Iesha is a junior at Oberlin College who is majoring in Law & Society and Africana Studies and minoring in Rhetoric and Composition. Iesha is passionate about the communities she comes from and is committed to serving those communities in a future career as a Public Defender. During the academic year, Iesha works with Writers in Residence (WIR), an organization that seeks to empower incarcerated youth across Ohio through creative writing. Iesha has facilitated regular workshops with youth in the Lorain County Juvenile Detention Center (LCJDC) since the fall of 2019, seeking to build strong relationships grounded in shared experiences and keeping commitments. Iesha has become a leader among Oberlin students involved in the program. Drawing on past formative personal experiences and feedback from current LCJDC residents, Iesha is also working to develop a summer camp for formerly incarcerated Ohio youth, particularly in Lorain County. Iesha’s approach to community engagement and her current endeavors lay a strong foundation for future public service pursuits.
As a child with an incarcerated parent, I learned how the justice system can disrupt families. I narrowly missed this cycle because of volunteers who pushed me to become the fierce young woman that I am today. Volunteering has allowed me to recreate this impact. I currently volunteer at the Lorain County Juvenile Detention Center with Writers in Residence (WIR). Through this program, I have been able to use creative writing workshops to expand my impact and help underserved children growing up in my same predicament. I also help advocate for the freedom of the residents’ voices through the publishing of their writing in chapbooks annually shared with the Greater Cleveland area. An issue that I am trying to solve is how to support youth once they are released from juvenile facilities because our writing workshops are only offered to youth who are currently incarcerated. To address this, I began planning an overnight summer camp for formerly incarcerated youth in Ohio to build community with one another. Working with WIR has given me an opportunity to use my own education and commitment to improving children’s lives to garnering existing community resources and to work towards justice for youth.