Community Advocate: Jy’Kira Riley
Meet Jy’Kira Riley, a third-year student double majoring in psychology and political science. When she’s not in class, you can find her running Minorities in Law at VCU, which promotes careers in the legal field among underrepresented populations.
Jy'Kira has excelled in her time at VCU—making the Dean’s List, participating as a University Student Scholar and founding the group Minorities in Law at VCU, which promotes careers in the legal field among underrepresented populations. She shares a little bit about her student experience and her plans beyond graduation.
Why did you choose VCU?
Honestly, VCU was not my first choice. VCU was actually my mother’s first choice for me. I was not fond of attending VCU until I did my own research about the area and campus life, toured the campus, and learned about VCU’s outstanding financial resources. Being from a small and rural area, I knew that I had to take a leap of faith and step out of my comfort zone to do so. VCU had everything to offer that interested me and supported my short term and long term goals.
What led you to choose your major?
I was not always sure about what field I wanted to go into. However, as I got older, I began to understand, witness and even experience racial discrimination and police brutality against the African American community. I made the decision to major in political science because I have known all of my life that I want to be a lawyer. As these issues continue to impact my community, I know that my major will help me in exploring more of, and potentially working in, civil rights.
Tell us about your experience with Minorities in Law at VCU.
As one of the founders, I wanted to promote interest in the legal field among underrepresented communities within VCU’s community. The organization is important to the VCU student community because it is extremely crucial for all students, but especially underrepresented students, to feel supported pursuing a future in the legal profession. The biggest event the organization has held was the Law School Fair back in January 2020 with seven law schools in attendance. We have even more initiatives planned for this upcoming year.
Tell us about some of your volunteer activities and why the experience has been important for you to participate in.
During winter break in 2020, I went back home to the Eastern Shore of Virginia and partnered with a nonprofit organization, Red Door Empowerment, to ensure that my community had the resources and support it needed, and to give back so members of my community could get through the holidays without worry. The pandemic has been hard on many people, but especially the African American community. Giving back to my community was one way I could contribute to the wellbeing of my neighbors. I might not have the financial means to save the world, but I can help ensure that everyone has a special meal during the holidays.
What are your plans beyond graduation?
Beyond graduation, I plan to attend law school and work as a civil rights attorney. I recently completed an internship with Hyder Immigration Law here in Richmond, Virginia that allowed me to gain some experience of what it is like to work in the legal profession. I mainly worked on immigrant visas and learned how to efficiently aid in the visa process. It was an amazing experience and I saw firsthand how the legal profession can help change people’s lives for the better.