Jennifer Ives ’13 has proved that it really is possible to get hired with an English degree. After graduating in May, she has been working at The Innocence Project, a non-profit, pro-bono law firm that helps prove prisoners innocent using DNA testing, along with two other Wes Alums — Liza Parisky ’12 and Jo Oh ’09. The firm was founded in 1992 and as of date, there have been 311 innocent prisoners released due to DNA testing. Of these 311, the prisoners served an average of 13 years behind bars, with some spending as many as 25 years, and 18 prisoners have served time on death row. Ives contacted us because she will be running the NYC Marathon with colleagues from the IP to raise money for the cause — you can find her fundraising page here. I decided to ask her a few questions about the IP.
What did you major in at Wesleyan?
I majored in English, though I also took a fair amount of Religion courses. After my time at Wes, I felt like I majored in everything– I got a taste of so many different disciplines while there.
What was your favorite class at Wesleyan?
Religion and the Social Construction of Race with Elizabeth McAlister. Incredibly thought-provoking material and the most inspiring professor I’ve ever had.
How did you get involved in the IP?
I became interested in prison reform after a shocking experience I had this past spring. I had to testify in open court against two boys my age who had (albeit stupidly, and illegally) broken into my apartment in July of 2012. Despite the fact that they broke the law, the sentence they were handed down seemed extremely harsh to me considering their offense. I was deeply troubled by the outcome, especially since they were so close to my age. The negativity of the experience as a whole sparked my interest in prison reform and inspired me to research organizations that seek to fix the many problems plaguing our judicial system. The Innocence Project was one of the first organizations I found that really grabbed me. So after graduating this past May, I applied and was hired. I started working in June.