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Immersed in Real-Life Law — and Loving It


On day one of his internship in the Dutchess County Public Defender’s Office, his supervisor meted out an unvarnished observation on a career in law. “If you like this,” the supervisor told Federico Romero ’22, “this is what you’ll do. If you don’t like it, I’ve had a lot of interns that don’t like it, and they pursue something else.”

Time will tell if the supervisor is right. So far, Romero loves the work in the lively office and is more determined than ever to go to law school. For the first week and a half, his task was to conduct intakes with potential clients who had just been arrested. “I’d intake financial information to see if they qualified for a public defender, and the best part, the part I liked, was taking client statements, essentially (learning) just what was going on, framing it in a way that meets the process for the public defender,” Romero says.

About Federico Romero '22

Intended Majors: Public Policy, Classical Studies

From: Miami

High School: Miami Killian Senior High 

Read about other student research

He’s learning about laws by recording the charges the potential clients face. He’s filled in for the receptionist on the Family Court side of the operation and will spend some time in court, too.

Romero is an intended double major in public policy and classical studies, an interest he didn’t know he had until he took a Latin class. A rising sophomore, he never expected to have an internship so soon in his college career. He is one of seven Hamilton students to have a public-service internship this summer through a new partnership between the College's Levitt Public Affairs Center and the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty. The consortium supports internships in agencies at work in distressed communities, giving students a chance to learn about poverty as they work to strengthen those communities.

Romero views the Shepherd internship as an opportunity to give back to Upstate New York. He’s from Miami and lived for years in Nicaragua, but has fallen in love with Upstate since he entered Hamilton. “I just feel like I want to contribute to a community that I’ll eventually be part of because I think I want to stay in Upstate New York after Hamilton,” he says.

All told this summer, 200 Hamilton students are doing an internship or conducting research funded by the College.

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