It is with great honor that we announce and congratulate Catrina Miksis as a recipient of the 2016 Equal Justice Works Fellowship, one of the most prestigious and competitive post-graduate fellowships in the country. Each year the Equal Justice Works Fellowship competition selects qualified and passionate lawyers who have developed new and innovative legal projects that can impact lives and serve communities in desperate need of legal assistance. Equal Justice Works Fellows have represented thousands of adults, children, and families in need in communities across the country. Fellows design unique projects that serve and address a range of legal issues. Roughly 45 new lawyers are selected each year for this fellowship.
In an announcement to the College of Law community, Dean Vikram Amar said, “The EJW Fellowship really is a special thing, and the fact that newly minted Illinois law graduates are vying for and getting such things is a testament to the quality of our students, and to the hard work the Career Services office is doing to help facilitate success at the very highest levels of the public interest world, among other arenas.”
Catrina's fellowship is with Prairie State, sponsored by Deere & Co., Lane and Waterman LLP, and Schiff Hardin, LLP. Catrina will focus her project on disrupting the impact of poverty on social determinants of health for low-income residents of Rockford, Illinois through the creation of a medical-legal partnership that provides direct legal representation to Rockford residents. Over 25% of the population of Rockford, Illinois lived below the poverty line between 2009 and 2013, the highest rate of poverty in Illinois. Research has shown that socioeconomic status is strongly correlated to health outcomes, particularly for low-income individuals. A lack of access to resources that are intended to alleviate the harming effects of social determinants of health impacts an individual’s long-term health and well-being. A medical-legal partnership between Prairie State Legal Services and Crusader Community Health will work toward addressing the root causes of civil-legal needs present in the Rockford community.
The fellowship is fitting for a student who has worked in public service her entire law school career. At the College, Catrina was significantly involved with the Public Interest Law Foundation (serving as President), the Journal of Law, Technology, and Policy (serving as Membership Editor), and the Federal Civil Rights Clinic. She also had internships with Equip for Equality in Chicago, the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Urbana, and the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Catrina says she is very humbled and grateful for this opportunity, and is looking forward to beginning work. She went on, “I hope that through this project, I have the opportunity to be a part of efforts to support all community members. I attended law school to pursue a career in which I can assist with advocating for the civil rights of all individuals. The opportunity to work directly with members of the Rockford community to help remediate legal issues so that every person has the opportunity to pursue their individual dreams is, simply, incredible. I hope that I have the opportunity to remain engaged in public service work after the fellowship.”