Josh Lodish has spent a good portion of his time at Waynflete School working on social justice issues, and he’d like to become a civil rights lawyer, but he’s got more global plans for the next year or so.

Lodish, who graduates this month from the private school in Portland, was a Project Respect mentor for students of diverse backgrounds at the neighboring Reiche Elementary School for four years.

He was a leader in Waynflete’s racial awareness program and interviewed Portland Police Chief Mike Sauschuck twice about current criminal justice issues – at a school assembly and during a regional student conference. For his senior project, Lodish shadowed a public defense attorney and a juvenile justice advocate.

“I got to see the justice system from a couple of different angles,” Lodish says.

Lodish, 18, plans to study public policy in the pre-law track at Davidson College in North Carolina. But before he buckles down for another four-plus years of school, he plans to take a year off and travel the world, doing community service wherever he can. He’ll be traveling with a friend, who’s also taking a year off, and paying his own way with money he saved from summer jobs and his bar mitzvah. They’ll leave in September and return next June. Their itinerary includes Nepal, Thailand, South Africa, Israel and Jordan.

“It will be a continuation and broadening of the things that are most important to me: travel, community service and working with children,” Lodish says. “I hope to get a global perspective of the lifestyles and issues that people face around the world.”

Lodish, who lives in Portland, says he’s grateful that his parents, Kristin, who teaches immigrants at Portland Adult Education, and Martin, a former teacher, support his plan to take a gap year. “They’ve always encouraged me and let me find my own way,” he says.

Looking ahead, Lodish says he’ll probably become a lawyer and work with minorities and others who often don’t get a fair shake from the legal system.

“The law tends to disenfranchise people who don’t know how to navigate the system,” Lodish says. “I’ve always had the desire to help people, and I think the law is probably the best way for me to do that.”

Read all 2017 graduates to watch profiles.

— By Kelley Bouchard