Alumni Spotlight – Jeryl Hayes ’04

Meet Jeryl Hayes, a 2004 graduate of Denison University who is now working as the Movement Building Director at If/When/How, a national network of legal professionals and law students dedicated to promoting reproductive justice. In her current role, Jeryl teaches aspiring lawyers and other legal professionals how to better advance the mission of reproductive justice through law.

Jeryl graduated Denison in 2004 as a Communications major and Spanish minor. Her extracurricular involvement was extensive. She worked as a Residential Advisor in the Office of Residential Communities and Housing, now known as a Community Advisor. In addition, she worked for the Office of Admissions giving tours and interviewing prospective students. She was also a co-governor for DCGA, a member of Ladies Night Out (LNO), and a DJ at the Doobie.

After her time on the Hill, Jeryl went to the workforce for four years before attending law school to pursue her Juris Doctor and Masters of Law. Jeryl attributes her dedication to law and smooth transition from the workforce to law school to the academic vigor and extracurricular involvements at Denison. Denison equipped her with time management skills that proved to be incredibly helpful in her current role and other facets of her life such as volunteer work.

Jeryl will be the first to tell you that the hard and soft skills she was able to gain during her time on the Hill led her to her dream job. If/When/How is an organization not only tailored to her strengths as a lawyer, but it is an organization dedicated to reproductive justice, a topic in which she’s passionate about.

She’ll admit herself, she did not even know a social justice lawyer was a career option; but navigating the workforce, going to law school, and taking each opportunity opened her eyes to numerous career paths that she did not even know existed:

“Be open to what opportunities come up even if they may be different than the pathway you envisioned for yourself. There’s something to be learned from every internship opportunity, every job opportunity.”

And for those in the audience debating between going straight into a graduate or law program, or taking a break, Jeryl highly recommends taking that break:

“I encourage people who are considering graduate school to take time off. There’s a lot to learn about how the real world works that you can then bring into your graduate work.”

If you ever have any questions about social justice law, postgraduate programs, or general career advice, Jeryl is more than happy to help. Her email is always open (jeryl.hayes@gmail.com) and she’s always happy to connect via LinkedIn

By Taylor Trimble
Taylor Trimble Peer Career Fellow: Nonprofit, Education and Government