2022 Summer Fellowship Class

2022 BPDA Summer Fellowship Class

About the BPDA Summer Fellowship Program

One of the central goals of BPDA’s Law School Engagement Committee is to provide resources that ensure that Black law students are able to access and succeed in public defense as a profession that empowers marginalized communities. Each year, the Committee selects a number of promising Black law students to serve as BPDA Summer Fellows. Each Fellow receives mentorship, intensive skills training, and financial support that enables them to successfully complete an unpaid summer internship at a public defender office and be well positioned for post-graduate employment.

Our fellowship program is made possible by the financial contributions of our members and supporters!

Meet the 2022 Summer Fellows

Don Arrington is a rising 2L, a Rubin-Presser Social Justice Fellow, a Beasley Scholar, a Weisman Family Fellow, and a 2022 Law and Public Policy Scholar at Temple University Beasley School of Law. During his 1L year, he served as the 1L Representative for the National Lawyers Guild’s Pardons Clinic.

He graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Northridge in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Cinema and Television Arts. He came to law school with a background in community organizing, having worked to address various social issues including access to housing, food equity, prisoner support, income inequality, and systemic racism. Before coming to Temple, he worked as a tutor and mentor assisting first-generation students with navigating the college admissions process through Upward Bound. 

Don is dedicated to indigent defense and is honored and humbled to be part of the BPDA community. As a BPDA Fellow, he looks forward to learning, growing, and becoming the best advocate possible to keep people out of cages. This summer, Don is working as a law clerk at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia in their Appellate Division.

Caleesha U. Body, born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, is a rising third-year student at Emory University School of Law. Caleesha graduated magna cum laude from Hampton University with a B.A. in Psychology, on the Pre-Law track. Driven by a deep-rooted passion for child and family advocacy, she has dedicated years of service to the Juvenile Court of Memphis & Shelby County with the Office of Advocate for Noncustodial Parents and the Foster Care Review Board. She has maintained her commitment by serving as a Judicial Intern under the Honorable Magistrate Judge Carlyn Addison (Memphis & Shelby County) and Judge Alison Toller (Hall County Juvenile Court).

During her second year of law school, Caleesha served as a student clinician with the Barton Child Law and Policy Center Legislative Advocacy Clinic. Additionally, she has held positions as 1L Representative and President of the Child, Family, and Elder Law Society. She has been an active member of the Black Law Students Association, OUTLaw, Emory Public Service Interest Committee, and the Emory Entertainment Alliance. This summer, Ms. Body will intern with the DeKalb County Public Defender’s Office, Juvenile Division in Atlanta, Georgia. When she completes the requirements for obtaining her Juris Doctorate, she plans to practice in the fields of child, family, and criminal law.

Corey Evans is currently a rising 2L at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

He graduated from Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. While in undergrad, he served as the Chair of Membership for the NAACP chapter at SCSU. He came to law school with a background in community organizing, having worked as the Campaign Manager for Brackeen for New Haven where he led fundraising efforts and oversaw outreach to a community of ~1500 voters.

He also served as an Assistant Campaign Manager for the Farmer for Fifth program in Hamden, CT. In that role, he oversaw the entire political campaign’s operations including research, volunteer recruitment, public relations, and budgeting. He successfully managed a volunteer voter outreach team that generated the highest voter turnout in the city.

Corey is excited to be the inaugural BPDA Fellow in Connecticut, thanks to the generous commitment and donation from the law firm of Shipman & Goodwin. He looks forward to learning, growing, and becoming the best advocate possible to save lives. This summer, Corey is working as a law clerk at the Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services in Hartford, CT.

Originally from Houston, Texas, Jessica Nelson earned a B.A. from Smith College in 2019, where she majored in Psychology and concentrated on Community Engagement and Social Change. Upon graduation from Smith College, she served as a Lead for America fellow working for the City of Jackson, Mississippi on special grant projects for organizations like the Kellogg Foundation and the Aspen Institute.

Jessica served as an enlisted member in the Marine Corps from 2012-2018. While in the military, she served as a Geospatial Analyst and Reserve Intelligence Chief in South Korea, Okinawa, and Kuwait. Jessica also served as a humanities fellow for three summers with Warrior-Scholar Project, assisting active-duty service members and veterans in their transition to higher education.

Prior to attending law school, she had the opportunity to work with SEO as a Fellow which introduced her to different applications of the law. Jessica is currently attending The University of Michigan Law School with plans to continue a career in public service supporting minority communities. This summer, she will be working at Neighborhood Defender Service in Detroit, Michigan.

Jace Peterkin is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and a rising 2L at The University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

He is the current president of the Black Law Students Association, law student member of the National Bar Association and Black Men Lawyers’ Association, and a public speaker.

In his free time, he loves to travel, cook, and hang out with his godchildren at the local library (when time permits).

He hopes to use his legal knowledge to give back to minorities that need legal support. This summer, Jace will be working at the Office of the Federal Public Defender, Western District of Pennsylvania.

Nacirema Ulysse graduated from Northeastern University with a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and Psychology and is currently a rising 2L at Howard University School of Law.

Before attending law school, Nacirema interned at a small general law firm in College Park, GA and is a continuing volunteer at a Jonesboro, GA based non-profit dedicated to helping those in need in the local community.

Nacirema’s passion and drive for attending law school is in dissolving the innate racism that exists in U.S governmental systems and hopes to achieve this by embarking on a career in public defense. During her time in public defense, Nacirema wants to be a strong and empathic advocate for silenced Black voices and bring attention to the racial inequities in the law in the hopes to one day change them.

This summer, she will be working at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia in their Juvenile Division.