Melissa Wilkie (Class of 2004)
Through my clinic at Catholic Charities I learned the type of law that I wanted to practice. The Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services at Catholic Charities made me realize that one can help many with a law degree. I worked in Immigration Services helping with a wide range of immigration legal work.
Even though the internship had ended in April I stayed on as a volunteer because I enjoyed helping the clients so much and enjoyed working with people, that I worked with. I soon took on more responsibility at Catholic Charities, gaining my own clients with the supervision of an attorney. I also helped to fill out forms and make sure that everything was there that needed to be in order for the form to be sent into United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
This year in continuing my volunteering, I helped to train the new pro bono attorneys and the new interns. I also helped with a new walk in clinic that was offered. Since Catholic Charities is short staffed they cannot take on as many clients as other not for profit organizations. This is where the walk in clinic helps indigent immigrants. Every Wednesday and every third Saturday a person can come to the walk in clinic to receive help with filling out forms or to have a half hour consultation with the attorney.
The only requirement is that the person be 200% above the poverty line. This ensures that those that need this service get the service over others that can afford other places to go.
Through my work at Catholic Charities I have had help in trying to get a fellowship. If I am accepted, through the fellowship I can still work for Catholic Charities in a different location. This would mean gaining more clients and also teaching immigrants about different benefits that they would receive.
I was allowed to attend trainings that would have cost too much money for me to normally attend. The two trainings were on Violence Against Womens Act and Trafficking. Both will be beneficial to me when I leave law school.
In my third year of law school I decided that I would rather keep my job as a shop clerk and not get paid anything in order to help out those at Catholic Charities and to help the immigrants that come in. When a client receives an approved asylum application or becomes a citizen it puts joy in my heart, especially with the sad stories that I hear every day.