Headshot of Jim FitzGibbon

Spartan Showcase: Jim FitzGibbon

Headshot of Jim FitzGibbon

Majors: Political Science and Economics 

Year: Fourth-year  

Growing up as a deaf student in the public school system, Jim FitzGibbon became familiar with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act—and he noticed they could stand to be reformed. 

FitzGibbon—who founded his high school’s Mock Trial team—went on to write his senior capstone on the legal impact of IDEA, realizing the passion he had for the law and its role as an instrumental institution in our society.

“The law is predicated on fairness and justice, as well as the peaceful resolution of disputes,” he explained. “Consequently, working as an attorney allows me to work in service to these principles, which are fundamental to our society.”

Now a fourth-year political science and economics major, FitzGibbon will soon be pursuing his Juris Doctorate at the School of Law—though his interests extend far beyond academics.

He’s played the trumpet in CWRU’s marching, jazz and wind ensembles—and he’s served as chair of the Student Presidents’ Roundtable, a group that facilitates discussions between the eight major undergraduate governing boards about issues at CWRU (and projects relating to them). 

Projects this year included organizing the Presidential Inauguration; conversations about turning Eldred Hall into a new student center; and advocating for raising the student employee minimum wage at CWRU, which is still ongoing. 

As chair, his role was to both facilitate these projects—as well as serve as a conduit between the board presidents and university officials.

“Serving as chair has provided me with a sense of purpose—much of the work that we do directly impacts students, and I appreciate the opportunity to work on behalf of students to improve our community in a multitude of ways,” said FitzGibbon, a fourth-generation CWRU student.  

As his tenure as an undergraduate comes to a close, so too does his work on his senior capstone project. He worked with Professor Laura Tartakoff to research how the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as certain federal appellate courts, influenced racial demographics in Atlanta and Cleveland through sparking the First Great Migration, racially restrictive covenants and busing policies. 

“Examining the cases and the history behind them was fascinating, and I was able to find out a lot about Cleveland that I did not know previously,” said FitzGibbon, a Cleveland native.

After law school, FitzGibbon has plans to pursue either international or business law, and has considered running for political office. 

“In the interim,” he said, “I hope to travel to some places on my bucket list over this summer, as well as catch up on some reading.”