2024 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 2024 Summer Fellows

Dernio Jean Baptiste Desauguste is an LLM. Student at the University of Dayton School of Law. He is a lawyer registered at the Port-au-Prince Bar Association with over 18 years of experience in the general practice of law, and a former counselor at the Port-au-Prince Bar Association for 4 years (Sep 2015- Jan 2020). He is a human rights advocate with experience in defense of victims of sexual harassment and the fight against corruption. He is a member of the National Committee for anti-human Traffic in Haiti. He is also a legal adviser at the Organization of Citizens for a New Haiti (OCNH). He has helped as a supervisor of young lawyers in the program of legal assistance of the Port au Prince Bar Association. Dernio is a soccer lover, and his favorite hobbies are the beach and traveling.

I’m a passionate advocate for civil rights, born and raised in Eupora, Mississippi. Witnessing many racial injustices firsthand, I vowed to make a difference. I graduated from Jackson State University with a major in political science and a minor in Spanish. I served in the Army National Guard for six years and worked as a Mississippi state legislative aide, a research assistant for Ms Court of Appeals, and as a congressional aide for the Louisiana Black Caucus. Currently, I’m a non-traditional student in my third year of law school at Southern University Law Center, committed to using my legal education to continue fighting for justice and equality.

My name is Gina and I am currently a 2L at Roger Williams University School of Law. Before arriving in Rhode Island, I lived in Manhattan, New York for college. I attended CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice for my undergraduate degree. I graduated magna cum laude with a major in Political Science and a minor in English. While I was there I took part in the CUNY BMI Rising Scholars of Justice Program, which is a pre-law program that helped me get here.

My passion is criminal defense, and this coming school year I will be taking part in the Criminal Defense Clinic at my school. There, I will have my own caseload and clients while working under a supervising attorney. I believe in checks and balances between the government and the people. My main reason for pursuing a law degree is to ensure that justice is being properly served on both sides of the scale in the criminal justice system.

This summer I am excited to join the Law Office of the Montgomery County Public Defender, where I plan to further my commitment to defending the rights of the marginalized and underserved.

Raised in Pomfret, Maryland, with roots extending to Mobile, Alabama, Jamarr-Joshua Johnson is a first-generation college student. He is a part of the first Bachelor of Art to Juris Doctor inaugural joint degree program cohort at Howard University. He is on track to receive his B.A. in Philosophy from Howard University in May 2024, while concurrently advancing through his first year at Howard University School of Law.

Jamarr-Joshua has aspirations of practicing law to aid marginalized communities who are disadvantaged and underserved, he envisions a career in law as a means to uplift marginalized communities.

With a firm commitment to social justice, he aspires to specialize as a Public Defender, standing as a voice for those who may have faltered along life’s journey to ensure every individual is afforded their rights and dignity.

Aaron Manzy, a rising second-year law student at the Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, originates from Athens, Georgia, and holds a degree from the
University of West Georgia. With a fervent aspiration to disrupt the norms of the American justice system, he aims to forge a career as a criminal defense attorney. Aaron is a proud member
of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., finding strength and camaraderie within. Guided by the adage “He who has the gold makes the rules,” he embodies tenacity and resolve, poised to make a lasting impact on the legal sphere. Aaron is enthusiastic about his involvement in the Black Public Defender Association Legal Fellowship, viewing it as a pivotal opportunity for his legal education and personal growth.

Amalie Moore is a 2L at Vanderbilt Law School. She graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2021 with a degree in Human and Organizational Development. From Little Rock, Arkansas, she has always had a passion for community service and building community. She plans on starting her law career as a public defender in Nashville, Tennessee.

ShoMari Payne is a native of Dayton, Ohio. He is a rising 2L law student at Chase College of Law and PhD student at Miami University. He previously served as a highschool teacher, is a TEDx Speaker, and the founder of the Rust Belt Neighborhood Development Corporation. He earned his MBA at Miami University in 2019 and is passionate about human rights, social justice, affordable housing, urban education, and community health & wellness.

Since the age of 8, I was determined to become an attorney. I joined the U.S. Navy and became a military police officer in order to learn and understand police work and discipline. I obtained my A.S. Degree in Paralegal Studies and my B.S. Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources. I am a 3L at Southern University Law Center pursuing my dream of becoming an attorney to impact my generation.

The opportunity to be a BPDA law clerk will allow me to help those who are unable to advocate for themselves in order to bring equal justice. I look forward to gaining a new skillset while enhancing the skillset that I already have through the leadership of my supervising Attorney and colleagues. I am grateful to be a small piece of someone’s life by advocating in this way to bring them justice.

Christopher Scott is a first-generation college graduate and law student from Third Ward, Houston, Texas. As a legal scholar, he focuses on Anti-Blackness, dehumanization, and the exploitation of marginalized groups through the American legal system. His scholarship and research have led him to countries such as England, France, Cambodia, Ghana, and the Netherlands. In addition, he has participated in discussions on the plight of African Americans and reparations for African Americans at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Professionally, prior to attending law school, Christopher was a legal staffer and adjunct professor in the social science department, where he instructed both American Government and Humanities courses. He also served as a research assistant for a watchdog NGO to monitor the mismanagement of government funding for large corporations to hire low-income workers. As a law student at Howard University School of Law, Christopher spends time organizing around issues such as student accommodations, accessibility, and disability justice through the Atypical Law Students’ Organization (ALSO), which he co-founded.

During his legal matriculation, Christopher served on several boards, such as the National Disabled Law Students Association (NDLSA), where he served as the Fundraising Chair, and Warner Music Group’s HBCU Advisory Board for the HBCU Intensive Program. Christopher’s interest in Public Defence centers around racial justice and a commitment to uplifting marginalized communities.

I am Ronisha Woody, a native of Memphis, TN, and a rising 3L Southern University Law Center (SULC). My journey to my legal career commenced at Alcorn State University, where I graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, with a concentration of Pre-Law.

Presently, I currently serve as the Treasurer of SULC’s Black Law Student Association (BLSA). I also actively participate as a  member of both Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity and the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA). Through these affiliations, I engage with peers and professionals to enrich my legal knowledge and broaden my professional network.

Driven by a deep commitment to public service, I have dedicated my time and effort to Southeast Louisiana Legal Services as a Housing Unit Law Clerk as well as the East Baton Rouge Parish Office Of Public Defenders. My passions lies in the areas of law where I can make a substantial difference in the lives of others. Particularly, in civil rights law and criminal defense work where I aspire to advocate tirelessly for those who need it most. Upon graduation, my aspiration is to dedicate my legal career toward creating a significant, positive impact on the lives of others.