Menu Toggle menu

Fellow Stories

Brittany Triggs, Class of 2019

“I am a Weaver Fellow because I have realized the law allows those with mental illness to fall through the cracks. As a fellow, I want to gain a better understanding of how that has happened. Even if I continue along my path of helping immigrants, women, and children, I will use what I have learned about mental illness to be a better advocate for my clients and help change the law for those with mental illness through advocacy.”


Rebecca Barnett, Class of 2018

"I decided to be a Weaver fellow so that I could learn more about the intersection between mental health and the law. As someone who has always been interested in Criminal Law, and currently working for the Ohio Innocence Project, it is integral to understand how the two relate. I want to learn more about people suffering from these issues so that I can better understand how to interact with them. I hope that my time as a Weaver fellow will help prepare me to better serve my future clients and be ready to grapple with these issues."


Tori Gooder, Class of 2019

“I desired to be a Weaver Fellow because of the unique opportunities. The Weaver Fellowship allows students to learn and better understand the complexities and obstacles present in the intersection between mental health and law. While I knew a little about mental health within the legal field, I wanted to learn more about the specifics such as the civil commitment process and the not guilty by reason of insanity defense. In addition to the academic classes, I wanted to gain exposure to how mental health and law intersect in a practical way by learning from magistrates and judges, visiting the probate court, and hearing from practicing psychiatrists. I would highly recommend the Weaver Fellowship to anyone who is interested in the interworking of the mental health and law."


Christina Rogers, Class of 2018 and a second year Weaver Fellow.

“I chose to be a Weaver Fellow because of the extremely rare opportunity it provides. As law students we get to collaborate across disciplines with the medical school and learn from each other. No matter what type of law you want to practice, mental health issues will always pop up. The fellowship gives you very practical hands-on experience and provides you with a large network most lawyers do not have access to (including judges and mental health professionals). Personally, as someone who is living with a mental disorder, I wanted to become a part of the fellowship to raise awareness of mental health issues and provide help to those that affected by mental illness like myself.”


Ben White, Class of 2018

“I joined the Weaver Program because I was interested in learning how the law intersects with other disciplines, especially in a discipline like psychiatry which serves vulnerable populations. The legal system is already intimidating, but to go through it with a mental illness would be even worse. The Weaver Program has taken my compassion for those with mental illness and added knowledge to equip me for helping vulnerable individuals navigate legal processes.”


Katelin Gedon, Class of 2018

“Prior to coming to law school I worked for several years as a case manager at a juvenile rehabilitation center. That experience, coupled with my undergraduate degree in psychology, piqued my interest in the juxtaposition between the legal system and mental health. When I applied to the University of Cincinnati for law school I was immediately drawn to the Weaver Fellowship. I knew that by becoming a Weaver Fellow, I would be able to participate in experiences related to law and psychiatry that were otherwise unavailable. Throughout the fellowship, I had the opportunity to observe and interact with patients at Christ Hospital’s In-Patient Behavioral Health Unit as well as attend the Veterans Treatment Court. These experiences have been invaluable to my development as a well-rounded lawyer.”


Jeff Geiman, Class of 2019

“Being a Weaver Fellow for me has been an exceptional experience which has played a crucial role in positioning me for my dream job. I came to law school with the hopes of making myself as attractive a candidate as possible for federal law enforcement. Over the years, like many of us, I have become increasingly frustrated as terrorist attacks have become more and more common place. I’ve gotten to a point where I’m done sitting back. I cannot morally continue to live in my own little bubble ignoring what is going on around me, while innocent people continue to needlessly die. This has driven me towards federal law enforcement and more specifically counter-terrorism. Understanding mental illness is key to this goal and this is where the Weaver Institute comes in.

In fact, during my graduate studies in criminology at UC, it became clear to me just how intertwined mental health and criminality are. It is precisely because of this complexity why it is necessary that we as a society change how we think about and treat the mentally ill. The overwhelming majority of inmates in the U.S. suffer from one or more mental illnesses. Despite this alarming rate we do little more than house these individuals in cages providing little to no treatment. Incarceration without treatment often further exacerbates these illnesses; that is why it’s crucial we start treating the underlying causes of these individual’s antisocial behaviors. Otherwise, we will never effectively reduce the crime rate in this country or fix our mass incarceration problem and overpopulated prisons.

I think it is paramount that lawyers, law enforcement, legislatures, and policy makers all understand the role mental health plays in society. A better understanding across these disciplines will ensure that law enforcement know how to effectively respond to individuals who are mentally ill; legislatures understand how mental illness impacts one’s behavior, choice, and cognition; lawyers know how to best represent their clients; and policy makers understand the importance of treatment and rehabilitation. A better understanding by society of the mentally ill will have significant benefits for us all."


Melissa Thompson, Class of 2014

“While law school seeks to teach us to ‘think like lawyers,’ [the Weaver] fellowship has taught me to consider legal issues from many different perspectives.”

As an undergraduate at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, Melissa Thompson, ’14 majored in human development, an interdisciplinary major that combines psychology, sociology, and human biology. 

Extracurricular experiences in college helped steer Thompson to pursue a career in a helping profession. “After completing an internship at a Bloomington domestic violence shelter, I experienced the sometimes painful intersection of law and human psychology in the lives of many local residents.” Her internship exposed her to the lack of treatment available for the alleged perpetrators of domestic violence, many of whom suffered from mental illnesses. At the same time, she recognized the need for legal professionals who understood patterns of domestic and child abuse and the effects these situations have on children and the community. (Read more)