One current law student has gotten a taste of working in Washington, D.C., and is focused on eventually returning. Third-year student Rayshon Payton completed a summer internship in D.C. where he worked in the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Payton refers to that office as the “open front door to the White House.” The individuals who work there create and coordinate opportunities for a dialogue between the Obama administration and the public. One of the duties of the office is to host political forums and other outreach events.
During his internship, Payton had the opportunity to work with two senior level administration officials: Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
"The majority of the work I did for Ms. Jarrett involved assisting with logistics for the political forums and creating her talking points,” Payton said. “I worked with Secretary Duncan and the Department of Education on an initiative called the African American Executive Order, which the President signed this summer.”
The First Tee, an international youth development program built around the game of golf, has played an important role in Payton’s life. As a participant in the Oklahoma City chapter, he was named The First Tee Scholar in 2006 and travelled to Washington, D.C., to speak to members of Congress, educating them about the positive impact of the program.
The program may have been a factor in developing Payton’s positive attitude about life. In a story in The First TeeMagazine, Payton was quoted, “You have to be confident. You have to believe in yourself. Believe in your goal…If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”
Payton is unsure of what he will do after law school graduation, but he adds, he expects great things in the future. In the magazine story, he stated his goal was to eventually become chief justice of the United States. If you can dream it…
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What led you to OU Law? I have wanted to go to law school since I was a teenager. I was active in speech contests and enjoyed making oral presentations. When I was in high school, I would go downtown and watch some of the trials at the courthouse, so, I got acquainted with the courtroom rather early. I obtained a Navy scholarship to go to OU. I was a regular Navy midshipman then I served three years in the far east before coming back to law school. I wanted to attend law school and came back to OU.
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What led you to OU Law? OU Law has been part of my family since the 1920s. My great uncle was Dr. Maurice Merrill, a 1922 graduate of OU Law who then earned a Doctorate in Law from Harvard University in 1925. Merrill taught at OU Law for 30 years, published numerous seminal works in oil and gas law, constitutional law, administrative law and the law of Notice. While still in his twenties, Merrill published the seminal treatise Implied Covenants in Oil and Gas Law, which has been a cornerstone of my cases. In law school, I lived with Uncle Maurice and marveled at his longhand scrawl which was literally final copy in its first draft form. In my mind, he will always be ten times the lawyer that I ever became.