Caitlin Ajax '17 grew up between Montana and Wyoming. At the University of Montana in Missoula, the political science student studied Arabic language and international relations. She took a job in Washington, D.C., after graduating with her bachelor's degree, and worked for a human rights nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of women's rights in America and Muslim-majority countries.
After a year in Washington, Caitlin moved to Chicago to be with her husband, who is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago. There, Caitlin spent a year working as a research assistant in Islamic bioethics, all while applying to law school.
"I knew I wanted to attend law school in a large legal market," she said, "which Chicago is." She also wanted accessible experiential learning opportunities. "I chose Chicago-Kent because it served all those needs," she said, "and was highly respected by all the attorneys I networked with in Chicago."
This past summer, Caitlin worked as a summer associate at Schiff Hardin LLP, a large Loop law firm. Last summer, she worked as a Public Interest Law Initiative intern for the Legal Assistance Foundation in their Children and Families Division.
Through Chicago-Kent's Legal Externship Program, Caitlin externed in fall 2015 with the U.S. Attorney's Office, where she worked with a trial team on a high-profile public corruption case. The following semester, she worked for the Honorable Matthew F. Kennelly of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, this time as part of the law school's Judicial Externship Program.
As a member of the Moot Court Honor Society, Caitlin placed second in Chicago-Kent's 2015 Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition. In spring 2016, she was named National Best Advocate in the national finals of the American Bar Association's National Appellate Advocacy Competition. In addition to moot court, she serves as a notes and comments editor on the Chicago-Kent Law Review.
A full-time student entering her third year, Caitlin formerly served as president of the Muslim Law Students Association, a small group consisting of about 10 students. The group participates in many diversity events on campus, and works to provide community and promote the professional development of Muslim law students at Chicago-Kent.
"Diverse student groups, including Muslims, help provide avenues of understanding. It's about raising awareness, comfort and familiarity levels among our colleagues with regard to our faith," Caitlin said.
The observance of Ramadan, for instance, "allows gateways of understanding. It's up to the individuals who are part of a particular institution, like a law school or law firm, to put principles of inclusion into action. It can and should be done. You just have to be creative."
Although Caitlin started law school thinking she might end up working in public interest law (she was involved in the Kent Justice Foundation her first year), she sees her future as a litigator, either with a large law firm or with government, or moving back and forth. "I'm currently interested in regulatory practice, government investigations, and federal enforcement litigation."
She also enjoys the adversarial process.
"It's fun to solve complex client problems. That's what being a lawyer is all about," she said. "And I love working with people."
Although she's had great relationships with all her professors, she credits Professor Kent Streseman, director of the Ilana Diamond Rovner Program in Appellate Advocacy, with "being a great mentor."
Caitlin loves studying law and policy, and she isn't sure when, if ever, she'll be able to resume some of her extracurricular interests. "I used to be a bass player and vocalist in several rock bands when I was younger," she said. "And I love all equestrian sports. Ever since I was a little girl, I've always been in love with horses."