Student Spotlight: Nikki Childers, J.D. Candidate ’20

Nikki is a rising 3L at DePaul University’s College of Law. In addition to attending law school full-time, Nikki is the president of the Sky Cares Foundation, the philanthropic foundation of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. In that role, Nikki leads the Chicago Sky’s Clear Skies Initiative, which seeks to aid circumstance-affected youth with the juvenile expungement process. We spoke with Nikki about her DePaul Law experience and what she’s looking forward to this academic year.

Tell us about your journey to DePaul.

I had an interesting path to DePaul. Home is Las Vegas, Nevada. Out of high school, I received a lacrosse scholarship to Howard University. Unfortunately, I hurt my shoulder my freshman year and ended up losing my scholarship. Without my scholarship, I left Howard and moved to Chicago. I enrolled at Harold Washington College and received my associate’s degree. One day on the ‘L,’ I saw an ad for Robert Morris College which featured their lacrosse team. I knew nothing about the school. So, I decided to make a visit, I met with the lacrosse coach, and I ended up enrolling. In just two years, I was able to earn my bachelor’s degree in Health Science and my master’s degree in Business Administration & Sports Management.

What drew you to DePaul Law?

I believe in the value and credibility that comes with obtaining a law degree. When I decided to attend law school, I visited each one in Chicago. From the beginning, DePaul felt right to me.

What stands out the most from your two years of law school?

DePaul is unique in that you don’t have to curtail yourself. Your voice is encouraged. I don’t feel that statement can be made about many other law schools across the country. During my first year, there was an incident in which a professor used racist language in the classroom. Dean Jenn listened and was open to student protest and feedback. I feel our voices were heard and embraced in the aftermath of that ugly situation.

In addition, the school has been very supportive. I was in the hospital for the first six weeks of my 1L year, and DePaul was right there with me. After my first year, I had the opportunity to work full-time for the Chicago Sky, but I wanted to continue on as a full-time law student. The administration was supportive of my decision to take on that challenge.

Tell us more about your role with the Chicago Sky?

The summer after my 1L year, I began interning with the Chicago Sky. The Sky wanted to create a program that would make a real and lasting impact in our community. From that ideal, the Clear Skies Initiative was born. The program provides Chicago’s under-served youth the necessary resources, legal guidance and mentorship to petition to expunge their arrest and court records and be provided an equal opportunity for a successful future.

We hosted an event called the Clean Slate Summit to bring together volunteer attorneys to work on these expungement cases. We succeed in expunging 64 juvenile records! Currently, I serve as president of Chicago Sky Cares. Chicago Sky Cares not only oversees the Clear Skies Initiative, but a host of programs committed to improving the quality of life in the Chicago community.

What are you looking forward to you in your 3L year?

The birth of my daughter! In the classroom, I’m excited for my elective classes and using the knowledge gained there to assist my work with Chicago Sky Cares. In addition, I’m eager to host this year’s Clean Slate Summit and expunge as many records as possible. With that, my main goal is to completely revise and revamp how juvenile expungements are handled in Cook County. And, of course, I’m looking forward to graduating in May!

Since you mentioned graduation, do you have set plans come next May?

That’s the big question! I’m not pin-pointed on one particular interest. I’m open to new opportunities and very excited to see what happens this year.

At DePaul Law, we’re proud to support the accomplishments of our students every day. A gift to DePaul Law ensures that our students will receive the strong foundation that they need to begin a successful legal career. You can help students like Nikki by making a gift of any amount at today.

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