Alumnus continues advocacy with juvenile law fellowship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Five years after graduating from Penn State, Joshua Branch is continuing the advocacy that made him stand out — and stand up — as a student.

Branch, a 2013 political science graduate, recently received the Sol and Helen Zubrow Fellowship at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. He will begin the two-year fellowship this fall after graduating from Georgetown University Law Center.

Branch said he became interested in juvenile law while working for Teach for America in Miami and Democrats for Education Reform in Seattle, where he analyzed legislation on child care reform and met with community members to discuss pending legislation.

He received several offers for the next step in his career, including one to be a policy fellow at Harvard, but ultimately chose to follow his passion for service and advocacy.

“I saw students who aren’t going to graduate from high school and who will end up being incarcerated,” Branch said. “I’m interested in figuring out how we can improve these communities and stop the school to prison pipeline.”

The Zubrow Fellowship is one of the only post-graduate legal fellowships dedicated to children’s rights in both the child welfare and justice systems. Fellows work on issues ranging from the rights of youth in foster care to the needs of incarcerated children.

Juvenile Law Center Executive Director Susan Mangold said Branch’s real-world experience set him apart from other fellowship applicants.

“He wasn’t just writing an essay; he’s been in a variety of roles doing this work already,” Mangold said. “He will come here and be part of our team and that’s really important to us.”

Branch said he’s most looking forward to lending his voice to the legal conversations happening around these issues.

“I’m excited to do some brief writing to the appellate courts or the Supreme Court,” Branch said. “I’m a huge advocate of working within communities and working with both policy makers and community members.”

While at Penn State, Branch received a Stand Up Award from the Rock Ethics Institute, an award given to recognize student activism. Branch received the award for his advocacy for the LGBTQ community and his leadership through everyday encounters. He was a Paterno Fellow in the College of the Liberal Arts and a member of the Schreyer Honors College.

Last Updated February 19, 2018