Niamh McDade-Clay’25 spent the summer as an intern with the New York State Division of Human Rights at its regional office in Rochester. She was supported by the Summer Internship Funding Committee and the Diversity and Social Justice Projects Fund. Here she talks about what attracted her to this opportunity and how it fits with her future plans.
What does the New York State Division of Human Rights do?
The division investigates complaints of discrimination that fall within the jurisdiction of the New York State Human Rights Act, which covers various protected categories such as sex, race/color, gender, orientation, national origin, status as a victim of domestic violence and religion.
How did you hear about this opportunity?
I discovered this internship while researching job opportunities to gain experience in the legal profession. Many of my classes in Hamilton included discussions of discriminatory practices and how they have become more difficult to prosecute under the law. Interested in learning more about the systems and patterns of discrimination and the agencies that combat it, I sought out this internship with the Human Rights Division.
What were your responsibilities?
This summer, I worked with human rights experts to help investigate and analyze complaints of discrimination. Although the office is not currently open to the public, I have interacted with community members by handling calls for admission. I listened to the appellant’s story and, after consulting a specialist, advised him whether his complaint fell within the agency’s jurisdiction. From there, I explained the process for filing a complaint or referred them to other resources.
I have also worked on case analyses, attended investigative conferences, and written Federal Investigation Reports and Basis of Discrimination (FIRABOD for short). I enjoyed writing case reviews because they gave me the opportunity to give my perspective on the case. The analysis allowed me to compile evidence to support whether I believed there was probable cause for unlawful discrimination.
What did you take away from this experience?
This experience immersed me in the practice of human rights law and helped me hone my writing and communication skills. It gave me a better understanding of the legal process and encouraged me to pursue future opportunities in public policy and public interest law.
I major in Sociology and double minor in Hispanic Studies and Jurisprudence, Law and Justice. I plan to go to law school after I graduate in Hamilton. I am grateful to the Summer Internship Funding Committee and the Diversity and Social Justice Projects Fund for making this opportunity possible. I am grateful to the kind, talented, and hardworking staff at the New York State Division of Human Rights who created an exciting and rewarding experience. I know that wherever my studies take me, the skills and knowledge I have gained through this experience will help me succeed.
Proposed major: Sociology
Hometown: Rochester, NY
High School: Brighton High School