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Scholars 2013

Adrian Arias
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Scholar
UC Irvine School of Law, Class of 2015

Adrian grew up living between Mexicali, Mexico and Calexico, California. During his time in the Mexicali, Adrian struggled to find opportunities in a community filled with corruption, crime, and violence. Eventually, a strong conviction and the love of his family pushed Adrian to leave Mexicali. He went on to study economics at the University of California, Irvine where he graduated magna cum laude, received the Merit of Order, and was amongst the top 2% of the School of Science graduates. Adrian is now at UC Irvine Law School where he received a Dean's Merit Scholarship and the Winthrop-Couchot Bankruptcy Fellowship. Adrian has done volunteer work at C.R.R.E.A.D, a drug rehabilitation center in Mexico, worked as a pro bono translator for the Inner City Law Center in Los Angeles, and has had the pleasure of assisting in pro bono citizenship clinics at the Public Law Center in Orange County, California.

Alex Flores
Loyola Law School, Class of 2014

Alex was born in Highland Park and raised in West Covina by his parents who immigrated to the United States in search of a better life after escaping a civil war in El Salvador. Before leaving El Salvador, Alex's mother and father were a semester short of earning professional degrees in dentistry and engineering, respectively. As a result, Alex'sparents have emphasized the importance and value of education. Alex graduated at the top of his high school class and earned a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University with honors. At Loyola Law School, Alex has served as graduation chair and vice-president of La Raza de Loyola, competed in the National Hispanic Bar Association’s Moot Court Competition, externed at Legal Aid and C.A.R.E.C.E.N., and appeared in court for the District Attorney's Office and the Assistant United States Attorney's Office.

Anna Rodas-Samayoa
Loyola Law School, Class 2015

Anna is the daughter of immigrant Guatemalan parents who left their country to provide a better life for their family. Anna received a full scholarship to attend the University of California, Riverside after graduating from high school with a 4.0 grade point average. At UCR, she was motivated to graduate within three years due to her long commute from San Fernando Valley to Riverside. She double majored in political science and law and society and graduated with high honors. For the past nine years she has volunteered for Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people obtain legal status. Anna is enrolled in Loyola Law School's evening program and works full-time as a human resource generalist. She was selected to participate in Loyola's Employment Law Clinic next semester. After graduating law school, Anna plans to practice employment and immigration law.

Daniel Borca
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2014

Inspired by a single parent mother of three children who imparted a commitment to education, Daniel attained a double major at UC San Diego. As a youth advocate for the YWCA, Daniel was inspired to attend law school. As a 1L, however, law school proved challenging. He was relentless in his studies, but fell victim to the trappings of a pedagogical framework that itself reinforced power dynamics Daniel had hoped were overcome. No longer was mastering subject matter enough to master an exam. Despite this tension, Daniel remained committed and found community in the CRS Program. Inspired by their mission to challenge the very baselines that are shaping his experience in law school, Daniel has reignited his passion for social justice. As a proud member of La Raza and the co-editor-in-chief of the Chicana/o Latina/o Law Review Daniel looks forward to pushing the movement through his 3L.

Elizabeth Franco
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2015

Elizabeth was raised in Fontana by parents who emigrated from El Salvador and the Dominican Republic to escape poverty and seek a better life in the United States. Elizabeth was the first person in her family to graduate from college. Elizabeth graduated from UCLA in 2011 with a B.A. in Communication Studies and a minor in civic engagement. During her time at UCLA she was involved with JusticeCorps, a program designed to increase equal access to the courts. Elizabeth was selected for JusticeCorps Graduate Fellowship where she provided legal assistance to hundreds of self-represented litigants and completed 1700 hours of service. At UCLA Law, Elizabeth is involved with La Raza Law Students, the Chicana/o Latina/o Law Review, and the Critical Race Studies program. This summer she will be a law clerk at the ACLU of Southern California. Elizabeth plans to pursue a career in public interest law.

Emmanuel Vergara
NBCUniversal/ Telemundo Entertainment Scholarship
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2015

Emmanuel "Manuel" Vergara is a first-generation U.S. citizen and the first in his family to graduate college. Manuel was raised in Norwalk, CA by a single mother who immigrated from Mexico in search of a better life for her family. Inspired by his mother's formidable example, Manuel dedicated himself to his studies and graduated cum laude from USC with a B.S. in Music Industry. He then spent five years managing concerts for some of the biggest acts that toured through Los Angeles and used the skills he acquired in live entertainment to help organize and execute public health outreach programs such as Remote Area Medical and the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program. Manuel is interested in entertainment and intellectual property law and hopes to use his J.D. from Southwestern to advocate on behalf of disenfranchised populations, as he will do this summer at the Children’s Law Center.

Ethan Padilla Fallon
White & Case LLP International Scholar
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2014

Ethan was raised in Texas by a family of hard-working immigrants. As a financially independent student, he became the first in his family to graduate from college, earning a degree in philosophy from Penn State. Next, he embarked as a middle school English teacher in the Teach For America program. Currently at UCLA, Ethan serves on the UCLA Law Review as a senior editor and as a graduate assistant teacher to a 1L section. This summer Ethan will be a summer associate at Latham & Watkins working in the litigation department. Ethan hopes to work in high-impact and appellate litigation.

Evan Langinger
USC School of Law, Class of 2014

Evan is a rising 3L at USC Gould School of Law. He was born in the eastern San Fernando Valley and was educated at Pacoima Middle School, Cleveland High School, and, later, UC Berkeley. His legal interests lie at the intersection of juveniles, mental health, criminal defense, and the Latino community. He has worked for the L.A. County Counsel in the Mental Health Court, the L.A. County Public Defender in the Pasadena Juvenile Court, Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc., and Inner City Law Center. This summer, he’s excited to be with the Public Defender full-time. Academically, Evan has enjoyed a seminar on child forensic interviewing and working in the Saks Center for Mental Health Policy. Next year, he'll work for USC's Immigration Clinic. He is honored to receive MABF's support and looks forward to participating in the organization in the future.

Francisco Alcala
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2016

Raised in Los Angeles by a single mother who emigrated from Mexico, Francisco endured many financial hardships while pursuing higher education. Francisco, a first generation college student, graduated from California State University Fullerton with his B.A. in Finance while working full time to support himself. His dreams of going to law school were encouraged by professors who recognized his potential while he attained two paralegal certificates from California State University Los Angeles. As an evening student at Southwestern, Francisco is a Dean's Fellow and a representative for the Latino Law Students' Association. This summer, Francisco will study international entertainment and media law in London and aspires to pursue a career practicing entertainment and transactional law.

Heidy Pineda
Loyola Law School, Class of 2014

Heidy Pineda immigrated to the United States as a teenager from Guatemala. Heidy graduated cum laude from UCLA with a B.A. in Foreign Languages, and a minor in labor and work place studies. At UCLA, Heidy wrote her senior thesis on "African-American Children's Motivation Towards Spanish Language and Culture." She also contributed to the publication of the book, "Underground Undergrad, UCLA Undocumented Immigrant Students Speak Out." After graduation, Heidy worked for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, (CHIRLA) and co-founded CHIRLA's sister organization, CHIRLA Action Fund. Her struggles as an undocumented immigrant, first generation college student, and a Latina woman, motivated Heidy to become a civil rights attorney to positively impact disadvantage communities in this country. Heidy is currently a student at Loyola Law School, and this summer, she will be working at an employment law firm as part of the CELA Employee Justice Diversity Fellowship.

Irma Vargas
USC Gould School of Law, Class of 2014

Irma Vargas was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and moved to Montebello, CA in 1994. Irma earned her B.A. in Psychology at the University of Southern California, where she was a Presidential Scholar and on the Dean's List for three semesters all while working at least twenty hours a week. During her senior year, Irma worked forty hours a week while also volunteering at Going for the Goal, a USC group that mentored local sixth graders. At the law school, Irma served as events chair for both the Latino Law Students Association and the Public Interest Law Foundation. Last summer, she was a law clerk at Bet Tzedek's Summer for Justice program and this summer, Irma will be at the Children's Law Center of California. Irma plans to practice public interest law.

Jennifer Vázquez Macías
Loyola Law School, Class of 2014

Jennifer Vázquez Macías was born in Gardena, California, where she was raised by her Mexican immigrant parents. After graduating from Narbonne High School, she attended the University of California, Los Angeles where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. While at UCLA, she tutored and mentored incarcerated youth as part of Project B.R.I.T.E. (Bruins Reforming Incarceration through Education). Jennifer now attends Loyola Law School with a focus on public interest and immigration law. She currently serves as the 2012-2013 community service chair for both La Raza and the Immigration Law Society and will serve as the 2013-2014 co-president of La Raza and co-vice chair of the Immigration Law Society. She hopes to work in immigration law and impact litigation after law school.

Jesse Leon
Latino Prosecutors Foundation Scholar
Loyola Law School, Class of 2014

Jesse Leon is a student at Loyola Law School. He was born and raised in South Los Angeles and attended Manual Arts High School, Rio Hondo College, where he graduated class valedictorian, and then the University of Southern California. He is the first member of his family to graduate from college. His mother, a Mexican immigrant, raised Jesse in a single-parent household. Jesse would like to become a prosecutor in Los Angeles or a neighboring county after he graduates. He has worked in either the public interest or government sectors all of his young adult life. Prior to law school he served as a council aide for the 14th District of Los Angeles in the Boyle Heights community, worked as a program coordinator for Central City Neighborhood Partners, a non-profit organization that serves the Pico-Union and Westlake communities, and worked for the YMCA as a youth mentor.

Karina Godoy
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2015

Karina was born and raised in Los Angeles by her monolingual Mexican immigrant parents. A first generation college graduate, Karina graduated magna cum laude from the USC earning two bachelor's degrees in history and political science and completing her honors thesis for both degrees. While at the USC Karina was active in several service organizations, serving as the assistant director for Alternative Spring Break Catalina. Karina currently attends Southwestern Law School where she has undertaken various leadership rules, including president of the American Constitutional Society, community outreach director of SBA, and will be serving as next year's Public Interest Law Committee president. Karina has volunteered for the Harriet Buhai Center since 2010 and currently works as an R.A. translating for the Immigration and Children's Rights Clinics. Karina plans to practice social lawyering and advocate for marginalized groups, and will be externing at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this summer.

Kenny Ramirez
Loyola Law School, Class of 2014

Kenny began his life in the United States as an undocumented immigrant at the age of two, when his parents risked all to provide him a better life. Notwithstanding the financial and social hardships that came with his status, Kenny attended UCLA where he majored in political science and minored in philosophy - all in only three years. At Loyola, Kenny is completing a concentration in civil litigation and advocacy. Kenny is also a member of Loyola's prestigious Byrne Trial Advocacy Team, ranked 6th in the nation by US News. In March, he competed in the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition, where he worked a negligent supervision, negligent retention, and wrongful death case. In early April, Kenny was granted both deferred action and employment authorization by the government. Two weeks later, Kenny secured a summer clerkship at Waters, Kraus, and Paul. Kenny plans to become a trial lawyer.

Kimberly Oros
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Scholar
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2014

Kimberly emigrated to the U.S. from Belize with her family and was raised in South Los Angeles. She attended UCLA where she entered as a biochemistry major. During her third year, Kimberly realized that she wanted to make a more direct impact on her community with her education and began considering a career in law. After earning a B.A. in History from UCLA, she worked at the Center for Healthcare Rights providing advocacy for low-income Medicare beneficiaries in Los Angeles. Now at Southwestern, she was a Brief Writer Finalist in the 2012 Intramural Moot Court Competition and holds leadership positions with various students groups, including Latino Law Students Association and Black Law Students Association. She just began a year-long externship with the Children's Law Center this June. Kimberly is committed to career in public interest law and is currently growing in her knowledge of immigration law.

Lauren Fierro
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2016

Lauren was raised in San Pedro by a single mother who suffered from depression. Lauren began working full-time at eighteen while she attended California State University Long Beach and earned a degree in political science. Nearly six years after completing college, Lauren returned to school as a part-time student at Southwestern Law School. In her first year at Southwestern, Lauren received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award and the Witkin Award for Legal Analysis Writing and Skills, and she was also named Outstanding Brief Writer and Honorable Mention Oralist in the Intermural Competition. Along with attending school, Lauren works as an account manager for a business management company, and she volunteers for her local YMCA where she runs a leadership development program for teenagers. When Lauren completes law school, she plans to work as a prosecutor or a public defender, and she hopes to someday run for public office.

Lisette Reynoso
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2015

Lisette was raised in Los Angeles, CA. She attended UCLA where she earned a B.A. in Mass Communications and a minor in Chicana/o Studies. While in college she volunteered helping low-income tenants fight evictions, which inspired her to pursue a law degree. After college, Lisette completed two AmeriCorps programs, JusticeCorps and City Year. She currently attends UCLA Law School, where she is a member of La Raza Law Students Association and volunteers with the El Centro Legal Clinics. This summer, she will be working at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center. Lisette plans to pursue a legal career working with Spanish-speaking immigrant communities.

Maritza R. Agundez
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2016

Maritza grew up in a single parent household in the Harbor City public-housing projects. She is second oldest of five children and is a first generation Mexican-American, whose mother only possesses a fifth grade education. Maritza attended Occidental College where her double major in politics and urban and environmental policy provided the theoretical foundation for her advocacy work for underprivileged groups. At Occidental she organized day laborers, collaborated with NGO's in Oaxaca to provide indigenous populations with western medicine, and received an undergraduate research grant to analyze affordable housing policy in South LA. Currently at Southwestern, she is part of the Latino Law Student Association board, the Labor Employment Law Association board and will be a teacher's assistant for the Legal Analysis, Writing, and Skills course. Maritza plans to use her legal education to write policy that will address the issues of adversity that are still prevalent in her community.

Mauricio Salazar
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2015

Mauricio was raised in Alhambra by two loving parents, Mario and Rosa Salazar, who immigrated to the United States during El Salvador's violent civil war. He earned a degree in business administration with an emphasis in corporate finance from the University of Southern California. Mauricio is currently a third year evening student at Southwestern Law School. He has served as the treasurer for the Latino Law Student Association. Mauricio is a legal assistant at Jules and Associates, Inc. in downtown Los Angeles. Upon graduation, Mauricio plans to pursue a career in corporate law.

Mellissa Gallegos
Loyola Law School, Class of 2015

Mellissa is the first of four children and was raised in the Inland Empire by her mother, Sonia Gallegos. After graduating from high school in 2006, she attended UCLA where she graduated with a B.A. in International Development Studies, and minors in global studies, and Latin American studies. This summer Mellissa will work with the Legal Aide Foundation of Los Angeles in their housing and eviction defense unit. Next year Mellissa will be a board member of La Raza de Loyola as networking co-chair, the Immigration Law Society as treasurer, and the American Constitution Society as a 2L representative. Presently, she is unsure of what area of law she would like to practice, and plans to gain experience in as many areas of law as possible during her remaining time in law school. Irrespective Mellissa's future legal practice, she hopes to continue dedicating time to public interest.

Monica Rodriguez
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher Scholar
Loyola Law School, Class of 2014

Monica was raised in Chula Vista. During Monica's third year in college, her life took a sharp turn with the diagnosis of cancer of two important people: her grandfather, who lived with Monica, and her aunt. She learned to balance the commitment and responsibility of work, school, and supporting and comforting her family. Monica managed to graduate cum laude with a B.A. in Literature/Cultural Studies from UCSD. Prior to UCSD, Monica attended Southwestern Community College and volunteered at Catholic Charities Immigration Service Department. At Loyola, Monica served as vice president for the Women's Law Association and will be doing a judicial externship with the Honorable Harry Pregerson, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, this fall. This summer, she will be doing a summer fellowship at Seyfarth Shaw, LLP. Monica plans to practice employment law.

Monique Moncayo
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2016

Monique is one of seven children, raised in East Los Angeles by a single mother who struggled to provide all seven a Catholic education. Monique attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she earned a B.A. in Chicana/o Studies with a minor in applied psychology, educational studies. She served as outreach chair and co-chair of Hermanas Unidas, while working as a high school tutor/college advisor to local at-risk youth. At Southwestern, Monique is the incoming community relations chair for Latino Law Students Association, scholarship chair for Public Interest Law Committee, Franklin HS Liaison for Teen Court, and will study abroad in Vancouver, Canada this summer. Monique plans to practice public interest law and join the fight for educational equality in our public schools. She dedicates her law degree to the memory of her father who died when she was 10 and her brother who died when she was 15.

Myrna Miranda
USC School of Law, Class of 2015

Myrna Miranda was raised in Orange County by her parents who emigrated from Mexico. She graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in psychology and Spanish literature. After college, she worked for a year as a legal assistant at an immigration law firm in Irvine before enrolling at USC Law. At USC, Myrna has volunteered as an interpreter for USC's Immigration Clinic and has been involved in the Latino Law Students Association, for which she will be a board member next year. This summer, she will be working with the Bankruptcy and Consumer Law Project at Public Law Center in Santa Ana, CA advocating for low-income clients. Myrna plans to become a public interest attorney.

Nancy Perez
UCLA Law School, Class of 2015

Nancy was raised in Echo Park and attended Belmont High School. Her parents emigrated from El Salvador during the civil war and encouraged her to take advantage of the educational opportunities they never had. A first generation college student, she attended UC Berkeley, where she double majored in ethnic studies and political science. While in college, she worked two jobs and volunteered at an immigration non-profit for two years. At UCLA, she is an active member of La Raza Law Students Association and will be an outreach co-chair next year. This summer, Nancy will be working at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She plans to practice public interest law.

Nicole Jaramillo
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2015

Nicole Jaramillo was born and raised in East Los Angeles. She attended the University of Southern California, where she graduated with degrees in journalism and international relations. During her undergraduate years she was a member of Chicanos for Progressive Education, served as diversity recruitment leader, and received the Order of Troy, USC's service and commitment award. Following her graduation from USC, she worked as a staff member for former Congresswoman Hilda Solis and with foster children in Pasadena before attending Southwestern Law School. In her first year at Southwestern, Nicole was part of both the Latino Law Student Association and the Public Interest Law Committee. She hopes to pursue a career in public interest law or prosecution after graduation. This summer she will be serving as an extern for United States Magistrate Judge Jay C. Gandhi.

Raul Ocampo
Loyola Law School, Class of 2014

Raul Ocampo was born in Mérida, Yucatán and moved to South Los Angeles in 1990. As a youth, he became involved with the Community Coalition, a non-profit organization formerly headed by Congresswoman Karen Bass that works to improve social and economic conditions in South LA. He attended California State University, Northridge, where he received his B.A. in English. Currently, Raul attends Loyola Law School, where he will obtain a J.D. with a concentration in corporate law. Last summer, he interned for the legal department of The Southern California Gas Company, assisting the litigation and regulatory departments. In the 2013 Spring semester, Raul was a youth mentor for the Young Lawyer's program. This summer, he will provide research assistance to Professor Carlos Berdejo and serve as a Loyola Law School writing tutor. Raul also serves as internal chair for the Loyola Business Law Society.

Sarah J. Garrett
Cedars Sinai Scholar
Loyola Law School, Class of 2014

Sarah was raised in Los Angeles by a single mother, who lost her home to pay for the medical costs of keeping Sarah alive. After struggling for years with her health, Sarah graduated high school with high honors in academics and service to the community. Sarah worked her way through Scripps College, graduating with a dual major in Chican@ Studies and history with honors. At Loyola Law School, Sarah has gained valuable experience, including two terms as a judicial extern. Currently, Sarah serves as a Loyola student ambassador, co-vice president of La Raza, and Co-President of ACS Loyola. This summer, she will be working as a law clerk for Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan LLP and continues as an advocate for the California Board of Equalization's Tax Appeals Assistance Program. In the future, Sarah plans to practice taxation law to help others financially plan for their lives and businesses.

Teresa Gutierrez
Loyola Law School, Class of 2014

Teresa Gutierrez is a rising 3L at Loyola Law School. She is the proud product of immigrant parents and economic disadvantage. Teresa earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Spanish with a minor in business administration at the University of Southern California (USC). After USC, Teresa moved her life from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. and worked for both chambers of Congress. She later worked for Kids in Need of Defense and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. While in law school, Teresa has proven to be invested in her legal education and has demonstrated exceptional leadership. This summer, Teresa is set to extern in federal appellate court. During her final year of law school, Teresa will serve on the Scott Moot Court Honors Board, participate in the Hobbs District Attorney Program, and lead the Loyola International and Comparative Law Review (ILR) as executive editor.

Ursula Aguiar
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2014

Ursula was raised in the Salinas Valley by parents who emigrated from Mexico and worked as field laborers before becoming teachers. After struggling to keep a cultural identity in a parochial elementary school and then embracing it in high school and college. Ursula attended UCSB, where she earned her B.A. in Political Science and minor in history while holding two volunteer positions at the Santa Barbara District Attorney's Office and was the External Outreach Chair for M.U.J.E.R. At Southwestern, Ursula is part of the Latino Law Students Association and an officer of the Immigration Law Students Association. Ursula will extern at the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and will clerk for the Southwestern Law School Immigration Clinic this summer. Ursula plans to become a prosecutor and practice immigration law.

Yecenia Olmos
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2014

Yecenia was raised in an illegally converted garage in South Los Angeles. She is the eldest of four children whose parents immigrated to the United States to find a stable home. Despite her struggle with learning English, she went on to become valedictorian of her graduating class and was a Bill Gates Scholar. Yecenia attended UCLA where she earned a B.A. in Political Science and History and was awarded the Charles E. Young Humanitarian Award for her work with UCLA's Project Literacy. At UCLA Law, Yecenia served as the chief managing editor of the Chicana/o-Latina/o Law Review and the vice president of Alumni Affairs of the Real Estate Law Association. Yecenia plans to practice real estate, affordable housing, and disability law.

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