From Prison to Law School: Benard McKinley’s Journey to Civil Rights Advocacy

Benard McKinley

Benard McKinley’s journey from incarceration to acceptance at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law is a testament to resilience and determination.

Convicted at 19 and sentenced to 100 years behind bars, McKinley turned his prison cell into a university, earning his GED and paralegal diplomas while advocating for fellow inmates.

Reflecting on his time in prison, McKinley remarked:

“My prison cell became my university.”

His relentless pursuit of justice led to the reduction of his sentence and, ultimately, to his admission to Northwestern.

McKinley’s goal now is to establish a legal clinic to provide assistance to underserved communities, a vision he shares with his former tutor Haley Greep.

McKinley’s story underscores the transformative power of education and the unwavering commitment to positive change.

As McKinley himself puts it:

“This is a start to allow me to show that I’m committed to the positive transformation of my community.”