accusations. “The hardest part was meeting clients and their families. There is so much emotion involved. You have to remain strong and focused and not let it get to you.”

Rogers has long been interested in the law and would like to attend Suffolk Law School. Her positive experience in Washington confirmed her career path.

“The internship taught me a lot about myself,” she says. “Working with clients solidified that I want to be a defense attorney.”