Founding of the American Constitution Club

                Cherish Derrickson and Anastasia Zevan are two juniors studying Political Science here at the University of Kentucky. Having met two years ago in their Writing, Rhetoric, & Digital Studies (WRD) 110 class and becoming instant friends, neither of them knew that they would come together and form a club that aimed to foster civil discourse and constitutional knowledge amongst UK undergrads. This spring marks a year from when the students first had the idea and have since been able to turn their ambition into action with the start of the Constitution Club that now meets monthly and has experienced steady membership growth.

                From Paris, Kentucky, Cherish isn’t too far away from home while she studies at UK. Aside from her Political Science major, she has a strong interest in sociology and “anything that has to do with people.” Anastasia comes from a bit further away, with St. Louis, Missouri being her home. In addition to her Political Science major, she is minoring in History, which she is currently focusing most of her coursework on. As juniors, the students have found their plans to attend law school drawing closer and closer. To apply for law school in the fall, the girls are currently studying for the LSAT with the intent of taking the exam this summer. Anastasia says it’s interesting, because even before coming to UK, she knew she would have to take the LSAT, but now it feels strange that the time has finally come. Cherish agrees, adding that the idea of studying for the LSAT while maintaining a good GPA appears intimidating, but knows once she begins studying, she’ll be more than fine.

                Both Anastasia and Cherish hope to use their careers as attorneys to make a real difference and impact. Coming from a major city, Anastasia would ideally like to work in a city such as Boston or Chicago after college. After establishing herself as a trial attorney in her desired field of civil law, she has a goal of becoming a judge. She says that judges have a much larger influence on people in their day-to-day lives than they are often given credit for. Cherish too, wants to relocate after graduation, and like Anastasia, is willing to go wherever a good job takes her. In addition to practicing law, Cherish also sees teaching in her future, whether it be before or after law school. Her long-term career goal focuses on work in the criminal justice system, with a focus on rehabilitation.

                Given both Cherish and Anastasia want careers in law that have a widespread impact, it only makes sense these determined students would start a club with the same goal in mind. The idea for the American Constitution Club has an interesting origin story. Encouraged by political science professor, Dr. Zillis, Cherish and Anastasia attended a talk about the Constitution, which was hosted by a UK Law School organization. The talk made Cherish and Anastasia realize there was not a place to talk about the Constitution in a non-partisan way, and there was not a space at all for undergrads to talk about the Constitution. This sparked the creation of the American Constitution Club. The mission behind the club is multi-purposed. One, the club is meant to encourage undergraduates to begin thinking in a law-type mindset before law school. With the club being discussion-based, they hope to talk with a non-partisan focus that allows all ideas to be heard and discussed. Cherish and Anastasia also want the club to be a place for students to come together and become more civically involved. Not only is the club opened to all majors, but the founders encourage non-political science majors to join. The two envision the club as a great space for people of different backgrounds, friend groups, and political affiliation to get to know one another.

                Currently, each club meeting focuses on a court case where the attendees then discuss the decision made on the case or the possible decisions if the case has yet to be decided. Anastasia and Cherish have already come up with new ideas for the club, including registering students to vote, bringing in guest speakers, and student development, including events to prepare students to take the LSAT. The two girls are currently working on recruiting new members and retaining current members. While they have found challenges in recruiting people with different majors and interests, the club has seen a growth in members each meeting. The students say that one of the most exciting things about the club is seeing people who they wouldn’t have expected to come, show up to their meetings.

                When the soon-to-be- seniors were asked how they would like to see the club continued after they graduate, both agreed that they want it to be something that exists longer than their time at UK. They said their overall mission is to make students aware of how the Supreme Court and Constitution affect every aspect of their lives. They noted that court cases aren’t ever going to stop, and politics aren’t ever going to stop, so the hope is that conversations surrounding these topics don’t stop at UK either.

                Knowing the importance of relationships in developing a meaningful experience in college, Cherish tells incoming freshman to “make friends because they help.” She says if there’s a difficult subject in class that she doesn’t know, her friend knows it. If her friend doesn’t know it, they’ll figure it out together. Anastasia emphasized the importance of connecting with your professors. These relationships, she says, can carry you far. For example, Anastasia and Cherish took Dr. Zillis’ class a year ago, and to this day, he is still sharing opportunities with them. Both students want to extend their relationships beyond the border of UK and hope to have alumni come back and speak at their club meetings and share their experiences.


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