My name is Iman Woodyard and I am a rising third-year law student at Penn State Dickinson Law. Being born and raised in Central Pennsylvania, I wanted to return back to further my education after obtaining my undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, in order to develop and foster connections within the community I call home. I want to become a lawyer to pursue my overall interest in achieving social justice, finding ways to eliminate oppressive societal forces that remain intact for vulnerable populations, with a more specific mission to advocate on behalf of minorities and low-income communities. My drive to becoming a legal advocate has always been fueled by and geared toward working in the public interest field because I have sense of purpose in serving others. It is my “why” in life and what I feel like I am ultimately placed on this earth to do.
I am honored to have been selected as an intern for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Internship program this Summer. I am grateful for the opportunity to cultivate my skills and obtain knowledge in a program that has a focus on achieving socio-economic equality through legal means while also enhancing cultural and ethnic diversity in the legal field. As an African American woman, I am all too familiar with the difficulty of navigating society with intersectional forces that come down upon me, so I am personally invested in the progressive fight of increasing structural power for the marginalized. I am looking forward to developing in an environment that is inclusive and aware of the areas that have been historically oppressive to underrepresented communities.
More specifically, I am particularly looking forward to working with the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project because I have an interest in experiencing how advocacy through policy works. I have gained prior experience with direct client representation in my time through law school so far, interning at MidPenn Legal Services – York and as a Certified Legal Intern at my school’s Community Law Clinic, but I also wanted to view how low-income individual concerns are addressed in on a legislative and administrative level. Energy and utility law are specialized areas that can be an immense burden on those living in poverty, as housing in general is an important but potentially costly expense. I am eager to learn the different avenues that are available to advocate for and assist low-income consumers in Pennsylvania.
My passion about shaping the legal and social fabric of my community in Pennsylvania comes from learning from my education, hands-on experience, and hearing stories from friends and family how desperately it needs to change. With the impact of COVID-19, many of the inequalities that have long existed are now being greatly exposed, and it is those who are low-income, those living in poverty, and minority communities who are dealing with the ever-lasting negative impacts the most. I wanted to dedicate my legal career, in whatever capacity that I am blessed to operate in, to making sure that I am giving a sense of recognition to those who do not usually receive it, because their livelihood depends on it.