Earlier this week, LAF’s own Dennericka Brooks received the St. Robert Bellarmine Award from her alma mater, the Loyola University School of Law. You can read a little more about the award and Dennericka’s great work in our previous blog post, Staff Successes! We just wanted to share the incredible acceptance speech she gave to everyone present, including fellow LAF staff pictured here, Rich Wheelock, Meghan Carter, Julie Harcum, and Tim Hufman, who were there to support her and cheer her on.
You can read her whole speech below:
“I view the work that I have done as the result of God’s grace placing me at institutions and surrounding me with people that inspire and encourage me to help others every day.
When I studied at the [Loyola University] law school, I was blessed enough to be awarded a child law fellowship. I was a member of, in my biased opinion, one of the greatest classes. When we wanted to study juvenile justice issues abroad in Tanzania, the law school didn’t push us away or say that that type of program had never been done. Instead, Diane Geraghty, Professor Kaufman, and Dean Jean worked with us to create a family law study abroad program that continues to this day.
As a student, when I discovered my passion for trial advocacy, it was my fellow student, best friend, and roommate, Ashley Nall, who joined the team at the last minute (in exchange for my promising to cook dinner for a semester) so that I could accomplish my goal and compete in the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial team – a team that the school allows me to continue coaching to this day.
When I searched for a job my third year, it was Stacy Platt that encouraged me to apply for a position at LAF. Again, it was the grace of God that led to me to get hired into an agency that is truly committed to helping the impoverished and vulnerable.
When our agency had to close our neighborhood offices, in part due to the funding crises, LAF allowed me to manage a legal clinic on the south side – where I met another Geraghty (Professor Geraghty’s daughter Annie), whom I’ve worked with for three years to get large law firms and other pro bono attorneys to practice in poverty law.
My work is so rewarding. There is nothing like knowing that the work that you do is truly changing someone’s life – by saving a family from homelessness, or saving a victim of domestic violence. But it’s not just the work that I do, but the people that I work with. My co-workers, especially Meghan Carter and Julie Harcum, inspire me and push me to be a fierce and fearless advocate. We strive to provide equal access to justice and we fight hard to do what’s right – what’s just.
So with that, thank you for this award. It says so much more about the people that I work with and the institution that molded me than it does about me.
In honor of Saint Robert Bellarmine, a great theologian, scholar, and catechist, I invite you to also seek to help others in word and in deeds. I guarantee that externally, you will see just how small efforts like writing a letter or making a phone call can change a life. Internally, you will never be the same.”
Congratulations, Dennericka! You make LAF proud!
If you’re interested in that legal clinic on the south side or other pro bono opportunities, please sign up on our website here.