Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) 2018 alumna Calvana Cedant has a purpose on this earth to advocate for others, inspire future leaders, and grow organizations she truly believes in. Her path to law school began early on and she has since worked hard to achieve her goals. She was a part of the pre-law magnet program in high school, obtained her undergraduate degree from Clark Atlanta University, and then transitioned to AJMLS where she became actively involved with the school and the community. Through hard work and dedication she was able to turn her dreams into a reality and now works as an Assistant Public Defender for the Henry County Public Defender’s Office.
When asked about her path to law school, her career, and her favorite part about what she does, Calvana stated:
I come from a single mother household of five children. I saw many people from the community I grew up in be processed through the Criminal Justice System and did not understand or know their rights in regards to the criminal court system. I did not grow up knowing one attorney or anyone in the military, and so I set out in life to be both. I have felt this purpose since I was twelve years old and have not deviated from this path since I realized I wanted to be an attorney. I attended Fort Lauderdale High School, a school with a Pre-Law magnet program. In the magnet program, I took Pre-Law courses and I joined the debate team. I graduated with a pre-law high school diploma and moved on to Clark Atlanta University.
Clark Atlanta University would be my next milestone in life, almost 900 miles away from Pompano Beach, Florida and no family in Atlanta, Georgia; I was ready to conquer the unknown. I went from being freshman class secretary to the Vice President of the Political Science Association. During college in February 2012, I joined the United States Army in hopes of graduating from law school and becoming part of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Joining the Army has been one of the best decisions I ever made. I was the first person in my family to serve in the military and I am currently the only member of my family serving in the military. I enjoy the Army because it gives me a sense of purpose and usefulness.
After graduating from Clark Atlanta University I quickly transitioned to Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS). During my matriculation through law school, I went from being Student Body Representative for the Criminal Justice Honors Program to being the President of the Veterans Law Student Association. I enjoyed the student organizations at AJMLS because of the diversity of each organization. I was a member of the Criminal Law Association, the Black Law Student Association, and I became a member of Phi Alpha Delta Fraternity. I was fortunate enough to work as a student coordinator in the Office of Student Affairs and Pro Bono Programs. In the office I was able to work closely with the Street Law Program at Booker T. Washington High School preparing students for a mock trial, and personally mentoring students throughout the program.
While in law school I saw how difficult it was for some students to complete the first year. So during my third year of law school I served as a peer mentor to three first year law students, two of which I am now providing guidance for the July 2019 Georgia bar examination. At AJMLS, I also enjoyed volunteering with the Fort McPherson Veterans Clinic assisting Veterans who needed legal assistance in civil and criminal matters. It’s not a surprise that most of the work that I have done so far in my life has been in the best interest and advancement of someone else. In May 2018, I graduated from AJMLS and began preparing for the Georgia bar examination. In October of 2018 I graduated from the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorney’s professional development academy. The academy provided intensive professional and personal development training for people in the legal profession. Also, in October 2018 I passed the Georgia bar and made my dream come true. I was sworn in to practice law and also selected for the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
In December 2018, I accepted a position with the Henry County Public Defender’s Office and I am still with this office. My current job as an Assistant Public Defender is to be an advocate for indigent clients that deserve zealous representation. I analyze all assigned felony cases, and preform legal research to help advance my client’s case or legal position. I also advise clients of identified defenses and recommend appropriate course of actions for their case. Through our office I have the privilege of being a part of the Henry County Veterans Court team. I assist clients who served in the United States Military be considered for the program. If accepted their mental health or drug dependency issues are addressed and their successful completion of the program can be in lieu of confinement. I have many more duties as an Assistant Public Defender but my favorite part about my career is being an advisor and educator to my clients. I truly enjoy the attorneys and staff I work with. I am challenged and learning something new every day.
My current hobbies consist of traveling when I can and mentoring young girls with aspirations of becoming an attorney. My advice for aspiring lawyers and law students is to be intentional! When you set a goal, when you make a plan, and when you make a life decision always be intentional. Law school is not easy but it is not impossible. Where I am in life is solely because I had faith and was intentional about my life choices and decisions. I am living proof that your dreams can become reality!
The Law School is proud of the work and dedication Calvana has, and we look forward to celebrating her continued success!