preLaw - Winter 2011 - 13
law clerks in the prison and helped a lot of other people with their appeals.” His paralegal professors recognized that he had the ability to go further and recommended that he pursue law school. He entered Miami Dade’s B.A. program in Public Safety Management and graduated this past May with a 3.89 GPA. Meade now hopes to work in public interest, helping people who are struggling with some of the same issues he struggled with. “Because I was there, I can tell you there are a lot of people who need to be locked up,” he said. “But the majority had very low self esteem — so they took on an added level of bravado. But deep down, they think they are worthless.” Meade said these people are capable of learning, and when they do, their demeanor changes. “Prison is filled with people whose issues can’t be resolved by prison,” he said. “I was changed, but not by prison. I was changed by drug treatment programs, education and housing support.” Meade said that he is a living example that criminals and addicts can be rehabilitated. “It is not about picking the rotten fruit off the tree,” he said. “It’s about treating the root of the tree so you don’t have rotten fruit in the first place. You don’t treat the fruit, you treat the root.” Meade hopes to work with his fellow students to further connect them to the local community. “True strength comes from when we help others,” he said. “We have to give back to our community – not just as a passing fancy, but as a way of life. Everything gives back in nature. When we have issues it is always because someone is taking more than they are giving.” He said it is important for law students to help — especially with the homeless. “Don’t just look at it as if it is someone else’s problem,” he said. “It is our problem. When I was on the street, I did not believe that anyone cared one way or another whether I died that day. But when I went to these programs, I realized there were people who really cared.” While Meade knows he will give back after law school, he doesn’t know whether he will ever practice law. As a convicted felon, he either needs a pardon or a waiver to take the Florida bar exam. But that is a minor obstacle compared to what he has already been through.
Hands-on training is a large part of what we do at the University of Houston Law Center. Last year students in our Immigration Clinic took a case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won with a unanimous decision.
“Law Center students were honored to work on the case, and the outcome shows how well prepared they were. This is a decision that will have a lasting impact on thousands of immigrants.”
— CLINICAL ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR GEOFFREY A. HOFFMAN
Co-counsel and Immigration Clinic Faculty Supervisor
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photo by andrew milne
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