Community Service Committee’s High School Speaker Series

Chair – Hon. Connie Mallafré Mélendez

On behalf of the LJA , and as chair of the LJA High School Speakers Series, I wish to thank each of the judges who volunteered to share with high school students the lessons they learned as they made the journey to the judiciary. While every judge has his or her own story to tell, imparting to young people the wisdom acquired in pursuit of an education and a career is of universal value to high schoolers. Our program, aimed at demystifying college, law school and beyond, has been an enormous success as the stories our judges tell are based on circumstances similar to those the students encounter today. While understanding that not everyone must go to college or even law school, conversations with the students leave them with tools to guide them beyond high school. The students yearn to hear about how we made the decisions we made and seek our advice to help them make their own. I am grateful to the board for their support, connections to their school contacts and for sharing the vision.

We intend to continue the program for the 2021-2022 school year, so if you are interested in participating or have a school contact you wish to share, please contact me directly and click the link below.

The participating high schools (listed alphabetically) included: Bronx High School for Law Government & Justice, Brooklyn Collaborative Studies School, Judith S. Kaye High School, Mount Vernon High School and Richmond Hill High School.

Below we have shared some photos of those virtual programs and reflections from our colleague volunteers.

Fall Semester 2021

Click Here for Spring Semester 2021

Click Here for Fall Semester 2020

Bronx High School of Law, Government & Justice

Bronx High School Partners: Julissa Gomez-McGhie, Assistant Principal and Basil Manolakos, J.D., Civil & Criminal Law Dept. of Law

Hon. John Howard Algarin, Civil Court Judge Bronx County – October 25, 2021

Reflections: I recently had the pleasure of participating in a virtual exchange with students at the High School of Law, Government and Justice in the Bronx.  As a primer for our lively discourse, the dynamic group of students had prepared questions in advance on subjects ranging from my reason for becoming a judge to the toughest cases over which I have presided.  The theme of the discussion was “getting to the next level”, which contemplated a slow progressive journey toward what may be a lofty professional goal at this moment in time, and the fundamental skills to develop to help them get there.  It is always an honor to invest in their lives.   

Hon. Patria Frias-Colon – October 26, 2021

Reflections: I know that young people are our future and I keep this in mind when deciding how to volunteer my time, which like many of you is very limited.  It is imperative that we share our diverse journeys with our young people because to “to whom much is given, much is required.”  I was excited to share my journey with students from the Bronx HS for Law, Government and Justice.  I was candid with them and they seemed to respond well to that.  It is these types of volunteer opportunities that remind us that we should give more to this world than we take and for those of us in the legal profession, we must practice “law in the service of human needs” (CUNY Law’s motto).

Hon. Linda Mejias-Glover Court of Claims – October 28, 2021

Reflections: “Having the opportunity to speak to students, and in particular the students in the Bronx School for Law, Government & Justice, is always privilege and honor. The students in the class I spoke to were engaged and inquisitive, which made the experience that much more enriching for not just them, but for me especially. It is important for me to not only share my personal struggles and biography, but also to provide practical, specific and useful advice regarding education and professional opportunities. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to share my personal and professional experiences, and I can only hope that I had a positive impact on at least one young person. Thank you, LJA for giving me and these students this opportunity.”

Hon. Lisa Headley – October 28, 2021

Reflections: Nothing short of amazing is what I will call my experience today.  The students were so excited and engaging.  There was a moment when I became sad talking about my husband when answering the question about family support.  One of the students thanked me for sharing and being so honest. At that moment I realized again why it is important to share out stories with the younger generation.  They can learn that no matter who you are or how much you have achieved, challenges will come that can be overcome.  I was reminded that there are those in our younger generation who have empathy and they should be applauded for it.  The students deserve to meet us, learn from us, and know that they too can be whatever it is in life that they want to be.

Hon. Cynthia Lopez – March 16, 2022

Reflections: Today I met with students from the Bronx High School of Law, Government & Justice who are sophomores finishing a course study in Family Court. My experience with the class was beyond amazing. The students asked very detailed, relevant and thought provoking questions. They had a true interest in knowing the key aspects of Family Court and Child Welfare case. The students were attentive, engaged and interested. I could tell by the questions they presented to me that they have a true passion for this work and a desire to understand not only the day-to-day functions, but the emotional and human piece of Family Court. I can’t wait to do it again!

Port Chester High School Partners: Carmen Rosario – Social Worker, Yudelca Martinez – Bilingual School Counselor and Joseph Gilson – Chair, Social Studies Department.

Hon. Lisette G. Fernandez – January 25, 2022

As an Ecuadorian-born jurist, it was a privilege and honor to speak to Port Chester High School students. Cognizant that this high school has a large population of new Americans, I welcomed the opportunity to speak candidly with them about our shared experiences. Despite anti-immigrant rhetoric in America, I wanted these students to know that the American Dream lives and that it can be achieved through hard work and perseverance. I acknowledge the importance of academia, but I also impressed on the students the significance and impact of mentorship and networking. I will never forget how their faces lit up when I discussed the many doors mentorship and networking opened for me. After reading the students’ post-forum comments, I was gratified and humbled to learn that they left with feelings of empowerment and hope for future success. Thank you to the LJA and to Judge Mallafre for creating a forum to engage with our next generator of leaders.