Ms. JD has awarded Fellowships to 10 law students. Fellows were selected based on their academic performance, leadership, and dedication to advancing the status of women in the profession. The winners reflect a full range of diverse interests and backgrounds, with women pursuing opportunities in public interest, academia, and private sector in every region of the country.
The 2018 Ms. JD Fellowship Winners are:
Tristin Brown, Georgetown University Law Center
Irene Castro, CUNY School of Law
Janae Camilla Cummings, Brooklyn Law School
Hailey Hughes, SMU Dedman School of Law
Mackenzie Koppenhofer, Penn State Law
Kanysha Phillips, Howard University School of Law
Yessica Pinales, St. John's University School of Law
Erika Simonson, Syracuse University College of Law
Jessica Skocik, Notre Dame Law School
Brielle Tucker, Stetson University College of Law
Participating mentors include:
- Laurel Bellows
- Sheila Birnbaum
- Alan Bryan
- Michele Coleman Mayes
- Lt. Gen. Flora Darpino
- Marcia Greenberger
- Wendi Lazar
- Roberta Liebenberg
- The Honorable Judge Delissa Ridgway
- The Honorable Justice Peggy Quince
Please join us in congratulating Ms. JD's 2018 Fellows!
2018 ms. JD fellows
Originally from Miami, FL, Tristin Brown is a third-year law student at Georgetown University Law Center. She graduated with honors from The Florida A&M University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Public Relations. While attending Florida A&M University, Tristin was a radio personality on WANM 90.5 FM, the weather anchor for FAMU TV-20, and a Presidential Ambassador. She also interned for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. After undergrad, Tristin spent a year working as a staffer for former U.S. congresswoman Gwen Graham. These experiences shaped Tristin's passion about election law and served as her motivation to pursue a career in the legal industry.
At Georgetown, Tristin serves as the president of the Black Law Students Association, is on the editorial board of the Georgetown Law Journal of Modern Critical Race Perspectives, and is a public interest fellow and student ambassador. This summer, she is working in Washington, DC as a summer associate in the political law group of Perkins Coie. Tristin has also externed at Advancement Project and the Federal Election Commission. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to podcasts (mainly, The Read) and binge watching Netflix programs with her dog, Fluffy.
Irene Castro is a rising third-year law student at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law. She is Dominican-American and a native New Yorker, born and raised in Queens. Irene holds a Master’s in Public Service Management (MPA) from the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at The City College of New York, and has an interest in government and policy issues, such as education. Prior to starting at the CUNY School of law, Irene lived in Washington, D.C. and worked at the Department of Justice, in Congress, and in legal services.
Irene is passionate about community service and is actively involved in mentoring high school students and serving underserved communities. Irene is also strongly interested in women’s rights and helping women run for office. She has participated in various leadership programs such as WeLead at the Women & Politics Institute at American University and the Mujeres de HACE Washington, D.C. 2016 cohort.
On campus, Irene was elected as a 3L Representative in student government and is active in various organizations such as MetroLALSA and the National Black Law Students Organization. After law school, Irene wants to join the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps to combine her interest of law and government to serve her country. Irene is passionate about criminal justice reform. She aspires to become a criminal court judge.
When Irene is not studying or volunteering, she likes to read, play sports, and sightsee around the city.
Janae Camilla Cummings
Janaé Cummings graduated from Adelphi University with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies and a minor in Sociology. Prior to law school, she taught English in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. As a student at Brooklyn Law School, Janaé served as the Attorney General for the Black Law Students Association, is the current Executive Articles Editor of the Brooklyn Journal of International Law, volunteers for the Immigration Visa Assistance Program and is a Barbri Representative.
During the summer of her first year of law school, Janaé was awarded a fellowship by the New York State Bar Association to clerk for Judge O. Peter Sherwood in the New York State Supreme Court Commercial and Federal Litigation Division. She has also worked in the General Counsel’s Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, American Express and is currently an intern at Thomson Reuters. Janaé also participated in study abroad programs in both Bologna, Italy and Beijing, China, where she took classes ranging from international commercial arbitration to refugee law. She will be returning to her previous position as Labor and Employment/ Production Risk intern for Viacom Media Networks in the Fall.
Hailey Hughes is a 3L at SMU Dedman School of Law and has greatly enjoyed her law school experience and the opportunities it has provided her. She is involved at her university as a Case Note and Comment Editor for the International Law Review Association, as a Student Bar Association mentor, an academic success mentor, and as Student Director of the LRWA brief writing committee. In the Dallas community, she has been able to represent SMU as student liaison for the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and in the Dallas Women Lawyers Association leadership class, and she is very excited to build upon the nation-wide relationships and leadership skills she developed at the Ms. JD Leadership Academy in 2017 during her 2018 Ms. JD Fellowship! In her free time, Hailey enjoys traveling, movies, and spending time with friends and family (including pets).
Mackenzie Koppenhofer is a rising third year law student at Penn State Law. Originally from North Carolina, Mackenzie earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a counsel for the Student Attorney General's Staff at UNC, Mackenzie was able to act as a "lawyer" for students accused of Honor Code violations while in classes at UNC. Through this role, Mackenzie realized her passion for helping those accused of offenses by an institution.
Throughout law school, Mackenzie has focused her studies on criminal law, and hopes to be a public defender when she graduates. To achieve this goal, Mackenzie has interned at both the state and federal levels in public defense offices in Portland, Oregon. When not in class, Mackenzie likes to stay involved in her law school community through extracurricular activities. During her 3L year, Mackenzie will serve as the Chair of the 1L Mock Trial Committee for Penn State Law's SBA; the Vice Chair of Recruitment on the Penn State Moot Court Executive Board; an Honor Code Representative for SBA; the Vice President of the Criminal Law Society; and the Chair of the Live Auction Committee for the Public Interest Law Fund at Penn State Law.
Kanysha Phillips is a rising 3L at Howard University School of Law. She is a first generation law student from Philadelphia, PA. Kanysha attended La Salle University for undergraduate degree and double majored in Economics and Political Science. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (A.K.A).
Kanysha serves as a senior editor for the Howard Human and Civil Rights Law Review. She has had several internships, including volunteering for the 2012 Obama Campaign, interning with the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office in 2014, and clerking with the New York State Attorney General's Office in 2017. This summer, Kanysha will be clerking at the firm Davis Polk and Wardwell LLP. She plans to return to Davis Polk after graduation.
Yessica Pinales is a third-year student at St. John’s University School of Law, and she serves as the 2018 National Chair of the National Latina/o Law Student Association (NLLSA). In 2017, Yessica proactively competed in the Annual NLLSA Moot Court Competition. She currently fulfills the role of the Moot Court Coordinator for Latin American Law Student Association and is a Senior Staff Member for the New York Real Property Law Journal. Yessica began law school as a part-time evening student while working full-time in consumer banking at Bank of America in New York. During her six-year tenure with the Bank, Yessica managed various bank employees and served as one of the youngest female leaders in the company. At the Bank, Yessica was very involved in employee networks that provided opportunities for education, mentoring and community involvement for women and employees of color. She sat on the leadership board of the Bank’s Hispanic/Latino Employee Network group where she championed and advocated for employees and client’s diversity initiatives.
Yessica received her Bachelor of Arts from the University at Albany where she was named a Scholar of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Though Yessica was raised in Brooklyn, NY, she takes pride in the cultural values of her native homeland, the Dominican Republic. Bilingual in English and Spanish, Yessica continues to devote her time to support and improve access and retention of underrepresented students. Outside of school and work, she enjoys traveling, playing sports, and is currently training to run the 2018 NYC Marathon.
Originally from Dallas, Texas, Erika Simonson is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated magna cum laude from Texas Christian University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communication. While at TCU, Erika interned for the U.S. House of Representatives and competed on the TCU Speech and Debate Team.
At Syracuse Law, Erika is the Executive President of the Student Bar Association, an Associate Note Editor for the Syracuse Law Review, and a competition director for the Advocacy Honor Society. Erika represented Syracuse Law in both the National Moot Court Competition and the Duberstein Bankruptcy Competition. She received the Judge Mae D’Agostino Models of Excellence in Advocacy Scholarship. Erika is a member of Outlaw and the Syracuse Women’s Law Student Association. During her 2L year, Erika worked as a Research Assistant to Professor Antonio Gidi.
After her 1L year, Erika interned in the legal department at State Street Global Advisors in London, England. This last summer, Erika worked as a Summer Associate at Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP in their New York City office. Erika is passionate about mental health and wellness. She has fundraised for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and began mental health initiatives at Syracuse Law. In her free time, Erika enjoys visiting art museums, watching sports, and playing with her dogs.
Jessica Skocik is a third-year law student at Notre Dame Law School pursing a program of study in Global Law. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Science in Crime, Law, and Justice and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Penn State University where she graduated as a Schreyer Honors Scholar with highest distinction. At Notre Dame, Jessica is as an Article Submissions Editor on the Journal of International and Comparative Law and a Center for Civil and Human Rights Fellow. Formerly, she served as President of the International Human Rights Society and competed as a Barrister on the Notre Dame Moot Court Trial Team. Before devoting her time fully to legal study, Jessica served as an English Teaching Assistant at a secondary school in Johor, Malaysia as a member of the 2014 Fulbright Program and served her community in St. Louis, Missouri as an Adolescent Care Specialist working with adjudicated youth in court ordered, offense-specific residential treatment.
Jessica spent her free time serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and running short and long course races with her mom. Jessica’s experience working abroad and dedication to social justice have enriched her legal education and inspired her to pursue a career in human trafficking and human rights law. After her first year, Jessica served as a Law Clerk for the Community Activism Law Alliance in Chicago, Illinois where she assisted clients on immigration related issues and currently works as Legal Intern at the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division in the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. Jessica will continue her work with vulnerable populations as a Douglass Fellow with the Human Trafficking Institute and a Legal Extern with the National Immigrant Justice Center this fall. Jessica’s passion for human rights is equaled only by her love of hot chocolate, world travel, and trying new recipes!
As a Washington, D.C. native, Brielle Tucker is a third-year student at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, FL. While at Stetson, Brielle is a member of the nationally ranked Stetson Trial Team and Moot Court Board, placing as a regional finalist in the 2018 ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition. Currently, she is a Stetson Ambassador, and has served as a representative on the Student Bar Association, and Sub-Regional Director of the Southern Region Black Law Students’ Association. Last summer, Brielle worked as a Law Clerk for Smith, King and Thompson, P.A. in Tampa, FL, and has also served as a Judicial Intern for The Honorable, Charlene E. Honeywell, United States District Judge. This summer, Brielle is a Summer Associate at Bush Ross, P.A. in Tampa.
Brielle is an alumna of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and graduated cum laude from The University of Tampa with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology and two minors - Law & Justice and Speech. While at The University of Tampa, she was in the Honors Program, served on the Executive Board of the Tau Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, a member of the UT Conduct Board, a Gateways mentor, and a Speech tutor. She frequently volunteered at Metropolitan Ministries, the local Boys and Girls Club, and also tutored students at an afterschool enrichment camp. Brielle’s interest in the law sparked during her participation in her Appellate Advocacy course where she competed regionally through the American Collegiate Moot Court Association. In addition, she was an undergraduate member of the Bruce Jacobs Criminal Appellate Inn of Court, and a congressional intern on Capitol Hill during high school.
Mentorship has always been central to Brielle’s upbringing. As a child, no matter what new project or interest she wanted to try, her grandmother would always say, “don’t be afraid to ask for help.” As a proud new Ms. JD Fellow, Brielle hopes to continue to foster a sense of support among women within the legal profession. Outside of work and school, she enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to podcasts.