What makes DePaul special for Kelli Fennell is the powerful experience she has gained.
As part of classes through the College of Law’s Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic, she represented a client in a complicated immigration case and presented arguments before the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
“There aren’t too many people coming out of law school who can say they had a chance to argue a full case before they even graduated,” Fennell said.
She acquired an early interest in different cultures and in issues of community, and asylum and immigration. Fennell, who is fluent in Spanish, was raised by a family that moved often, and grew up in locales ranging from Mexico City to the Quad Cities.
As an undergraduate at Butler University, she had an opportunity to work with refugees and people seeking asylum. “That made a big impression on me,” she said. “DePaul’s location in Chicago and its active involvement in matters of human rights and immigration law is part of what drew me to the law school.”
DePaul’s extensive clinical opportunities were especially appealing to Fennell. “I knew it was an excellent law school with a great tradition of opening up the field, and that it has many alumni who are leaders in Chicago’s legal community,” she said. “The opportunities to apply what I am learning in real cases did not seem nearly as extensive at other law schools.”
As a DePaul student, Fennell spent a summer in Chiapas, Mexico, as part of the Chiapas Human Rights Practicum, in which students travel to Chiapas to meet with major human rights and indigenous organizations in the community. Students are based in San Cristobal, where local human rights lawyers, activists and community leaders teach students about the local legal and political situation.
As a Spanish-speaking student, Fennell received a stipend to work the entire summer in a human rights office. Fennell says that the Jaharis Scholarship “felt like a vote of confidence in my abilities and it has really been a help, allowing me to take full advantage of clinical opportunities.” And, as someone who moved around a lot as a child, she found a home at DePaul.
“The College of Law is a wonderful community. We are competitive, but we use that competitive impulse to excel individually and be supportive of each other. I have had some great mentors among the faculty, and the alumni network is terrific—very strong and active. The alumni are very faithful to the school and younger alumni. The community is constant.”