Name: Taylor Renee McElroy
Year: Senior (SFSU student since 2010)
Major: Double Major in Criminal Justice and Communications
What made you become interested in criminal justice and law? I would have to say that what made me interested in criminal justice was watching a TV show in the '90's called "The Practice" with my grandma. "The Practice" focused on a group of defense attorneys and their clients. I remember telling everyone that one day I was going to "put bad guys in jail and throw away the key."
What inspired you to go into the field? What inspired me to go into the Criminal Justice field was the idea that not everyone can afford legal advice, but everyone deserves to have access to legal advice. I am a BIG proponent of services such as the ACCESS Center, which is a self-help center offered by the San Francisco Superior Court, and the Lawyer Referral Service, a program spearheaded by the Bar Association of San Francisco. Basically, I want to go into law because I want to help others gain access to the legal services they desperately need.
What is your role at the Legal Resource Center, and how did you become involved with the organization?*** I actually found out about the Legal Resource Center during my freshman year at San Francisco State, although the Center has been around for a few decades. I began getting involved my Junior year and I was fortunate enough to get hired as an Office Assistant in December 2012. During my semester as Office Assistant, I planned the First Annual All Things Law Expo. I interviewed for the position of Director of the Legal Resource Center in July of 2013. Currently, it is my job to oversee the operations of the Center, ensure that the Center, its employees and its volunteers are following the protocol we have set in place, and I also represent the Center in meetings with other organizations on- and off-campus.
What has been your most interesting experience at SFSU? My most interesting experience at SF State... Hmm... That's a difficult one. I suppose my most interesting experience at SFSU has been meeting so many different types of people and finding out how to connect with them. I came from a VERY small town in California (Cottonwood, if you're curious) and, prior to attending SFSU, I had not had experience with diversity in any aspect of life, especially diversity in culture.
Have you had any interesting experiences outside of campus at other internships? The most interesting experience I had outside of SFSU was becoming a 2012-2013 JusticeCorps member. In JusticeCorps, I had the opportunity to volunteer in the ACCESS Self-Help Center at the San Francisco Superior Court. I can honestly say, helping low-income litigants one-on-one changed my life and changed my perspective of the legal system.
Where do you see yourself after graduating from SFSU? I see myself going to Law School, receiving my Juris Doctor, and working in a low-income community. I also want to spend a lot of time encouraging LGBTQ Women to get more involved in politics and motivate them to pursue careers in the Criminal Justice system.
Do you have any advice for students interested in this field? My advice would be to RESEARCH EARLY. I know the last thing you want to do after a long day in classes is to do more research, but I promise you, it's worth it. I missed out on SO many amazing professional opportunities because I found out about them too late.
***What does the Legal Resource Center do and how can students get involved? The Legal Resource Center is a really great place to work and get experience in the legal field. We offer a variety of services to students, faculty and alumni, which include but are not limited to: legal information about various fields of law, appointments with our Center attorney, Ora, for only $10 per half hour, legal referrals to outside organizations, pamphlet boards that contain brochures of legal organizations around the Bay Area, and more.
Students can get involved in one of three ways:
1. Volunteer in the Center and take our classes (COUN 630/631)
2. Attend our events or utilize one of our services
3. Apply to work in the Legal Resource Center!