September 14, 2021
Before law school, Anika Nelson focused on global health and public policy.

Talk about your journey to law school

Before I attended Rutgers Law School, I was employed with an organization that works with collegiate and professional athletes to develop them physically, mentally and spiritually. While working full time, I earned my Master of Public Health (MPH) from Rutgers School of Biomedical and Health Sciences with concentrations in Global Health and Public Policy. During my second year, I had the opportunity to intern with The New Jersey Gun Research Center and write a research thesis discussing gun policies of other countries and theorize about the outcomes if the same or similar policies were adopted in the United States. During this process, I discovered my interest in law and realized law was more aligned with my future goals.  

What appealed to you about Rutgers Law? 

Well first, I LOVE New Jersey so I was ecstatic with the idea of staying here at least another three years. I also appreciate the ways that Rutgers Law gives back to the Newark community through it’s pro bono and civil rights work, public interest connections and outreach-based clinics. It’s very much in line with what I want to do with my law career and ample opportunity to do such while learning was appealing to me. I first heard about MSP at orientation and thought it would be a perfect program to be involved in given my career goals.  

Talk about yourself and your background

I grew up in very rural Wisconsin, some of my classmates drove tractors to school. My high school’s mascot was The Cheesemakers, my hometown is the home of the only limburger cheese factory in the United States, and we have a bi-annual celebration called “Cheese Days” which includes cow milking contests, polka dancing and Cheese Days royalty (my brother served as Cheese Days Prince in 2004). All the stereotypes are true!!  

What are your hopes for your post-law school career? 

My overall goal is to use my privilege to create spaces and systems that are equitable for everyone and not just those who have historically been in decision-making positions. I hope to work in a District Attorney’s Office, preferably in New Jersey or New York and contribute to the advancement of criminal justice reform. Eventually, I would like to work for organizations like The Equal Justice Initiative, The Innocence Project, or International Justice Mission.    

Anything else you'd like to add. 

In 2021, I ran 2,021 miles because I needed something to do during quarantine! It was challenging, but it gave me a small goal every day and helped me stay focused during the global shutdown. 
 

Rutgers Law Media Contacts:
Mike Sepanic (Camden); Elizabeth Moore (Newark)

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