Typically graduation is a time to celebrate graduates. For Rob Ransom, who will earn his J.D. from Rutgers Law School on May 19, his own graduation is an opportunity to encourage success in others. In lieu of graduation gifts, Ransom, a Howard University alumnus, is raising funds to implement an ambitious computer science curriculum for kindergartners through fifth graders in schools in the City of Camden.
“As opposed to a graduation party, I’d rather people give to something that matters,” says the Rutgers Law School student.
Why the investment in computer science? According to Ransom, New Jersey has a promising tech industry and preparing Camden youth with computer science skills can have positive implications for their future employment.“There are predictions of this region becoming the health tech Silicon Valley of the East Coast,” he says. “Why not prepare kids growing up in the inner-city for this market? And kids in Camden could create apps to solve some of the problems they face.”
“I wanted to start young and reinforce computer science into every area of learning,” says Ransom. “The programs work like video games and make kids excited about learning to code. By fifth grade, every student at LEAP and other Camden schools will be reading and writing code, if not earlier.”
In addition to learning the law, Ransom is learning to read and write code himself by taking computer science classes online, which he has done in tandem to his legal education. “Like anything, if you put time into it, you get the hang of it. I just wish I was exposed to it a lot earlier.”
While at Rutgers Law, Ransom was busy not just learning code, but excelling in law school life. He was selected as an Eagleton Fellow, which is a one-year award granted by the Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics that is comprised of a three-credit seminar in politics in the fall and a 15-hour per week internship in the spring. In the summer of his 1L year, he interned for U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno, a 1978 alumnus of Rutgers Law, and clerked at the law firm Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoades. In addition, he clerked at Archer & Greiner, joining his mentor Lloyd Freeman, a 2007 alumnus of the law school and current chancellor of the Camden location’s alumni association.
According to Freeman, Ransom has enormous potential for the legal profession, which will only be enhanced by his passion to do justice not just for the people of Camden, but for vulnerable populations on a larger scale.
“Robert is carrying on the Rutgers Law tradition of making an actual investment in our community,” says Freeman. “I am so proud to have him join our alumni ranks and look forward to working with him on the coding project.”
After graduation, Ransom will begin clerking with the Hon. Michael Blee in Mays Landing, but ultimately anticipates working at a firm. The firm he chooses will ideally allow him to continue on his altruistic path.
“I want to be at a firm that still permits me to be in the community at a level that matters,” says Ransom. “I want to influence change, but feel connected to people. I don’t want to get far away from what people care about.”
With such a focus on computer science and its implications for job growth, how has law school played a part in leveraging Ransom’s goals for making social change?
“You make change through policy,” he says. “You make change through laws through legislation and the process of litigation. During law school, I’ve seen real-life implications of winning arguments. It makes you realize that the investment made on law school is worth it.”