Devin Heard is a Citizen Scholar majoring in Humanities-Prelaw with a minor in Leadership of Organizations and is graduating this spring. His post-graduation plans are to move to Virginia where he will work as a Business Development Consultant for the software giant, Oracle. As his career begins, he says he plans to give himself two years for which to decide whether he will pursue an MBA or Juris Doctor degree. But for now, he is celebrating having completed his bachelor’s degree and has taken the time to answer these questions about his time at MSU:
What opportunities have your major and minor given you?
In addition to legal studies and familiarizing myself with the legal procedures, dynamics, and skills necessary, the humanities portion of my major program has offered me opportunities within the liberal arts, focusing on areas like philosophy and political science. Leadership of Organizations as a minor has provided me insights to organizational communication psychology and leadership with some focus on human resources. These disciplines and focuses have provided me with education/experience to have an open mind as it relates to corporate communication opportunities and leadership with the ability to be acquainted with the legal field if I pursue a Juris Doctor degree.
Did you complete any research during your time at MSU?
I conducted research on the inefficiencies of public defenders in the United States. Needless to say, this relates to my prelaw background, and it acquainted me with the legislative and functional issues within the legal field of which I anticipate being a part of. Beyond my interest in community and enacting impactful change as a Citizen Scholar, this effort gave me a sense of duty and awareness I would have to acknowledge if I were to become an attorney.
Did you have any study abroad or study away experiences?
I had the opportunity to participate in a summer-long legal exploration program during the summer of my sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. There, I had a crash course in all things first-year law students experience like a legal writing course, constitutional law, criminal law, etc. This gave me an idea of what it would be like to attend law school, the rigor, the focus, and the disciplines necessary to be successful. I also was given the opportunity to see how practicing law would be within the program as it relates to practicing in a civil, private, and specialized capacity.
What internships and jobs have you had during your time at MSU?
I worked as a Legal Intern for the Michigan Court of Appeals where I analyzed and presented various pending child abuse cases, observed legal procedure and hearings, formulated and presented possible rulings for assigned cases based on legal statute and precedent, and honed logic and reasoning skills while synthesizing sound arguments based on legal research and analysis. I also worked for the City of Detroit Department of Neighborhoods where I partnered with district managers to improve and maintain the quality of life for residents and organized community events/forums. At MSU, I worked at the College of Law Library where I aided in book processing, shelving, and organizing the library collection, and I served as a College of Arts & Letters Career Peer Intern and helped offer advising services to 2,000+ undergraduate peers. I also was part of the Community Engagement Scholars Program where I assisted partner community organizations to enhance engagement and outreach and helped lead a virtual campaign via social media and Zoom encouraging MSU community voter turnout and societal awareness.
Why did you join Citizen Scholars?
It is easy to have a selfish experience as an undergraduate. Between studying, trying to land a career and a cushy role post-graduation, it’s easy to get lost in what you want without giving back to the communities and organizations of which you have benefitted. I view Citizen Scholars as my supplemental opportunity/education to be more aware of the world around me, my place in it, and understand how I can serve and give back.
How has the Citizen Scholars program enhanced your MSU education?
Because of this program, I have truly expanded my interests/awareness beyond my own self-involvement. This helps solidify my sense of community and purpose within the context of the MSU community, Detroit community, College of Arts & Letters community, and what my advocacy and purpose should be in any workplace or environment in the future. This program has taught me to be an advocate wherever I am and never be afraid to initiate change.
What has been the most impactful part of the Citizen Scholars program?
I enjoyed the camaraderie and close-knit community most of all. Although the College of Arts & Letters is a relatively small college, it does not guarantee that everyone is close with one another. This program enabled us to learn from one another, grow together, and work together from the courses and cohort. A rapport and familiar face can go a long way.
How do you think Citizen Scholars will help you in your career?
This program has given me the opportunity to be involved in things beyond myself. Furthermore, my leadership abilities have greatly strengthened because leadership cannot truly be effective if it begins and ends with me. Because of my experience with this program and its emphasis on advocacy and inclusivity, I understand the importance of bringing out the best in everyone involved, and when everyone can grow, share, contribute, and thrive is when true success and change can occur. I carry that sentiment with me wherever I go. This will make me a dynamic asset to any career path or organization I choose. This level of humanity is something a liberal arts education provides.
Were you involved with any clubs or organizations?
I was involved with Rising Black Men, a mentorship organization that encourages unity amongst young Black men/first-generation college students on MSU’s campus. This organization was my family away from home and provided me with professional support and friendship. I also was a member of Kappa Alpha Pi-Pre Law Fraternity, where I have many great and loving memories made with this group.
How has COVID affected your college experience?
Unfortunately, I was forced to spend my senior year off campus and back home in Detroit. I have not had as much opportunity to spend time with friends and make a more impactful presence before I leave MSU, however, I must acknowledge my privilege. I have not contracted the virus, my closest loved ones and friends have not either, so I have not lost anyone, and everyone is healthy. I missed out on a great internship opportunity that could have led to full-time employment with Blue Cross Blue Shield as a Corporate Governance Intern, however, I gained another internship that fulfilled my needs and enabled me to have a good experience despite COVID. Nonetheless, I have still landed a full-time position post-graduation as a Business Development Consultant with the software giant, Oracle. This role consists of corporate sales with a huge opportunity for growth and leadership as I establish a formal career, life, and purpose before deciding whether an MBA/JD is in my future.
Do you have any parting words you’d like to share with the university?
Thank you, Michigan State University, the College of Arts & Letters, and The Excel Network for giving me the opportunity to make a difference in my life, my family, and community. Education is the door to many opportunities and, as a first-generation college student, this means a lot for me to have had the support to be successful my entire academic career and build a substantive professional background within these four years. My efforts were rigorous, but it would not have been possible without the MSU community. Special thanks to Laura Essig, Christie Schichtel, Maggie Harris, Kate Rendi, Dan Meier, and LaDonna Croffe for their support.