Mr. Brenden Jermaine Watkins is this year’s The Morrison & Foerster - Stephen S. Dunham Scholar. Mr. Watkin’s passion for oral advocacy on behalf of the public interest, combined with his prelaw courses and experience in JROTC, will make him an excellent attorney.
Mr. Watkins says, "I have always felt that my purpose in life was to fight for, defend, and further the causes of others. I chose UDC-DCSL because of its sterling reputation for public interest law and its dedication to maintaining diverse classrooms, allowing students to graduate as well-rounded individuals.”
Mr. Watkins had a transformative experience in his teenage years that sparked his interest in pursuing law. As a pre-teen Mr. Watkins moved with his family into "shotgun housing” in inner-city West Jackson, MS, after his mother left the military. His high school was severely underfunded. Mr. Watkins, 14 at the time, was rebellious and so his mother presented him with a choice of joining the JROTC or moving in with his father in another under-served neighborhood in Jackson. He chose JROTC.
In JROTC Mr. Watkins began to develop leadership skills and become more disciplined. It was also during this period that his life began to change for the better. He was voted "Cadet of the Semester” his sophomore year of high school. In senior year he decided to move in with his father. While living with his father he witnessed an instance of blatant police brutality against a person who lived in his community. He was saddened and greatly affected by what he witnessed. It was after this experience he decided he would devote his life and career to making a difference as an attorney.
Mr. Watkins attended Alcorn State University in Mississippi, an Historically Black College and University. In his sophomore year of college he undertook a four-week pre-law program at the ITT Chicago-Kent School of Law. The program, with its law classes and law activities, solidified his interest in pursuing law as a career. He became active in the Criminal Justice Club, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and student government. He graduated with distinction in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
When he graduates from UDC-DCSL he would like to join the JAG Corps, start his own law firm handling civil rights cases, or get involved in politics. In his application to DCSL he stated that he would like to "defend the rights of the innocent” and defend the "rights of those who cannot defend themselves.” As this year’s The Morrison & Foerster Foundation - Stephen S. Dunham Scholar, he can focus his energy on becoming an excellent attorney, without the burden of financial debt.