Jada Itam and Corey Fedorowich, both 2Ls, recently were named recipients of the Carl “Tobey” Oxholm Summer Fellowship. Now in its 16th year, the program awards a stipend and internship at Philadelphia’s Law Department to 2Ls committed to public service.
This year is the first time two students have been awarded fellowships; in the past, there has been one fellow per year. The program is funded by a gift from former Drexel University senior vice president and general counsel Carl “Tobey” Oxholm III, JD, MPP.
Making a difference
Jada Itam wants to make a contribution to society. “It’s very important for me to feel like I’m making a difference,” says Itam, “especially in the legal world.”
Thanks to the Oxholm Fellowship, she will have an excellent chance to explore how she might make that difference. “I’m honored to be able to have this experience,” she says. “It is a really great opportunity for me to see what is out there and what I don't know.”
Itam believes the city’s Law Department will provide her with a welcome training ground. “I’m still kind of figuring it out,” she says, “and it seems like a really great environment for me to grow and flourish and determine who I want to be and where I want to go.”
Itam, who graduated from Spelman College as a philosophy major, says, “I love thinking about thinking. I love thinking about how we can improve things.” And she brings that attitude to public service and the law. “The perception of being an attorney is being in a courtroom and advocating for big companies,” she says, “but this is really a way to think about what we want the law to be and how we can take the law to that space.”
People her age have an important role to play in determining the answers to those questions, she says: “I very strongly believe that the younger generations need to speak up and be the future and bring younger voices and opinions.”
And she is dedicated to serving the Philadelphia community, despite being a transplant from Houston. “It’s really fun to serve people–to have a mission, do it, and know that what you’re doing is helping the people you see every day,” Itam says. For her, it’s all part of “belonging to something and belonging to somewhere, because we are human and it is important for us to have a community.”
Itam looks forward to the mentorship that awaits her through the Law Department. “It’s really an environment where people want to help,” she says. “Young legal minds, they’re kind of the future, and it’s really heartwarming to me to hear that people who have been in the game for a while want to help and want to mentor.”
For now, Itam isn’t sure what her future holds–but she’s looking forward to it. “I don’t know who I’m going to be,” she says. “I’m excited, though.”
Serving a city
By the time he started law school, fellowship recipient Corey Fedorowich already had his eye on public service. “I knew that I wanted to go into law to be in a public service position or a government position and help people,” he says.
That knowledge came in part from his experience working as a victim coordinator for the Philadelphia Office of the District Attorney–a role in which he connected crime victims with services and restitution and helped guide them through the court process.
Fedorowich calls receiving the fellowship “an extreme honor,” adding, “I’m very grateful to Mr. Oxholm.
“It is just a wonderful opportunity to continue to work for the city in another capacity,” he says, noting that he’s been exploring whether he wants to go into city- or federal-level practice. “It’s great to get compensated while also getting to act in a public service post for the city of Philadelphia. I love this city.”
A self-described “double Dragon” who also attended Drexel as an undergraduate, Fedorowich says the University’s co-ops helped him narrow down his professional interests. “I’ve learned…the best way to actually learn if you want to do [something] for the rest of your life is to participate in it,” he says.
And he has realized something else: “I’m not a person that gets satisfaction…from income, necessarily. I need to be able to get satisfaction from the work that I am doing and [its] impact, and that’s what motivates me and makes me happy in my life.”
Looking ahead, Fedorowich sees himself clerking for a year or two following graduation, then transitioning to work either at the city Law Department or in a position at the federal level. “I would love to be part of the U.S. attorney’s office in some capacity,” he notes. That would be familiar territory, as Fedorowich currently interns for that office. “I think focusing on equity and improving systems and making a difference in people’s lives is very important to me,” he adds.
Fedorowich looks forward to working with the staff at the Law Department. “I’m always very excited to just work and network with a team that really cares, and that’s been my experience anytime I’ve been with a government office,” he says. “It’s always been very collaborative, warm and inviting, and I’m excited to get to know the team there.”
A gift of opportunity
The opportunity provided by the fellowship is invaluable, says Donna Gerson, associate dean of career strategies. “We view these experiences as being so important to a student’s professional development,” she says. “The fellowship is an entry point into public service lawyering. By giving students exposure to working as a lawyer for the city law department, it enables them to connect with lawyers, gain practical skills and really use those skills in practice during the summer.”
And she believes both of this year’s fellows are deserving. “I think both Jada and Corey are emblematic of the kind of student the Drexel Kline School of Law attracts,” she says. “They’re smart, they’re community-minded and they want to use their legal skills to better society.”
She notes that many former fellowship recipients still work in public service, a number of them in highly placed positions.
“We feel so fortunate to have Tobey Oxholm as a supporter of our students and helping to cultivate the next generation of legal talent,” she says. “It’s a gift.”