NU alumna Cheyenne Freely, ’19, was one of several women members of Georgetown Law’s Black Law Students Association who attended the first day of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
She shared her reflections about what she calls “the highlight of my law school career.”
“The night before the hearings, I received a call from my friend Jade Baker, the Student Bar Association president. She told me that Senator Patrick Leahy, a Georgetown alum, had contacted the school to provide black, female student leaders with the opportunity to attend day one of the nomination hearings. As director of our Appellate Advocacy Team, I was selected to attend! I distinctly remember feeling so overjoyed that night—almost like a kid going to sleep on Christmas Eve.
“While at the hearing, I had the privilege of witnessing moments that will inspire me for the rest of my life. It felt surreal to be in the presence of the extremely qualified and poised woman that is Ketanji Brown Jackson. Her opening remarks that day really put into perspective that she’s not just this great legal mind, but she is also a daughter, wife, and mother who set out to follow her dreams. Similarly, I am a daughter who has set out to follow her own dreams, and the reality of attaining those dreams really hit me then.
“Senator Cory Booker’s remarks were especially inspiring. He discussed how the Supreme Court we all grew up knowing will be so different than the one generations to come will know. They will see a court that looks more like the world around us. Specifically, little black girls will see someone who looks like them at the helm of a monumental institution of our democracy. That is so critical, because it will not only inspire black women to pursue their dreams in the law, but it will inspire black women and other underrepresented populations to dream out loud and pursue those dreams. With the breaking of this glass ceiling by Justice Jackson will come a domino effect that inspires others to break barriers they never thought were possible.
“Overall, the moment was just such a joyous occasion. When I first walked into the room, the senators and Justice Jackson were just coming off of a lunch recess. During that time, a photographer in the room was on the phone with his wife, and I heard him say how he has covered so many of these hearings and how this one was different because of how joyous the room was. That alone set the tone for how I would experience that day—through the joy of the moment and what was to come from her later confirmation.”
After completing her studies, Cheyenne, a member of Georgetown Law's Class of 2022, will return to Buffalo to join the litigation department at Hodgson Russ as an associate attorney. Her long-term goal is to become a partner and specialize in appellate litigation. She also hopes to one day enter the political realm and run for elected office, because she is passionate about advocacy in its many forms.
“The timing of Justice Jackson’s nomination and confirmation could not have come at a more pivotal point for me, personally,” she said. “I am nearing graduation at the end of May, and as I enter my legal career, I will be practicing in a justice system where qualified black women—women who look like me and who I identify with—can be found at all levels. That has further inspired me to pursue appellate litigation with the ultimate goal of one day appearing before our nation’s highest court and once again seeing Justice Jackson!”