Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10.“I’m a big ‘I wanna save the world person.’ That’s my heart. I want to leave this place a little better than when I came into it.”—Chantal Hamlin ’07
“I always wanted to be a lawyer,” said Chantal Hamlin, who still recalls being captivated by the Brooklyn Law School and downtown Brooklyn courthouse, asking her father what went on inside each of the buildings every time they passed them. Brooklyn born and raised, Ms. Hamlin wasn’t sure if she wanted to go away to college or not—until she visited Adelphi.
“I just remember falling in love with the campus. The University had such a warm atmosphere,” she said. “My dad and I both felt really welcome.” At Adelphi, she was active in campus life, serving as a resident assistant and president of Circle K International, a collegiate service organization. She was also involved in student organizations, such as V.O.T.E.R. and Christian Fellowship.
At the University she chose a major in political science, which proved to serve her well. After graduating from Adelphi she went straight to Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. “It was a tough three years—unlike anything I’d experienced before,” she said. “Although it was challenging, I felt prepared. I had a strong foundation in writing and research, which I built at Adelphi.”
Ms. Hamlin worked in family court in New Jersey as a law clerk to Judge Joseph Charles Jr., before joining New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) in 2011. At this city agency, whose mission is to protect children and support families, she works in ACS’ legal arm—family court legal services—as an agency attorney.
“What happens is a report gets called in about somebody mistreating a child,” she said. “A child protective specialist investigates that report and determines whether or not there needs to be any court intervention. And there are a lot of cases where there is no need…a social worker handles it and gives the family services. But there are some cases where the court needs to intervene.
“The Constitution protects a parent’s right to rear their children in the way that they see fit. The reason why we need the court to intervene is because we need to overcome that constitutional right that the parent has to rear their child in the way they want—because this parent is neglectful or abusing their child.”
At times, the facts can be hard. “You get a lot of cases where some sad things are happening,” she said. “That’s sometimes hard to digest on a human level.” While the work can be challenging, the success stories Ms. Hamlin witnesses make it all worthwhile. “Seeing the children who go to college…the families who are reunified after whatever experiences they’ve had with ACS…that’s definitely the most rewarding part,” she said.
While she is fulfilling her lifelong goal as a lawyer, Ms. Hamlin is most proud of her involvement in her church. She has been going to The Brooklyn Tabernacle since before she went away to Adelphi. After graduating in 2007, she left the Garden City campus and returned to Brooklyn. In 2010 she became actively involved in serving with the prayer band and young adult ministries—and has been ever since. “Those are the highlights of my week,” she said.
She may have graduated from Adelphi five years ago, but Ms. Hamlin said that sometimes she feels like she never left. “It’s kind of like an umbilical cord—I’m still attached. There’s such a special place in my heart for Adelphi,” she said.
“Anytime I see President [Robert A.] Scott, he gives me a hug. That just goes to show you the sense of community that exists at Adelphi,” she said. “I’m still in contact with faculty and staff. If they see me on a visit back to campus, they recognize me…they remember me. And that’s not because of anything that’s inherently special about me. It’s about the close knit atmosphere—that’s what runs through the campus’ veins.
“I am so proud to be an alumna.”
What advice does she have for current Adelphi students? “Slow down and enjoy your time there—really relish the Adelphi you have today,” she said.