Abenezer Solomon ’14 (Brooklyn, N.Y) aspires to have a career in which he battles injustice and inequality in our society.
This summer, he gained experience doing just that as an intern with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in New York City.
A double major in government & law and anthropology & sociology, Solomon worked to combat discrimination in the work place. He was paired with an investigator who taught him how to examine complaints of Title VI (prevents discrimination by agencies that receive federal funds), Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or Environmental Protection Agency violations to see if there were grounds for legal action. These detailed complaints could range anywhere from two to 200 pages long. Once Solomon investigated a complaint, he constructed a case analysis, sent notice to the charging party of his findings, and indicated whether the charging party had a right to sue.
“At the end of the internship,” Solomon says, “I had gone through almost 30 cases—22 on my own—and closed about 8 or 9 cases.”
Solomon believes that the internship complemented his two majors “perfectly.” Knowledge of legal rights was necessary for his investigations, and from an anthropological standpoint, he gained an understanding of the way discrimination functions in our society.
“For example, why do people discriminate?” he says. “Where would you likely find discrimination? How can you end discrimination? This internship helped me to see some issues that do exist, not just in workplaces but all around us.”
His favorite part of the experience, he says, was just coming into work and seeing throngs of people passionate about social justice.
“Every morning I saw people working together and doing something they love to do, fighting discrimination in workplaces,” he says.
In addition to learning how to investigate cases of workplace discrimination, Solomon learned other skills, like how to conduct an interrogation and how to make connections for finding a job in a federal institution. These will prove vital for Solomon, who plans to pursue a career in politics or law enforcement. He says the internship has definitely steered him to focus on issues of social policy.
On campus, he participates in Kaleidoscope—Lafayette’s social justice peer education group—as well as the Lafayette African Caribbean Student Association and the Precision Step Team.