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March 24, 2021 at 12:36 am

Kristin Kelley Studies Violence in Tribal Nations, Plans for Law School

Kristin Kelley, portrait

Kristin Kelley

Kristin Kelley’s academic experience as an undergraduate student at Ohio University was shaped by her participation in the Certificate Program in Law, Justice & Culture.

Kelley developed an interest in violence against Native girls and women in her undergraduate capstone project, and now she’s delving further into the topic in the M.A. in Law, Justice and Culture. She recently received a scholarship and admission to law school.

Through the Center for Law, Justice & Culture certificate, she pursued integrated interdisciplinary coursework in law and society, engaged in law-related co-curricular activities, and developed her legal knowledge through mentoring with CLJC Pre-Law Specialist and Advisor Larry Hayman.

These high-impact curricular and co-curricular engagements led her to apply to the master’s program.

“I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to law school yet, and I decided that I wanted to do a master’s program that aligned with my interests and was also very flexible. That is exactly what I found in the LJC program.”

Kelley has flourished in the M.A. program. She has embraced opportunities to take courses with some of her favorite undergraduate professors, including Dr. Jennifer Fredette.

“I have taken all of her classes. She’s not only an extremely good professor, but she’s a great person! This year, she taught Law and Colonialism — which directly relates to areas of interest. Her style and approach as a professor made me want to learn and do well in her classes. I absolutely love her!”

Researching Violence against Native Women

Kelley has chosen to write her master’s research essay on the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. She examines the act as a “jurisdictional maze” that operates as a mechanism for the perpetuation of settler colonial violence against Native women.

“I am looking at how this law has affected the autonomy of tribal court systems to prosecute crimes that happen on their land, namely crimes of sexual assault and rape perpetrated against native women,” she says.

“I chose this topic because it builds on my interests in sexual assault and survivor advocacy. As an undergraduate, my final capstone project focused on sexual assault in Native American communities.”

Kelley developed an interest in this topic as she learned about the epidemic of violence against Native girls and women — violence that has gone unrecognized and unacknowledged in broader U.S. society.

When she was deciding on her master’s research essay topic, she decided to dig deeper into this topic by analyzing the ways in which laws actually operate to obscure and perpetuate the status quo.

Great Preparation for Law School

Kelley believes that her master’s degree will establish a strong foundation for law school — not only by setting her apart from other law school applicants, but also by strengthening her critical research and writing skills necessary for success in law school.

“I honestly think that this master’s degree will give me a more well-rounded perspective when I am in law school and am practicing law. Law can be so cold. We often forget that as lawyers, we are affecting people’s lives and how they will interact, or not interact, with their communities for the rest of their lives.”

Kelley has recently been offered a position in the Chancellor’s Scholar Program in the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver. This position offers a full-tuition scholarship an an opportunity to pursue special opportunities in public interest law.

“I chose Denver not only because of its beautiful location but because of its clinical programs that focus on civil rights and addressing the concerns of local Native American tribes.”

Kelley emphasizes that the M.A. program has helped her feel more prepared academically for law school, and she appreciates the connections it has helped her make.

“The Center for Law, Justice & Culture really does provide all the tools you will need. Really, it is Larry Hayman and Haley Duschinski who have set me up for success.”






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