Confidence and Clarity

Janaiya Banks '19

Janaiya Banks ’19 

Janaiya Banks ’19 knows she wants to make a difference. After Dickinson, she plans to become a public defender for juveniles and write policies that will help change the system. Below, Banks talks about her research, internships, biggest influences and more.


Africana studies and law & policy.

Clubs and organizations:

Black Student Union, MOB, Devils’ Advocates Student Philanthropy Council, Writing Center and F.R.U.I.T. (co-founder and chair).


Posse Foundation scholarship.

Favorite dining hall food:

Sriracha chicken nuggets! This was the first meal I had when I visited Dickinson, so it has a special place in my heart.

On choosing a major:

Growing up, almost every class was taught from a Eurocentric perspective, and that did not really represent my experiences or me. So I knew that in college, I wanted something different, which is why I chose Africana studies. Honestly, I was tired of my history being only taught as an elective, and I realized that I could have the best of both worlds by combining my love of the law with the love of my people. Being a double major allows me to practice my transdisciplinary skills, because each of these majors takes different approaches.

On internships:

I interned at a law firm, Chadbourne and Parke LLC, and at a Wall Street bank, Deutsche Bank. At the law firm, I interned in recruiting, and at the bank, I interned in the internal audit division. This summer I will intern at the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, where I’ll work in the human-resources department.

Through these internships, I’ve learned what it means to be a part of corporate America. I have learned how to walk, talk and even email in a way that exudes confidence and clarity. I also learned that networking is the key to business and that first impressions can quickly turn into last impressions.

Proudest accomplishment:

My proudest accomplishment is getting a Posse Foundation scholarship and going to college. Looking back at my grade-school journals, I see the promises I made myself about getting a college scholarship, and I am proud to say that I was able to make those dreams a reality. However, people were there for me along the way to help make that happen, especially my parents and my siblings. Without them, I would not be here.

Biggest influence:

My family has been the biggest influence in my life. They have taught me that even if it feels like the world is collapsing around you, family is something you can always count on. My siblings have inspired me by paying for their undergraduate degrees themselves, sometimes working three jobs just to make their payments. My oldest brother has shown me tenacity and determination like no other. For my parents, words cannot explain how they have shaped my work ethic and my love ethic.

Most important thing I’ve learned:

It’s extremely important to think for myself at all times. I cannot follow groupthink; I have to make my own decisions about classes, friends and life overall. Speaking up about things that affect me negatively is the only way that those things can change. I have learned that it is OK to need help and that there is no shame in asking for it.

About my research:

During my Social Justice in the African American Imagination class, I met with ex-offenders in Carlisle to learn about their experiences and also contacted several companies to hear about their hiring processes. I then compiled a list of places that would hire ex-offenders in the greater Carlisle area. This project was assigned to me by my professor, because it linked my two majors.

I learned that the American employment system makes it difficult for ex-offenders to avoid re-offending, because there is a lack of jobs available to them.

About my internship:

This summer I am interning at The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), which reportedly stands "at the center of global trading activity, processing trillions of dollars of securities transactions on a daily basis." As an intern with the Total Rewards team, I support the Compensation, Health and Welfare and Retirement teams and work on related projects.

Plans for life after Dickinson:

After Dickinson, I plan to go to law school and become a public defender for juveniles who get ridiculous amounts of jail time for minor offenses. I also am interested in post-incarceral employment—what happens after an inmate is released, and how they are reintegrated back into society. These inmates often experience a new type of imprisonment in which they have no chance for social mobility. I hope to be able to write policies that will help change that.

Advice to fellow students:

Go on service trips! These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to not only do service across the nation, but also to meet fellow Dickinsonians and grow your network of support.

Final word:

I would like to give a huge shout-out to N.Y. Posse 15! Two years in and two more to go! We came in together and we will finish together!

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Published June 22, 2017