It is no secret that a number of Morgan graduates go on to accomplish great deeds, using the education they receive to propel themselves to great heights. Christopher Wilds, who graduated from Morgan in 2011 with a B.A. in English, can be included among that number.
After his time at Morgan, Wilds went on to excel at Columbia Law School, where he dedicated himself to public interest work before graduating in the summer of 2015. While in law school, Wilds was honored as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar for superior academic achievement. In addition, he served as director of community service for the Black Law Students Association as well as the submissions editor for the Columbia Journal of Race and Law.
Upon graduation from Columbia Law School, Wilds was awarded the inaugural Herbert and Nell Singer Social Justice Fellowship, in recognition of his substantial commitment to public interest law and his ability and preparation to make a difference in the field. The fellowship was established to honor the memory of Herbert Singer, a member of the Columbia Law School Class of 1928, and his commitment to providing support to meaningful learning experiences in public interest law.
As a Singer Fellow, Wilds joined the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund this fall as a staff attorney, with a focus on K–12 school desegregation cases. After the conclusion of his one-year fellowship, he will clerk for Judge Johnnie B. Rawlinson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Las Vegas, Nev.).
Although his future appears to be very bright, it is his past that initially lit the path he is on. Wilds’ commitment to the public interest service, particularly as it relates to education, began when he was an undergraduate at Morgan working in the Office of Community Service to provide free and low-cost educational programs for local, low-income students.
Morgan’s Office of Public Relations and Communications (OPRC) caught up with Wilds to learn more about his recent honors as well as his time as a Morgan State student.
5 Questions With Christopher Wilds
OPRC: How does it feel to be awarded such a prestigious honor as the Herbert and Nell Singer Social Justice Fellowship?
CW: Personally, receiving this fellowship represents the ability to overcome the kind of financial obstacles that often force young lawyers, in particular people of color, to choose careers outside of the public interest field. With the assistance of the Singer Fellowship, I will have the extraordinary opportunity to work at the nation’s leading civil rights organization, while developing the lawyering skills and social justice contacts that will aid me throughout my public interest legal career.
OPRC: Once you have completed your fellowship and your clerking assignment, what are you looking to do career-wise?
CW: Hopefully, I (will) have the opportunity to continue doing civil rights work. Morgan has a long tradition of contributing to the struggle for civil rights, going back to the early movements to integrate public spaces in Baltimore. The possibility that I can, in my own way, carry on that tradition, serves as great motivation in planning my next steps.
OPRC: How did attending Morgan prepare you for your post-graduation studies and the work that you are doing today?
CW: At Morgan, I developed useful study habits. Over time it became more natural to spend hours in the library getting work done, something that was easier to do in the comforts of the newer Earl S. Richardson Library.
Additionally, as an English major, I had lots of practice reading, writing and thinking critically. And although the assignments in law school were different than those that I received during undergrad, my professors in Morgan’s English Department prepared me so that the transition (to) law school was less daunting. Considering my experience, I think English is an excellent area of study for students interested in pursuing legal careers.
OPRC: What initially drew you to attend Morgan?
I chose to attend Morgan after a few of my high school friends visited the university during a college tour and returned to our neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., very excited about how great their visit was. I decided to check Morgan out for myself, and after being impressed by the university, we all applied and came to Morgan together.
OPRC: How would you summarize your experience at Morgan? And what message would you pass along to future graduates who are interested in service to others or making a difference?
My time at Morgan was full of learning experiences: some inside the classroom and others outside of the classroom. I’m often reminded of experiences at Morgan that continuously shape who I am today.
To future graduates, I think it is really important to develop relationships with faculty, staff and fellow students. It can be easy to overlook professors and classmates, but as you go on to the professional realm, they can be great sources of knowledge, inspiration and support.
I also think it’s important to develop a balance between working hard and having fun. Remember that handling business in the classroom is always the first priority, but be sure to enjoy your time at Morgan, because it is truly the most memorable time of your life.