This summer, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation team was joined by Priyanka Shah (above, left) and Nitin Vanama (above, right), two talented and dedicated interns.
Learn more about Priyanka and Nitin, the projects they've been working on, and why equal access to justice matters to them.
Name: Priyanka Shah, she/her
Hometown: Princeton, NJ
Education: Junior at Drexel University, majoring in Criminology & Justice Studies and pursuing additional studies in Business Administration
Most interesting thing I learned while working at the Philadelphia Bar Foundation: The civil legal aid sector is dependent on the collaboration of many non-profits organizations. A lot of issues or causes that we may think of as niche and only affecting certain marginalized groups actually share many commonalities. There is strength, both in the effectiveness of the programs and the people who benefit from them, when public awareness increases through the shared efforts of multiple organizations.
Why I care about equal access to justice: Our society is based on a democracy, which means there should be shared authority between all. Though my work in college with incarcerated individuals, I have heard stories of many people who have not had a just experience with our criminal justice system for one, and two, never had a fair shot in the first place. Until we stop trying to categorize particular groups of people as “other” and believing they deserve a lesser degree of equality and justice, we will never live up to the morals that our society was built upon.
Name: Nitin Vanama, he/him
Hometown: Queens, New York
Education: Drexel University, Economics and Marketing, Junior
Most interesting thing I learned while working at the Philadelphia Bar Foundation: During my time at the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, I learned how critical civil legal aid is for so many individuals in the community, especially during a global pandemic.
Why I care about equal access to justice: I believe it is our moral duty to breakdown the systemic hurdles that prevent marginalized communities from having access to the resources they deserve, especially when it comes to navigating legal issues. Growing up in a city as diverse as New York and coming to college in Philadelphia, I have come to learn firsthand just how inequitable the resources and knowledge are in different communities. The fight for equal access to justice is a huge step towards the betterment of so many lives.