Making an impact: Wayne Law student ­spearheads nonprofit QUAD Advising

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

After her first year of undergrad at the University of Michigan, where she earned a B.A. in political science, and Afroamerican & African Studies, Emphani Aldridge got her first introduction to the legal profession as an intern at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office.

“I had absolutely no legal experience prior to the Prosecutor’s office,” she says. “The Prosecutor’s Office was an exciting place. I enjoyed accompanying the prosecutors to court the most.”   

During her last year of undergrad, and with her sights set on law school, Aldridge clerked for Judge Darlene O’Brien at the Washtenaw County Trial Court.

“I admired Judge O’Brien’s ability to be fair, but compassionate,” she says. “I also met my first legal mentor while clerking there, Robyn Liddell, a prosecutor on a criminal sexual conduct case.”

Now a 2L student at Wayne State University Law School, Aldridge appreciates the relationships she has been able to develop with some of the faculty, and also enjoys her membership in the Black Law Students Association, Women’s Law Caucus, and First Generation Professionals.

“All of the organizations provide a sense of community and support for students,” she says. “Law school can be very isolating; it’s important for us, as students, to hold each up other up.”

Her recent experience as a summer associate at Dykema in Detroit entailed legal research and writing, and drafting legal documents; and she looks forward to returning there this coming summer.

“The attorneys were very hands-on and attentive to the summer associates,” she says. “I enjoyed working on assignments in many different areas of the law, and I appreciated Dykema’s commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout the firm.”

With a career goal of eventually making partner in the corporate group of a large Detroit-based law firm, Aldridge enjoys the niche of business and corporate law.

“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and when asked as a young girl what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always a lawyer,” she says. “I truly enjoy problem solving, which is essential in both business and law.”

Before heading to Wayne Law, Aldridge spent two years as a college adviser for University Prep Academy High School, through the Michigan College Advising Corps. She significantly increased college acceptance and enrollment rates and scholarship awards, coordinated programming for students across the state, and trained new advisers.

During her first year at UPA, her sister was a high school senior.

“I would work all day with my students, then go home to help my sister and her friends—that turned into me helping my sister’s friend’s friends,” she says. “It was very clear there was a need in our community for the kind of help I was providing.

“I loved being a college adviser, but I knew I couldn’t do that full time and be a full time, first-year law student. I tapped my close friend who was also serving as a college adviser and pursuing a law degree to start QUAD with me in the summer of 2016.”

The nonprofit QUAD College Advising works with high school and community ­partners in Wayne and Oakland County to maximize underserved high school students’ post-graduate success, through direct support and guidance with the college application, enrollment and matriculation process. As co-founder and chair, Aldridge leads the executive team and board of directors in furthering community impact, securing and maintaining ­partnerships, and developing the curriculum.

“I’m looking forward to our 2018 programming,” she says.

A Detroiter through and through, and an alumna of Renaissance High School, Aldridge sings the praises of the Motor City.

“There’s no place like Detroit,” she says. “Detroit is home. I love Detroit’s rich history. I love that Detroit is a place of endless opportunity. I love that Detroit never gives up.”

In her leisure time, she enjoys trying new restaurants, spending time with family, and traveling, with her favorites being Paris and Jamaica, where she spent a few weeks in undergrad studying under Dr. Nesha Haniff, professor of Women’s Studies and Afroamerican and African Studies at U-M. 

“We traveled the country teaching low-literate communities an HIV/AIDS module designed to empower them to become second-generation teachers and use the module to teach HIV prevention to their own communities,” Aldridge says. “Jamaica holds such a special place in my heart and it forever changed me.”

     

 

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