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Brianna Vaughan ‘17 set her sights on law school at a young age. It was her experiences growing up in Hempstead, N.Y., that shaped her view of the legal system — and her eventual role in it.
“I wanted to be a singer, but my parents had another idea,” Vaughan said. “They told me I should be a lawyer, and it just stuck. I was always arguing for somebody or advocating for somebody.”
Vaughan decided on Albany Law School, in part, because of its location in New York’s Capital Region and the connections she made as an undergrad at UAlbany, where she majored in Political Science and English.
“I already knew the area,” she said. “I had a network here. It was a good fit.”
Vaughan credited the “great support system” at Albany Law — from her fellow students to faculty and staff — for preparing her for a career in criminal law and civil rights law.
“I had the greatest internship this past summer,” she said. “I worked for the law office of Frederick K. Brewington — a private civil rights litigation firm in Hempstead — and this man was just phenomenal. I got to shadow him in federal court on a police brutality issue. I got to shadow him in criminal court on a homicide issue. I was able do so much legal research and writing, and had the opportunity to interact with clients. It was just great.”
Vaughan has been busy on campus as a 2L, honing her skills in the Family Violence Litigation Clinic and serving as vice president of Albany Law’s Black Law Students Association. She recently helped organize "Bridging the Gap: Police and Community Relations," a public forum with local attorneys, community leaders and law enforcement.
As a first-generation college graduate, Vaughan said making it to law school — a goal she set for herself at five years old — was “a big accomplishment” in itself. But she won’t stop there. Vaughan intends to put her J.D. to work in a big way.
“In the community that I’m from, I’ve seen a lot of criminal activity, and I feel like there should be some policy reform in the criminal law, especially since I come from a lower socioeconomic background and a lot of the crimes are drug-related,” Vaughan said. “And then for civil rights, there are so many hot-button issues out there that need meaningful advocacy.”
“I want to make a difference everywhere,” she added. “I plan on running for office one day. But I want to start locally in my hometown and go and run for assembly once I graduate from law school.”