Moraine Park Presents 2022 Community Partner Award

Pictured above: Moraine Park President Bonnie Baerwald (right) presents the 2022 Community Partnership Award to Rebecca Rapp (left) of Ascendium Lawyers for Learners.

Moraine Park Technical College has presented Ascendium Education Group and Legal Action of Wisconsin with its 2022 Community Partnership Award for their work on Lawyers for Learners. This award recognizes a community partner organization who has gone above and beyond in the role of working with Moraine Park students in student community impact opportunities.

Lawyers for Learners helps students and community members overcome legal obstacles, empowering them to move forward with their lives and achieve educational and career goals. Legal Action of WI and other legal-aid partners provide free legal services to students and low-income community members who would otherwise be unable to secure legal help.  Since 2020, MPTC has partnered with Lawyers for Learners to offer free legal clinics for our students and community members, service learning opportunities for paralegal and criminal justice students, and student internships.

MPTC Dean of Technology & Trades Bobbi Fields expressed gratitude for this 2022 community partnership: 

“While there were many, many wonderful student reflections and contributions from community partners this past school year, Legal Action and Ascendium did an amazing job providing opportunities for students across multiple programs to engage in a positive service-learning experience. More so, these students worked with the community partner to provide a very impactful legal service to our extended MPTC community! They truly were, and continue to be, excellent partners. I am happy that we are acknowledging them and hope that our collaborations continue to grow.”

Rebecca Rapp, General Counsel for Ascendium noted, “This is such an incredible honor!  Thank you! The Lawyers for Learners and Moraine Park partnership have been so gratifying.  Moraine Park’s tremendous team is fabulous to work with and such an important reason for Lawyers for Learners’ success at Moraine Park.  This award really means a lot.” 

Megan Sprecher, Attorney at Law for Legal Action of WI said, Wow, what an honor! Thank you so much. We truly appreciate your partnership and welcoming us into the MPTC fold!”  Megan also shared, “Recently, through our Legal Action/Lawyers for Learners work, an MPTC student obtained expungements for their two felony convictions, making it easier for them to find work in their field of study upon graduation. Another Moraine Park student’s driver’s license was reinstated, allowing them to drive to and from work and school lawfully and stop racking up expensive tickets.”  

Back Left to Right: MPTC Associate Dean Deb Clarke, Jasmine Loera – Ascendium Paralegal, MPTC Associate Dean Latisha Spence-Brookens, MPTC President Bonnie Baerwald, MPTC Community Impact Coordinator Anne Lemke, MPTC Dean Bobbi Fields, MPTC Equity and Engagement Specialist Jackie Morgan, Katie Chu – Ascendium Legal Project Specialist. Front Left to Right: Rebecca Rapp – Ascendium General Counsel, Claire Silverstein – Legal Action Paralegal, Megan Sprecher Legal Action Attorney

Some student words of reflection include:

“Before logging any service learning hours for this project, I recall being very nervous and doubtful. I did not know what to expect, and I felt that I was not capable of working side by side with a real attorney, and I remember that intimidated me a little bit! Then, I volunteered for the first time. I volunteered for the Urban Expungement Clinic, and worked with many of my peers, which put me at ease. Some of these clients were convicted of a crime they did not deserve in my opinion, and they were now facing some life barriers because of it. Overall, after my first clinic, I felt 100% more at ease and confident, and I really learned a lot more than just law. I learned the importance of empathy when working with these clients, and the importance of being a good listener to the troubles they have faced, because those barricades will help the case.”

“I found this clinic to be very interesting and eye-opening. I enjoyed it so much. I worked with Jim’s team. He had so much insight and knowledge on different laws and how certain options could be more beneficial to the clients. It was amazing to see someone with so much passion for what they do.  I didn’t realize all the different ways certain situations could put different resources at play for individuals. It was refreshing to see how people can come together and use their skill set to help another person. I think the experience was very enlightening and gave me a good glimpse at what I could possibly be doing in a future career. I am excited to go forth in the community and put my knowledge to use helping people.”

“I feel like the work I did actually does help the client I did the records request for. Rather than spending hours doing in class work which has a very limited impact on the real world. Of course, they’re preparing us for the real world but the work I do for class has no impact on anyone. Volunteering my time in the legal clinics actually does help someone. It fills me with a certain pride knowing that I’m applying the skills I’ve learned in class to real-life scenarios.  For me, it’s hard to gauge whether I’ve actually taken something away from classes or if I just memorized information to pass the class. But I feel like through this simple exercise I’ve actually learned a lot from my classes and applied that knowledge.  I’m excited to continue to volunteer at the clinics.”

“I also really appreciated the attorney’s advice about looking for jobs after graduation. It was also really inspirational to see someone successful in the legal field who still took the time to volunteer their free time to help others.”

Written by Anne Lemke
Student Community Impact Coordinator