The RHLS extends a warm welcome to Martin Luther King, Jr. Intern, Jessica Maharaj. Jessica will be joining RHLS through the summer as a part of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Internship & Fellowship Program, which offers second and third year law students the opportunity to intern at PLAN programs across the Commonwealth. Jessica introduces herself in her own words below:
My name is Jessica Maharaj. I am a rising 3L at the University of Iowa College of Law. I was raised in Savannah, Georgia but received nearly all of my higher education in the Midwest. I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2017. While there, I minored in Community Action and Social Change, a program in the School of Social Work. Through this program, I was able to learn more about social justice issues and how community members can provoke change. I became increasingly self-aware of the potential impact I could have in bringing about social change as a lawyer in the future.
My experiences led me to spend my gap year serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in the Office of Family and Community Engagement at the School District of Philadelphia. It was there that I further realized my purpose as well as my passion for public interest law. In my role at the School District of Philadelphia, I was able to interact with and assist people from all walks of life. My office was the first point of contact for family members who needed services from the School District or assistance with any of their child’s school-related matters. My office was often the liaison between the School District and immigrant or refugee families as well.
Through this role, I learned that I enjoyed working with diverse populations and advocating for under-served populations. I am also interested in working to resolve issues common in urban areas. I am excited to be working as a Martin Luther King, Jr. scholar at Regional Housing Legal Services. I see this as an opportunity to develop my legal research skills and gain more exposure to policy work. I hope to learn more about the development of affordable, sustainable housing in urban areas and how affordable housing development and neighborhood revitalization projects can create economic opportunity in under-served communities.
We’re happy to have you this summer, Jessica!