Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Former LLI Students Find Success in College

Image of former Law and Leadership Institute students Candice L. Milner and Erica Danielle Wilson

Candice L. Milner (left) Erica Danielle Wilson (right)

Image of former Law and Leadership Institute students Candice L. Milner and Erica Danielle Wilson

Candice L. Milner (left) Erica Danielle Wilson (right)

Two former Law and Leadership Institute (LLI) students are making their marks in college and said the foundation of the statewide program was instrumental to where they are today.

After participating in LLI for four years as a student at Euclid High School, Erica Danielle Wilson went out East to study mechanical engineering at Boston University. She’s currently a freshman and involved in the National Black Society of Engineers and a Christian fellowship group on campus.

“College is a huge adjustment from high school and Boston is very different from Cleveland,” Wilson said. “[But] LLI has prepared me for college in numerous ways. I have become a better writer due to LLI, and have succeeded in professional settings thanks to LLI.”

LLI is a statewide initiative that partners Ohio’s nine law schools and the legal community with students from underserved areas in six cities to help prepare them for academic and professional success through law-related curriculum and leadership training.

The institute began in 2008 as a summer program at law schools in two cities serving 40 students. It has grown into a year-round program with more than 400 students across the state participating.

They work on professionalism, analytical thinking, problem solving, and writing skills through mock trials, leadership activities, interning at law offices, and college prep. Wilson said she made the right choice by taking part in LLI in high school.

“Law and Leadership was one of the influential forces that kept me grounded and focused in high school. Law and Leadership has been my professional foundation and backbone,” Wilson said.

Wilson said she still keeps in touch with some of her instructors, and they have continued to give her advice as she begins her college career.

“I’m very grateful for the impact that my LLI instructors have had on me,” Wilson said. “They have not only been my teachers but also role models and friends.”

Candace Milner is a senior at Georgetown University. She’s majoring in Business Management, Leadership, and Innovation with a minor in African-American Studies and Sociology and is the president of the university’s NAACP chapter, a member of the Georgetown Scholarship program, and sings in the gospel choir. She, too, participated in LLI all four years while attending Eastmoor Academy High School in Columbus.

“LLI provided me with writing and research skills that have helped me in college,” Milner said. “I had experience in analyzing and critically thinking about problems thanks to LLI. This experience enabled me to actively participate in and contribute to my college classes.”

She also said she may not have attended Georgetown without LLI. Milner said her LLI instructors were some of the first African-American mentors she saw with an education higher than high school.

“Seeing them showed me that college, and ultimately law school, was in fact possible and was a place that I belonged. Beyond that, instructors were always there to encourage and guide me in all my endeavors and goals,” Milner said.

One of Milner’s LLI mentors, Kathy Northern, said Candace had flourished in LLI. She went from being shy and downplaying herself to becoming a leader.

“I had the great pleasure of watching her grow,” Northern said. “Always an incredibly hard worker, Candace exemplifies the potential for excellence that so many of our LLI students bring to the program. She is a source of pride to me, to her LLI colleagues, and to the LLI staff who have worked with her throughout the years. Candace will make a difference in her community in ways we can only begin to imagine.” 

Now that she’s a senior in college and about to go off in the “real world,” Milner advises current LLI juniors and seniors to not be afraid to ask for help and to give back to their communities in and beyond college.

“Part of leading successful, healthy, and fulfilling lives is giving back to the people and programs that contributed to your growth,” Milner said.