After arriving at St. Lawrence for her first year, Berenice Gervacio '25 didn't waste any time starting to explore her career interests and embedding herself in her new community.
Not only was her summer internship with the public defender's office an excellent opportunity to understand more about a potential career in the legal field, but it also allowed her to connect with her North Country neighbors and make an impact in unexpected ways.
Berenice Gervacio '25
Hometown: Bronx, N.Y.
Internship: Intern at the Public Defender's Office for St. Lawrence County
What is an average day at the Public Defender's Office like for you?
Each day is different. One day, I might shadow the attorney in county court during trials, arraignments, sentencing hearings, or family court. Or I might stay at the desk and help the attorney prepare files for his cases while reading and analyzing the case files for our clients. I also help respond to letters and emails, conduct research, provide translation support, work on the legal database, type motions, or help clients in any way I can.
Did you work with any Laurentians to secure this position?
I was awarded funding through the CSTEP program, but I personally did all the outreach when I was trying to find an internship. I'm also grateful for the support I've received from HEOP.
What has been your favorite task or project so far and why?
Helping clients since I’m able to tend to their needs while learning more legal terms and gaining more experience in the legal field.
What have you taken away from this experience that you will apply to your future career path?
I will take away the motivation to continue with my studies in the pre-law field. Clients' stories inspire me to continue fighting for justice and working toward creating a better system.
Have you been able to apply anything you learned at St. Lawrence to the work you’re doing?
St. Lawrence's liberal arts curriculum has helped me realize the importance of having multiple perspectives on one issue. I also learned that it is okay to ask questions or seek help, and it's important to see every experience as a learning opportunity.
What about your experience so far are you most proud of?
I'm proud of myself for securing this position, especially as a first-generation Latina student who just finished their first year in college. In the office, I'm proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone and working with multiple legal databases, and for being able to translate for Spanish-speaking clients. That is not something I expected to do this summer.