If a single line could sum up United States Senator Jeff Chiesa’s message to Catholic University law students on Sept. 20, it might be: Use what time you have wisely, and make it count.
The New Jersey Republican and alumnus of the Class of 1990 is serving for a very short time in federal office, but has determined to make a difference while he can.
Chiesa was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie in the early summer of 2013 to serve out the term of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Chiesa accepted the appointment but made it clear he would not run for the vacated senate seat in the upcoming October election.
Nonetheless, he is doing what he can while he can. Invited to speak at the Columbus School of Law by the Law and Public Policy Program, the senator said he is using his few months on Capitol Hill to raise awareness of human trafficking, a scourge that he terms ‘modern day slavery.’
“If you call something exactly what it is you get people’s attention,” he said.
While serving as New Jersey’s attorney general, Chiesa’s interest in the issue was inspired by a group of girls from Togo who were essentially working as slaves at a hair salon. Chiesa helped to liberate them from their confining working conditions and directed resources to educate state law enforcement agencies on how to spot and prevent human trafficking.
Chiesa recently brought the issue to the forefront in a legislative conference on Capitol Hill so that when he leaves Washington, the Senate can assume the task of actually working towards tougher new laws.
Approximately 90 people attended the Senator's address and reception in his honor afterward. Chiesa had kind words for his law alma mater, where he met his wife in 1987.
“What you gain from CUA Law is not just an education but also the values that come along with your training,” said Chiesa. “That makes the lawyers who graduate from CUA a different breed from the rest of the lawyers out there.”
On the career front, the Senator—who is also a Eucharistic minister and soccer coach—advised students to begin developing their reputations right away, starting with their very first client. And, should the opportunity for public service ever arise, Chiesa was crystal clear.
“If you get a chance in public service, take it.”
Remarks were also offered by Dean Daniel F. Attridge, Professor Sarah Duggin, director of the Law and Public Policy Program, and Michelle Lease, president of the Law and Public Policy Society.
Also in attendance was John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America, who called Chiesa "a great illustration of what you can do with a CUA education.”