Growing up as a Muslim-American woman has motivated Mariam to pursue a legal career. Mariam and her family were subjected to unwarranted FBI investigation simply based on their Pakistani nationality, creating an eight-year delay on their green card applications. While pursuing her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley, Mariam interned at the U.S. District Courts Pretrial Agency, volunteered at the Elmwood Women’s Correctional Facility, and published research articles in USC’s Journal of Law and Society and Cornell’s International Affairs Review. Prior to attending law school, Mariam worked as a paralegal at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.
As a first-generation, undocumented Latina who received help from her community, ranging from canned goods and clothing to moral support, Lisseth has learned to be grateful for all the opportunities she has received and to give back to those in need. She firmly believes that her community and family have helped her achieve her goals. For this reason, Betzy has decided to attend law school in the hopes of helping those that feel powerless within society. She hopes to pursue her legal career in immigration law.
Angela Breining is a first generation immigrant from Sinaloa, Mexico. She has been profoundly influenced by her experience as an immigrant and by watching her mother face the adversities of integrating into a new culture. Angela is passionate and committed in helping the rural poor and the immigrant population. Angela has been working for California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA) for the past three years. At CRLA she has conducted presentations to the community on Heat Stress Illness Prevention, Workplace Violence Prevention, Employee Rights, and Tenants’ Rights. After earning her law degree, she will continue to help the most vulnerable individuals in her community.
Growing up, Lisseth’s family did not have access to legal services to protect them from employment, tenant, and property rights violations. She understood the crisis of lack of access to justice first hand. She became further motivated to pursue a career in law after working with indigent clients at the San Jose State Record Clearance Project and with the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office. She plans to advocate for re-entry policy reform in order to facilitate access to legal services for formerly incarcerated people.
Jenny Chhea was born in Chinatown, Los Angeles and grew up in Rosemead, California. She attended UCLA, where she participated in student and community activism. She was awarded the Don Nakanishi Award for Outstanding Engagement and the APA-UCLA Community Service Award for her work in the Asian Pacific American community. Her motivations for attending law school stem from the struggles and aspirations of her Cambodian refugee parents and her commitment to creating social change for underserved communities. She plans to participate in Berkeley Law’s Social Justice and Public Interest program.
Chelsea is a graduate of UCLA. Throughout her academic career she has proven herself a dedicated advocate for change, focusing her interdisciplinary training and volunteer experiences in the service of others. Chelsea has also worked as an academic mentor for underprivileged youth, a research assistant for the NAACP, and a legislative aide for State Senator Holly J. Mitchell. These experiences convinced Chelsea that a legal career would be the best way to continue advocating for social justice.
Victor came to the United States at the age of 13 from Peru. Due to limited resources, he often had to work two jobs while attending school. Victor graduated from Cal State Chico with a B.A. in Political Science. Despite not having a criminal record, Victor was placed in deportation proceedings after a routine traffic stop. He was able to avoid deportation by qualifying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Due to his own experiences as an immigrant, he now volunteers with immigrants’ rights organizations and participates in My American DREAMs, a national television project in unison with the Sonoma County Public Broadcasting Station (PBS).
Lynn graduated summa cum laude from California State University in Sacramento. Lynn was inspired to help others because of the collaborative efforts of her low-income neighbors who worked together to get through tough times. Though she faced challenges throughout her undergraduate studies due to debilitating pain and an inability to use her dominant hand after two rear-end collisions, she still managed to help others in the community by tutoring fellow students in her free time. She hopes to advocate for low-income individuals in her community.
Gymmel is a recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Public Interest Scholarship. Her determination and resilience in the face of adversity allowed her to pursue higher education while living in fear of deportation. She attended Santa Rosa Junior College and transferred with honors to UC Berkeley. Despite lack of access to federal financial aid and limited scholarships, she graduated debt-free. Being undocumented taught her to blend in, but she now aspires to stand out in her plans to advocate for low-income communities. Gymmel believes strongly that no individual should feel shame in their pursuit of the American Dream.
As a first generation law student, Fallon has overcome many challenges in her pursuit of a higher education. At a young age her mother instilled in her the importance of service to others. While in high school, Fallon managed to balance a heavy course load while still making time to volunteer with local nonprofits that provided direct services in her community. She also participated in a dual enrollment program, which allowed her to complete her first two years of college before she graduated from high school. As a result, Fallon graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Philosophy at the age of nineteen. During law school she will continue striving to help others in need.
Daniela Huerta is an undocumented immigrant who received an Academic Achievement Scholarship to attend the University of Texas at Dallas and received the Pillar of the Greek Community Highest Female GPA Award in 2011. During her senior year, Daniela was selected to be a Luna Scholar and worked the 2013 Texas legislative session as a full-time legislative aide for Senator Carlos Uresti. Daniela graduated Magna Cum Laude in December 2013 with two bachelor’s degrees, one in Historical Studies and another in Political Science.
Jeffrey studied at Georgetown University where he studied International Relations and graduated Magna Cum Laude. After law school, Jeffrey hopes to pursue a career in health care litigation and policy reform. His motivation and passion for health care comes primarily from watching his own parents struggle to navigate the healthcare system as they attempted to obtain basic coverage once his mother became gravely ill. Jeffrey has helped to established a chapter of the student bereavement group, Actively Moving Forward on his campus and worked with Public Health Association. He has devoted all of his efforts to honor his mother and advocate for others in his community who might be struggling within the healthcare system.
Lupita emigrated from Mexico at the age of eight. As the daughter of farm-workers, she became the first in her family to graduate high school and receive her Bachelor’s degree. It was her upbringing in a rural agricultural community, laden with gang violence that led her to develop a desire to support underserved communities. After graduating from Santa Clara University she spent a year serving as a San Francisco City Hall Fellow and learning about local government, which solidified her desire to become an attorney and address systemic discrimination. She will attend UC Hastings, where she will prepare to become a civil rights attorney and focus on addressing the over-criminalization of people of color.
Maria came to the United States at the age of 3. She grew up knowing she was undocumented but not understanding its effects -- until her father was deported. Despite the obstacles, she has already accomplished so much: she has worked full-time and graduated with a B.A. in Criminal Justice. Maria has also been an intern at San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office. After completing her law degree Maria plans to practice criminal law as a prosecutor and become a voice for the undocumented community.
Karina became interested in juvenile and family law while volunteering at Pegasus Legal Services for Children in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While in law school at UC Berkeley, she plans to specialize in social justice and public interest law. Karina graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Political Science and English from UCLA in 2011. In 2014, she received her Masters in English Literature from the University of Chicago.
Priyank will be attending UC Hastings. He graduated from UCLA with highest honors with a degree in Psychobiology. In a short time, Priyank has worked in legal operations for several law firms, as well top tier organizations such as Google, Apple, and the San Francisco 49ers. He also writes grants, and lobbies for funds for natural area restoration projects. Priyank is motivated to use his background in science and experience working for high tech companies to study Intellectual Property law. Priyank is excited for the future of this field and his journey in law school.
Alisha Patton will be beginning her 1L year at the UC Hastings this fall. Her motivation for pursuing a career in law is rooted in a desire to be positioned to address issues of social injustice and economic inequality. Alisha is extraordinarily driven, and has an inherent passion for helping others. These characteristics have been demonstrated through her academic achievements and her work assisting victims of domestic violence and harassment through the process of filing for protective orders.
Arturo Reyes will focus on immigrant and refugee rights law upon graduation. Arturo has helped multiple attorneys in California and New York provide legal assistance to immigrant communities and has experienced first-hand what it takes to overcome the obstacles immigrant families face, such as living in impoverished neighborhoods and growing up in disadvantaged households. These obstacles are his deepest motivations for success. Additionally, Arturo has an interest in helping LGBT communities in California, specifically individuals seeking asylum. His personal background, interest in community service, and work experience have contributed to his passion for working with underprivileged communities, a passion that will serve as a stepping-stone towards his goal of becoming a lawyer.
As the first in her family to attend college and pursue a professional degree, Jessica is motivated by the sacrifices her parents made to enable her and her siblings to pursue the American Dream. After interning with Children’s Law Center as an undergrad at Loyola Marymount, she developed a passion for helping children in the Child Welfare System. Jessica plans to continue her advocacy for children through her legal career.
Summer Azucena Wall intends to practice constitutional and/or intellectual property law. She is deeply motivated by her family and low-income Latino community in California to pursue law school. She is the first in her family to graduate high school, receive a college diploma, and matriculate in law school. Summer Azucena wasa UCLA Law Fellow, was a finalist for Valedictorian at Loyola Marymount University, and was Loyola Marymount University's Stanley Chan Award Winner for excellence in academics and outstanding community service in Los Angeles. Summer Azucena Wall is a proud Californian and will work hard to continue California's role as a harbinger of progress both nationally and internationally.
Sheena’s drive started early in life. She has battled Rheumatoid Arthritis her whole life. Growing up in an impoverished community, with drug addicted parents, and little to no means, she managed to defeat the odds. Sheena is the first in her family to attend college, and as an undergraduate she invested time in tutoring other students. Through a program with the Internal Revenue Services, she volunteered her accounting skills, free of charge, to low-income families. It is her work with the IRS that motivated her to earn her law degree at California Western School of Law. She looks forward to prosecuting financial crimes that harm the less fortunate.
Lorena grew up as part of an immigrant family from Mexico. The hardships her parents endured as a result of being immigrants inspire her to pursue a legal career. In the past, Lorena has worked with Neighborhood Legal Services, Los Angeles working with laborers, a large part of them non-English speakers and undocumented, at a self-help clinic in Pacoima, CA. These workers sought the clinic because they were either unlawfully terminated, were unfairly treated, or were unjustly compensated. Throughout her legal career, Lorena plans to advocate for immigrants’ and workers’ rights.
As a first generation immigrant, Joy understands the challenges and discrimination that the Asian Pacific Islander community faces. While working in a Chinese food restaurant, she witnessed how workers were forced to toil without rest breaks, earning below minimum wage. Her goal is to create a world where members of the API community will no longer be victims of social injustices. During her legal career, she hopes to build a foundation for the API community and help them gain equal access to justice through the provision of free legal services.
As a teenager, Michael barely graduated high school, continuing down a formidable and reckless path. Exhausted from repeating a cycle of careless and irresponsible behavior, Michael decided to take control of his circumstances. He began to reconstruct his life in mid-2012. By 2015, Michael had gained primary custody of his sons, upheld full-time academic workloads, acquired his real estate license, and become a teaching assistant at USC Marshall School of Business. Michael plans to pursue corporate law. Three years from now, he hopes to be graduating with his Juris Doctor, ready to lead a successful life – for his children, for himself, and for those who have felt as helpless as he once did.
Yadira is a first-generation Mexican-American and the first in her family to graduate from college. The obstacles she and her family faced inspired her to become an advocate for others. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in Spanish from Los Angeles City College and earned her B.A. in Latin American Studies from UC Berkeley. She has already worked to improve diversity in the legal field by joining the Latino Pre-Law Society at Berkeley and interning for Justice Corps in the Family Law Self-Help Center at the Los Angeles Superior Court. She hopes to serve as a resource with the knowledge she gained as a UCLA and MTO Law Fellow.
By the age of fifteen, Corinna Jiang had endured personal obstacles such her parents’ divorce and, subsequently, becoming a teen mom. She faced criticism and disapproval from her traditional Chinese family, and knew her life in high school was set to follow a path different from that of her peers. She worked hard and went on to pursue higher education immediately after high school. Her struggles of being a single parent, juggling schoolwork as a full-time student along with a job, motivated her to pursue a legal career to help others. She plans to use her legal education to improve the criminal and juvenile justice system through public policy advocacy.
In June 2016, Mitzi will be graduating from UCLA, summa cum laude, with a B.A. in Political Science and Chicano Studies, and a Minor in Labor and Workplace Studies. While at UCLA, Mitzi volunteered for the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, the Dream Resource Center, and JusticeCorps which further augmented her desire for a career in public interest. Specifically, Mitzi intends to practice immigration law as a result of her experiences growing up within a single-parent immigrant household. When Mitzi’s mother obtained her legal permanent residency, Mitzi realized she wanted to be just like the immigration attorney that helped her mother achieve the American Dream. Mitzi will be attending UCLA School of Law where she will be specializing in the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law & Policy.
As a first-generation American, Lianna is passionate about civic engagement and American History. Most recently, she worked in the state Assembly as a legislative staffer. Her experience in civic engagement motivated her to pursue a career in litigation so that she might use policy to protect those most vulnerable within our society. Lianna is a graduate of UC Berkeley. She plans to use her law degree to advocate on behalf of marginalized populations.
Melissa Mueller grew up as a foster youth in Hawaii until aging out of the system at eighteen. Since then, she has been pursuing a legal career to give back to the system that raised her. During the last semester of her undergraduate career, Melissa was awarded an internship at the Prosecutor's office in Honolulu. She went on to earn a Bachelor's Degree in History from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2015.
Growing up in South Los Angeles and witnessing several of his family and friends victimized by gang violence, Keith knew that it was his calling to pursue a career in public service. Throughout his collegiate and professional career he has worked to improve the safety of citizens in his community. He is a Program Specialist for Mothers Against Drunk Driving where he empowers youth to make a positive impact in their community. He plans to pursue a legal career in Civil Litigation or Criminal Law. He also wants to develop a college pipeline program that focuses on increasing the law school enrollment and graduation rate for men of color.
A 2014 graduate of UC Berkeley, Bernadette Rabuy has been actively involved in reforming the criminal justice system nationwide. After graduation, she has worked as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Prison Policy Initiative. Bernadette’s work included producing the first comprehensive report on video visitation in correctional facilities. Bernadette’s report played a key role in the success of a Texas bill that now requires that Texas jails provide in-person visits, not just video visits. Her research has also helped protect in-person jail visits in Oregon and California. Bernadette will be attending UCLA School of Law and, after law school, she hopes to expand the reach of her criminal justice reform advocacy through impact litigation aimed at improving prison conditions.
Roberto Rodriguez-Orozco is a first generation Latino who managed to prevail despite the economic and social challenges faced in his community. After graduating high school, Roberto excelled in college. He was able to transfer from a community college with high honors and graduated Cum Laude from UCLA. Roberto continues to be a role model for many young people in his community who hope to attend a four-year institution.
Anna is an example of strength and perseverance for her family and community. Growing up in San Bernardino, Anna’s low-income community provided many pitfalls and few opportunities by which a young person could succeed and at 17 Anna became a teen mother. Rather than let her circumstances in life deter her, Anna let them fuel her desires to pursue a better life for herself and her family. Due to her personal experiences she is passionate about environmental equity as it relates to marginalized communities and the law. Upon graduating from Pepperdine University School of Law, Anna intends to practice environmental law.
Krystel became interested in the legal field when she began working at Vorzimer Masserman, a family law firm. Through her work there she realized she could have an impact on people’s lives while being intellectually challenged by the complexity of the law. It was then she decided becoming an attorney was the next challenge she would take on. Although Krystel’s road to law school was filled with obstacles, she was able to work while still graduating with honors, and giving back to the community through volunteer work. Upon graduating from law school, Krystel wishes to continue practicing in the reproductive law field to assist infertile couples and she wishes to become an advocate for the homeless.