Undergraduate Research and Creativity Alumni Profiles 

Candace Morrison, B.A. '10

Labor Attorney, Creighton Johnsen & Giroux
Major(s): Theater

What research or work have you done since graduating from Buffalo State?

After graduating from Buffalo State, I worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA, at a children’s theatre, and as a director of a summer theatre program for at-risk youth. At the end of all that I thought I’d give law school a go, and I enrolled at University at Buffalo in 2011. After a semester of law school, I missed art and decided to do a dual curriculum and earn a master’s degree in arts management while pursuing a J.D. 

During my law school and grad school years, my research focused on social and economic rights. On the law side, I researched the human right to housing and to economic justice. I studied the effect of policing strategies, mental health funding, and “act of living laws” on homeless populations in Los Angeles. On the arts management side, I researched overt and covert censorship of art and society through cultural funding and museum curation. The through line for all my research is law, society, and arts and cultural expression.

Can you translate your work for the general public?

I currently work as an attorney in private practice. I focus on the “employee” side of labor and employment law; specifically, how existing laws can be used to protect workers’ rights. I help workers file complaints with state and federal agencies, and the courts to enforce wage and hour, prevailing wage, and fair contracting laws.

Why did you decide to get involved in undergraduate research?

I wanted to broaden my experience. I wanted to write a play that would resonate on many different levels. The undergraduate research fellowship gave me the support that made it all possible.

How did your undergraduate research experience influence your career path?

When I started law school, the longest piece of writing I had produced academically was my one-woman show for the undergraduate research fellowship. I knew I could handle law school with my B.A. in performance in part because of summer research experience. Looking back at it now, my undergraduate research was the first time I made connections between society and the policies that impact and are impacted by it.

Describe the research you did and if you presented it at any professional conference, juried art exhibit, or other off-campus location.

I travelled from Buffalo to Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Oregon to visit, work, and experience organic farming. At each stop I interviewed farmers and farm workers. I recorded stories through audio, photography and notes. I then wrote a one-woman show based on the experience. The playwrighting process was another step in the research. It required many drafts, revisions, and “on my feet” experimentation to get the story right. I performed the show for the first time during the Undergraduate Research and Creativity Celebration in May 2010. I performed the show three other times including during the Anne Frank Project, and the Buffalo Infringement Festival

Undergraduate Research Mentor: Cristina Pippa