Malea Dickerson’s participation in Duke University’s Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars program is her first step toward a legal career

An Alcorn State University Braves softball player who has her sights set on pursuing a legal career participated in a law scholars program to expand her knowledge and explore career possibilities.

Malea Dickerson, a junior majoring in accounting, spent the month of June participating in Duke University's Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program in Durham, North Carolina. The program aims to introduce talented rising college sophomores and juniors to the study of law and the legal profession. The program targets students from colleges and universities in the Southeast region of the United States with a focus on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

Dickerson applauds Duke for extending their resources to students who attend smaller colleges.

"I think it's magnificent that this is happening because it adds more depth and perspective to the field of law, Duke, and the students attending HBCUs," said Dickerson, a Plano, Texas native. "Duke is doing a phenomenal job at displaying diversity."

Shadowing seasoned attorneys such as James Coleman, Jesse McCoy, and others exposed Dickerson to multiple career options in the field of law.

"I had an amazing experience, and I'm thankful for the tremendous opportunity to attend. I had the honor to be taught by brilliant attorneys with successful careers. I've sat with current practicing judges and gained knowledge about the numerous routes that pursuing law can lead you."

Coleman, who serves as a John S. Bradway professor of the practice of law as well as director for the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility at Duke, is an attorney that inspires Dickerson to pursue law. Being in his presence and soaking up pertinent information was a standout moment for her.

"I enjoyed being taught criminal law by James Coleman. As soon as I found out he would be one of our professors for the program, I was so excited because the work that this man has completed is tremendous. He even allowed us to grab a coffee in the morning with him before class so we could ask him questions about what becoming a successful lawyer entails as well as anything else we wanted to know about his career. That was a moment that I will never forget as I continue to pursue law in the future. James Coleman is such an inspiration, and I still can't believe that I earned the chance to experience that.

The course work that Dickerson engaged in was challenging but vital for her success in the field. She appreciates the grind, and she believes it will be beneficial to her in the future.

"The program exposed me to how law school will be and how the courses are conducted. We were given essays and numerous pages to read nightly, and we were expected to know the information when it was time for class. Duke did a beautiful job exposing us to the journeys of different attorneys, judges, and professors from across the spectrum. I feel that the lessons will be beneficial to me because it allowed me to grasp the many ways to change lives with a future law profession."

Being among some of the region's smartest aspiring legal professionals gave Dickerson an opportunity to study with like-minded individuals. She believes that she and the other Duke PLUS fellows will accomplish amazing feats in the future.

"I had the pleasure of being among some of the best and brightest. I'm a firm believer that each of us holds the paintbrush to our future. We have the power to control our destiny, whether our routs lead us to the courtroom, politics, or academia."

Duke University made a good impression on Dickerson. So much so that she is considering further her education at the institution after completing her undergraduate years at Alcorn.

"Duke is one of the top schools that I'm considering for law school in the future. It's an amazing institution. Great minds have come from Duke and after experiencing the university; I can picture being there. If it's God's plan for Duke to be a part of my story, then Duke is where I will be."