Ohio Wesleyan alumna is awarded fellowship to help be a voice for human trafficking victims.
Rachel Tallmadge graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and pre-law and during one winter break; she flipped through television channels, only to stumble up a life changing issue.
Right after graduation, Tallmadge received the Norman Leonard Summer Research Award at OWU with Dr. Robert J. Gitter, Ph.D., professor of economics. During the summer, her research was focused on human trafficking in the European Union. This research with Dr. Gitter eventually transformed into the paper that is currently under review for publication with the Journal of Human Trafficking.
“Ohio Wesleyan empowered me to engage locally and globally. I could critically consider different perspectives while shaping my own in a safe and open community,” Tallmadge said. “I was pushed outside of my comfort zones and at the same time, my passions were nurtured.”
In April 2017, Tallmadge was awarded The Greif Fellowship. This fellowship is a one-year position at the Moritz College of Law that provides legal representation and guidance to juvenile victims of sex and labor trafficking in Ohio.
It was Dr. Gitter that helped Tallmadge plan an independent study focusing on human trafficking and economics. Dr. Gitter also connected Tallmadge with several sources in Columbus and she was quickly immersed into learning more about these dark crimes.
“Through my fellowship, I hope to empower victims of trafficking. I hope to be a strong advocate and help to break the cycle of victimization and re-victimization in the legal system,” Tallmadge said.
Tallmadge is currently a third-year law student at the Ohio State University of Mortiz College of Law and will graduate in May 2018.
“I knew coming into law school that I wanted to go into public interest law. Luckily, during law school, I have had the opportunity to work in both the civil and criminal sectors of public interest law,” Tallmadge said.
Throughout Tallmadge’s law school career, she has volunteered with the
Legal Aid Society of Columbus and also served as a law clerk at the Franklin County Public Defender’s Office where she was introduced to criminal law within the Juvenile and Municipal Units.
“I found a passion for working with people who are indigent in the criminal justice system, and I have stayed on at the office throughout my law school career,” Tallmadge said.
During her time with the Franklin County Public Defender’s Office, she had the opportunity to observe the municipal court’s Changing Actions Through Changing Habits (CATCH) (Hyperlink CATCH story by Liz) program, overseen by Judge Herbert.
CATCH court is a specialized docket at the Franklin County Municipal Court on human trafficking cases. This allowed Tallmadge the chance to work with other law clerks and attorneys in the office to interview women accused of felonies to see if there were signs of trafficking in their presented cases.
“Trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, chances are it’s not. [And] you can always call the hotline to report,” Tallmadge said.