Volunteer Highlight: Carrie Templeton

Carrie's PhotoBack in 2009, as an undergraduate student at Hanover College, Carrie Templeton started to think seriously about what she might want to do once she graduated in 2011. At the time, she was looking for guidance and some practical work experience; thus, her father arranged a professional meeting with the wife of a long-time co-worker: Ida Coleman Lamberti. Ida worked as an immigration attorney and was a committed volunteer at Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, helping hundreds of refugees and their family members obtain legal permanent residence in the United States. Upon witnessing Ida’s passion and the sheer magnitude of her generosity of time and skill, Carrie applied and was accepted as a summer intern at the Legal Clinic.

By the end of the summer, though her internship was over, Carrie was filled with a new certainty of where she wanted her life to go after college. Her time at the Clinic was convicting, revealing to her just how many people “don’t have the ability to understand the law [or to] make it work for them.” For her, educational opportunities were readily available—just as they always had been—but now, such privileges also connoted responsibility. She explains her more-nuanced purpose by saying, “The Clinic helped me see how I could leverage those opportunities in a way to help others.” And so, upon graduation from Hanover, Carrie started her first year of law school.

In 2012, she found her way back to the Clinic. This time as a summer associate, working alongside—and in close quarters with—seven other law students. Carrie recalls this experience fondly, saying, “I had a great time learning with the others and getting to know each of them. It made for a summer that just flew by.” The knowledge and skills she developed during these weeks were inlaid with intricate aspirations. She says, “The Clinic helped me realize the variety of ways there are to worship. It made me see that I didn’t have to separate the professional part of my life from…my faith and that they could enrich each other.” These two seemingly incompatible pursuits were now clearly working most effectively and edifyingly in tandem.

Once Carrie received her law degree and passed the bar, she returned again to the Legal Clinic to volunteer. No longer a young college student uncertain of her path in life, she now worked as an attorney on the same type of immigration cases with which she assisted Ida five years earlier.

Recently, Carrie began a full-time job working in the Department of Child Services in Wayne County where she helps represent the best interests of children who might otherwise be voiceless. This position means she has less time to take on volunteer cases—but there is no reason to believe this is goodbye. Carrie never stays away from the Legal Clinic for too long. Indeed, perhaps one day, years from now, she will introduce some smart, but still-searching undergraduate to the same world in which she has become so thoroughly and happily rooted.