Colin Powell School
Class of 2023 Salutatorian Nija Daniels
Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?
I come from a family of Jamaican immigrants who sacrificed their education for greater economic opportunities in the United States. Growing up in East Elmhurst, Queens, I was inspired by my three sisters, especially my older sister who was the first in our family to receive a bachelor's degree. My involvement in community service groups, political campaigns, and youth programs further fueled my passion for making a positive impact in underprivileged communities.
Through my personal, professional, and academic experiences, I have developed a keen interest in business law. I believe that business law has the power to support under-resourced entrepreneurs, create generational wealth in marginalized communities, and alleviate poverty on a global scale. My goal is to use my knowledge and skills in business law to bring about positive change in the world.
What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?
I am currently pursuing a major in International Studies with a concentration in Comparative Public Policy, with minors in English and Human Rights. My passion for global history and its impact on present-day institutions was sparked during an AP Global History class I took during my senior year of high school at The Renaissance Charter School. This experience motivated me to become a globally conscious individual, eager to understand how political, economic, and social systems differ from my reality. My minors in English and Human Rights have helped me hone my analytical and practical writing skills, which I believe will be invaluable in my future legal career.
Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?
My career goals, visions, and ambitions are constantly evolving as I gain new experiences and opportunities. Through my acceptance into fellowships and honors programs under the Colin Powell School, I honed my skills and gained valuable internship experience. Over the last few years, I interned with domestic and international organizations, such as the Urban Justice Center and the Federation of National Organizations Working with the Homeless. After engaging in work related to public policy, research, and law, I am now eager to pursue a career in transactional law, specifically focusing on aiding entrepreneurs with contract and legal agreement drafting.
What are your post-graduation plans?
After graduation, I will work as a full-time intern at the Center for Women & Enterprise to assist women entrepreneurs in beginning and expanding their businesses by providing legal resources, assistance with certification, and connections with corporations. After working as a paralegal in transactional law, I intend to go to law school to further my education. I’m thinking about applying to Fordham School of Law, Duke Law School, and Penn State Law.
Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.
I was eager to join a pre-law club to gain guidance and support in my career aspirations. However, to my dismay, I discovered that there was no such club on campus, and there hadn't been one for several years. Despite my participation in other clubs, I felt that my career development was lacking, and I longed to connect with like-minded individuals. With a passion for legal equality and a desire to help my peers pursue their interests, I took it upon myself to create a Pre-Law Club at CCNY. It was not an easy task, as I had to send countless emails in search of a faculty advisor who would support our vision. After persistent efforts, I finally received a positive response from a professor who was willing to take a chance on us and provide guidance. With the dedication of my hardworking executive board, we have successfully fostered understanding, learning, and appreciation of law among our 156 club members. Our primary goal is to introduce them to various legal careers, such as environmental law, medical law, and criminal law, among others. We hope that our members will develop their passion for social justice and align it with their careers in law.
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
CCNY is a remarkable institution that offers a unique and diverse community that promotes social and economic mobility for students from various backgrounds. However, like any university, the extent of your college experience depends on your willingness to take advantage of the opportunities available to you. Adapting to a new environment can be daunting for new students, but by familiarizing yourself with the campus, you can navigate CCNY and achieve all of your aspirations. CCNY offers a plethora of resources across all divisions, such as tutoring, the Career & Professional Development Institute, and fellowship programs, so it is essential to take advantage of these services. Additionally, there are various clubs and student organizations on campus that enable you to become an active member of the community. I hope students leave CCNY with the confidence, skills, and tools ready to conquer the world.
How would you describe CPS in three words?
Home, transformative, and legendary