Shatoria Means was inspired by CSI: Miami to work in the legal field, specifically for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). She received a Bachelor's of Science in Criminology from Florida State University in 2006. After graduation, she began training for the police academy, but her mother pleaded with her not to pursue that path. Instead, she took an office job with an insurance company and quickly learned that the world of corporate insurance was not for her.
Focused on her desire to help people, she searched for a career that provided her this opportunity. She discovered the Dependency Court system and began her career at the Guardian ad Litem Program, working her way through the ranks as an Assistant Case Manager, Guardian ad Litem, Case Manager, House Manager, and Court Liaison. In each of her roles, Shatoria worked to fully understand each case, listened to each side, and made her recommendations as to what she felt was best for the child. She focused on dependency issues, and worked tirelessly on family reunification, becoming a strong voice for children. "These are not cookie-cutter cases," she explains. "Each has a unique set of circumstances and need to be evaluated carefully. Working to fix the problem is definitely one option, but working to prevent the problem, that's efficient. That's what I want to do." She knew that in order to influence real change, she had to become an attorney and advocate for those who didn't have a voice. Shatoria decided to pursue her J.D. degree.
At an NSU Law information session, Shatoria met Miguel Hernandez, Assistant Director of Admissions, and Marsheila Bryant, Financial Aid Manager, who, she explains, "took the time to explain what law school required, both time-wise, and financially. They considered my personal circumstances and together, we came up with a plan that was tailored to fit my needs." At the time, Shatoria's daughter was very young, and disposable income was limited. She started law school full time, but in her third year, changed to the part-time program. "The flexibility at NSU Law was a huge plus for me."
The one-on-one, student-centered academic experience didn't end there. After being accepted to NSU Law, Shatoria joined the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and eventually became their President. At an event hosted by BLSA, Shatoria was introduced to Nancy Abudu, the Director of Legal Operations for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, by Cynthia Duval, Associate Director of Career and Professional Development at NSU Law. The ACLU works to protect the rights and liberties of individuals that are guaranteed by the Constitution. Coincidentally, Abudu was searching for a student intern, but hadn't found the right fit. Abudu quickly arranged for herself and two other attorneys to interview Shatoria.
Professor Phyllis Coleman, a mentor, and Professor Cross, who coaches Shatoria's International Negotiations Team, provided letters of recommendation. Shatoria's Legal Research and Writing professor, Professor Levy, reviewed her writing sample, and Professor Masinter helped prepare her with a mock interview. "Even before I began my studies here, I knew I could expect phenomenal support from the faculty. They helped me prepare and provided me with the confidence I needed." Shatoria nailed the interview and began her internship that summer. "The internship allowed me to use my education in a practical way. That was powerful!"
"My motto is Carpe Diem. The faculty and staff have equipped me with the tools I need to seize the opportunities afforded to me and reach my goal of becoming an attorney. That's exactly what they did for me with the internship of my dreams, and that's exactly what I'm sure they'll continue doing for the students at NSU Law."