Student Spotlight



Four FAMU Law Students Awarded the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship

2022 Stevens Public Interest Fellows

Rattlers for Justice are passionate about using legal profession to help others

ORLANDO, Fla – Four Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law students are recipients of the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship. Alba Manuela Suarez, Jai’Ehir Jackson-Hawkins, Derrick Gaiter and Seana-Jahan La Coa received the monetary awards.

The program provides grants allowing students at participating law schools to work in unpaid public interest law positions during the summer.  As Rattlers for Justice, the FAMU Law recipients are deeply passionate about practicing law and making a difference.

 This opportunity is extra special for Alba Manuela Suarez who is from San Cristobal, Venezuela. The third-year law student has memories of how challenging the immigration system was for her family and friends. Suarez is dedicated to pursuing a career in law to make a difference in the public interest field.

 “I desire to become a lawyer because I want to assist those individuals that continue to be suppressed by our legal system,” said Suarez.  “I am determined to use my legal skills to fight for important matters and help those who would otherwise have little chance of succeeding in our judicial system due to lack of compassionate representation.” 

With the John Paul Stevens Fellowship, Suarez works with the Department of Children and Families where her passion for public interest law continues to grow.

The dream to become a lawyer started in the third grade for Jai’Ehir Jackson-Hawkins. The Wheeling, West Virginia native credits her teacher Barbara Brooks for igniting her passion for law.

“We had a career week where we researched careers and had a mock job fair where we were able to speak to different professionals about their careers,” said Jackson-Hawkins.  “During our silent reading time, my teacher provided me with books geared towards history and law. She also helped me research the steps necessary to become an attorney and motivated me to keep my grades up to do so.”

As a John Paul Stevens Fellow, Jackson-Hawkins is assigned to FAMU Law’s Legal Clinic where she works with the Virgil Hawkins Fellowship. “We are providing services to indigent clients in the areas of housing, family, and domestic violence. The program is designed to ensure access to the justice system for the underprivileged and disadvantaged,” said Jackson-Hawkins. “I am beyond grateful for this opportunity and appreciate the John Paul Stevens Foundation for providing the funding for me to complete this experience.” 

Derrick Gaiter is a third-year law student from Clearwater, Florida who also appreciates the opportunity to be a John Paul Stevens Fellow.

“Earning the John Paul Stevens Fellowship is a phenomenal investment in my legal career. I am beaming with Rattler pride,” said Gaiter.  “As a legal intern at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Federal Public Defender’s Office in the Southern District of Florida, I am receiving hands-on experience in the preparation of criminal cases in both state and federal court while being able to attend pre-file conferences, court hearings, jury and bench trials, and depositions.” Gaiter recalls always wanting to become a lawyer to ask the tough questions and help the underserved.

 Seana-Jahan La Coa is a third-year student from Palm Beach, Florida. “I am currently participating in the Guardian Ad Litem Legal Clinic, facilitated by College of Law professors,” said La Coa. “The John Paul Stevens Fellowship allows me to participate fully in the benefits of the legal clinic, specifically working closely with professors as I explore my passion for public interest work.”

FAMU Law students have embraced the label Rattlers for Justice because of their dedication to shaking up the status quo. “Our Rattlers for Justice are perfect for the John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship because they are using their legal skills to address institutional inequities and serve those too often excluded from or ignored by the legal system,” said FAMU Law Clinic Director Mark Dorosin.

In 2021, the John Paul Stevens Fellowship Foundation expanded the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship program in partnership with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with law schools. The partnership includes Florida A&M University College of Law, Howard University School of Law, North Carolina Central University School of Law, Southern University Law Center, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. 

These law schools are among the nation’s most diverse in terms of faculty and students. They are well-known for their commitment to public interest and preparing a diverse group of law students for leadership. 

The Paul Stevens Fellows from the HBCUs are committed, talented individuals who are working at a wide range of public interest organizations in both the public and nonprofit sectors this summer, and they join a national cohort of Stevens Fellows.



FAMU Law’s Michelle Wanamaker receives prestigious Holland & Knight Scholarship

Michelle Wanamaker

Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law student Michelle Wanamaker is the 2022 recipient of the prestigious Holland & Knight Scholarship and Internship. As the 2022-2023 Holland & Knight Scholar, Wanamaker will receive full in-state tuition and a summer associate position with the law firm.

“It is an honor to be named the Holland & Knight Scholar for 2022,” said Wanamaker, who will work out of the law firm’s Orlando office. “I am extremely grateful for this amazing opportunity.”

The Willingboro, New Jersey native is a mother and non-traditional student who is eager to advance in the legal field. “Holland & Knight is an international powerhouse. To gain experience under their tutelage is invaluable. It is incredibly affirming to have a firm like Holland & Knight see value in you. I can’t wait to show them and the world what I have to offer!”

The Holland & Knight Summer Associate Program is an opportunity for a select number of law students from across the nation to gain real-world law firm experience, where associates work with experienced lawyers on complex matters for their clients. Holland & Knight Scholars have strong academic records at their law schools.

Holland & Knight Scholars will be exposed to a wide range of legal experience such as attending client meetings, building relationships with attorneys, working with peers, meeting top leaders of the firm, improving substantive and practical legal skills through customized training programs and more. Many law students are offered employment at the end of the Holland & Knight Summer Associate Program.


Four FAMU Law Students Receive William Holland Program Bar Prep Scholarships


Lavant, Noziere, Ryles and Janvier


The following students received scholarships:

Edward Lavant, Lindjee Noziere, Richard Ryles, Jr & Suwana Janvier received the William Holland Scholarship.

Suwana Janvier received the Shannoya C. Robinson Memorial Scholarship.

The F. Malcolm Cunningham, Sr. Bar Association hosted the 21st Annual Holland Bar Prep Scholarship Program. The awards were announced during a virtual ceremony on Friday, February 18, 2022. The scholarships are for well-deserving African American law students scheduled to take the bar exam in July 2022. The scholarships offset the bar examination preparation expenses for students who demonstrate a commitment to excellence.

“I admire the mission of the F. Malcolm Cunningham Sr. Bar Association which is to promote the personal and professional development of Blacks within the legal profession and to promote improvement in the law and in the method of its administration,” said Lindjee Noziere, scholarship recipient. “I am humbled, grateful and honored to be one of the recipients of this award.”

Suwana Janvier received the Shannoya C. Robinson Scholarship for overcoming adversity. The third-year student from Lake City is the mother of three, the President of the Student Bar Association and is actively involved in multiple activities. “I am pleased and honored to be a recipient of this scholarship and appreciate the Cunningham Bar Association’s forethought to consider the path of becoming a practicing attorney and reaching back to help bring others along,” said Janvier.



Shanice Cameron Named Law Review Editor-in-Chief

Shanice Cameron

The Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law has announced its 2021-2022 Law Review Editorial Board. The team is led by Law Review Editor-in-Chief Shanice Cameron, a third-year student from the Bronx, New York.

Being a member of Law Review is one of the most prestigious accolades that a student can achieve,” Cameron said. “Law Review helps to further the legal profession through publishing scholarly works. Students benefit immensely from reviewing and editing articles.”

In addition to
 Cameron, the 2021-2022 Law Review Editorial Board includes:

Executive Editor: Benjamin Kaufman, 3L, West Palm Beach, Florida

Executive Articles Editor: Valerie Chant David, 3L, Orlando, Florida

Notes & Comments Editor:  Sara Jensen, 3L, Sparta, New Jersey

Business Managing Editor: Olivia Garcia, 3L, Orlando, Florida

Faculty Advisor: Professor Omar Saleem



Lacresha Pierre Receives UMG Internship

Lacresha Pierre

Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law student Lacresha Pierre is one of 50 interns selected for the Universal Music Group’s Summer Internship Program. Pierre is assigned to East Coast Shared Services in the Business & Legal Affairs Department.

“I am ecstatic about beginning this position with Universal Music Group with support from FAMU Law and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), which provided this summer employment opportunity,” said Lacresha Pierre. “I know this opportunity will make a huge difference in getting me a step closer to my goal of employment in the Sports, Media and Entertainment field.”


Destiny Hibbler and Sara Jensen Receive Justice John Paul Stevens Fellowship

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Two Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law students are recipients of the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship.

Destiny Hibbler is working this summer with the Southern District of Florida Federal Public Defender’s Office in Miami. The Fort Worth, Texas, native aspires to become a federal public defender after law school. “I am blessed to have been selected for the Summer Fellowship because it shows someone’s generous support in my future endeavors,” Hibbler said.

Sara Jensen landed a spot with the office of the public defender in the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Orlando. The Sparta, New Jersey, native is excited to be part of the program, named for the former U.S. Supreme Court justice.

“I am thrilled to be selected for a 2021 Stevens Fellowship and grateful for the support of the foundation in pursuing a career in public service,” Jensen said.


Amanda Hunter interns at the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office this past Summer


This summer, Amanda interned at the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office in Mays Landing, New Jersey. She worked under the supervision of Assistant Prosecutor Erika Halayko and Marisa McGarvey. She was assigned to the Special Litigation and Screening Unit. As a legal intern, Ms. Hunter drafted pretrial motions to detain defendants, motions to suppress evidence brief, and memorandums of law for the Appellate Unit and Special Victims Unit. She also conducted research and observed grand jury hearings, sentencing hearings, and status conferences.

Amanda Hunter truly learned the daily responsibilities of a member of the prosecutor's office. My time at the prosecutor's office has enhanced my writing and research skills. This opportunity also further solidifies my goal of becoming a prosecutor.