Student headed to leadership conference

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Elisha Pelley, a Niles High School junior, has been chosen by the National Youth Leadership Forum (NYFL) to attend a law conference in Washington D.C. in October.
NYLF is a non-profit, educational organization committed to empowering young people to make well informed career choices.
The forum, which will be attended by 350 high-achieving high school students from around the country, gives the students an opportunity to explore the U.S justice system in the nation's capital.
Its curriculum is based on actual events, which allows its participants to learn from examples set by attorney's and court officials from municipal courts to the U.S Supreme Court.
Included in the six-day long forum is a visit to Capitol Hill, but the students will also visit law firms, area court houses and prestigious law schools in the D.C. area.
Pelley, who wants to be a prosecuting attorney, was nominated as a candidate to the Forum by Michele Clement, a Niles High School law teacher.
Pelley took a law class taught by Clement last year.
It did come as a surprise, however, when Pelley found out that Clement had nominated her for this year's forum.
Pelley said her interest in law grew while being a Junior High School student.
She is currently taking psychology and sociology, subjects she said will prepare her for law studies at the college level.
She is also thinking about doing criminal justice next year.
The high school's criminal justice program is held in Berrien Springs and students get practical experience while working with law enforcement officers.
She might even be able to do a ride-along with officers on patrol.
The 17-year-old, who gave up playing school basketball this year to spend more time on her Advanced Placement History class, will attend the forum with basic knowledge of the court system.
Pelley said she has participated in school mock trial competitions that give students a chance to play roles involved in a court case.
But Pelley was unfortunately unable to play the role she wanted to.
Looking forward to the forum and meeting students with similar interests, Pelley hopes to make contacts and perhaps even developing new areas of professional interest while at the forum.
Pelley, however, is a little intimidated to meet law professionals present at the forum; some of which happen to be Supreme Court judges.
Only 17, Pelley knows her dream job.
She said her parents are proud to see her attending the forum.
But making the trip is not free.
Pelley, however, said she has been able to successfully apply for scholarships that covers most of her $1,200 forum expenses.
Not included in the scholarships is money for professional business suits, which she no doubt will need.

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