Judge Derek Mosley spearheads the restart of MEDAL, aims to help underrepresented students roadmap their professional dreams
Growing up, Judge Derek Mosley didn’t know he wanted to be a judge, or even a lawyer. It wasn’t until he turned on the TV and saw Blair Underwood on L.A. Law that he realized someone who looked like him could also be a lawyer.
Now, he’s introducing middle schoolers of color to a variety of professional fields as part of a program called MEDAL, which stands for medicine, engineering, dentistry, architecture and law. The program is a partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin, MSOE, Marquette Dental School, MATC and Marquette Law School.
Judge Mosley joins Lake Effect, along with Stephanie Nikolay, the director of admissions and recruitment at Marquette University Law School.
"The program actually had started probably about 15 years ago at this point. And then kind of fell apart for various reasons. And so I wanted to bring it back just because I know how I got on the bench... When I was growing up I didn't know any lawyers," Mosley says.
Mosley is single-handedly reviving and coordinating the program with the college partners to show middle school students what their futures could look like.
Judge Mosley oftentimes is present at the juvenile court, where he asks kids what they want to be when they grow up. For the most part they answer they want to play for the Packers or the Bucks. And Mosley acknowledges this is in part because the teams are so visible in Milwaukee.
So, Judge Mosley was inspired to introduce students to these professional fields because chances are, just like him, they do not know any Black lawyers or Latino doctors or any professionals from their backgrounds.
The fields that were chosen as part of the MEDAL program have the least representation from communities of color. "It's important to show [students] that there are people who look like them and came from the same circumstances they did and and are in fields that they can do as well," says Mosley.
Students who participate in the five-day MEDAL program will experience a wide range of activities. Each institution will host a morning where middle schoolers will meet current students and professionals, get a tour, and experience things such as a mock trial or even practice caring for a patient.
"It's really important to introduce these middle schoolers to real-life students who are going to law school and have made it this far," says Nikolay. "I've got a mock class that will be conducted by Veda Lindsay, our associate dean for enrollment and inclusion, and so she's going to do a mock class and pick a topic that will be appropriate and interesting to people who are 12 to 14 years old."
During the morning session at Marquette University Law School, Nikolay will also walk students through the application process. She says the law school would like to see more diversity as well as the other partnering schools. In addition to making these professional fields visible to middle school students, the MEDAL program is working on helping young students set a roadmap to accomplish their dreams.
"I'm hoping for the program is not only we're going to try to expose them to things that they may or may not be aware of, but also give them a roadmap on how they can get there, how they can attain that goal," says Mosley.
"And that's, you know, that's half the battle right there... A dream is always going to be a dream unless you have a plan to make that dream a reality."
For more information about the MEDAL program, reach out at email@example.com.
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