Editor's note: The State Bar hosted five interns this summer through the Center for Youth Development through Law program. This story about the program originally appeared on the UC Berkeley School of Law website and is republished here with permission.
Andrew Cohen, J.
Everywhere she turns this summer, Cali Luke encounters accomplished professionals "who are truly committed" to her educational and career development. For Luke and 37 other disadvantaged area high school students chosen for this year's Center for Youth Development through Law (CYDL) program, it's an eye-opening and often life-changing experience.
Four days a week, they work as paid interns for law offices, nonprofits, government departments and elected officials. Each Thursday, they come to Berkeley Law for classes that integrate a legal curriculum with life skills and leadership development activities.
"The teachers here are amazing," said Luke, a rising senior at El Cerrito High School. "They make the lesson plans so interesting and encourage us to actively take part in the discussions. When you see a teacher working hard to engage you, that's motivating."
Particularly when the topics and classroom approach are entirely new. In "Race, the Constitution and the Supreme Court"—taught by program alum and City of Berkeley attorney Palomar Sanchez—students review seminal cases and debate timely issues while learning how to craft effective arguments.
Discussing current events, including the recent incidents of police violence, allows students to "express anger and frustration about injustices, but also to learn how to analyze situations from a legal perspective—and to understand constructive tools and avenues for making positive change," said Nancy Schiff, CYDL's executive director.
An African American, Luke said "talking openly about the struggle that my generation and generations before have gone through is something I've never discussed in a class before." Learning about the Fourth Amendment has been "especially empowering. I always...