Introducing Our 2020 Pre-Law Fund Recipients
Congratulations to the ten inaugural recipients of our Pre-Law Fund. The recipients will each receive $2,500 to support them with the costs of the law school admissions process. These extraordinary individuals have demonstrated their commitment to pursuing a career in the legal field and will use their law degrees in a wide variety of areas of the law—family, immigration, corporate, human rights, and intellectual property to name a few.
Angela and her family moved to Los Angeles from the Philippines when she was two years old. She is currently a senior at UC Davis, majoring in Asian American Studies and Sociology with an emphasis on Law and Society. Through her ethnic studies courses, Angela is able to learn more about her community’s historic struggles against systemic oppression and marginalization. After going through the DACA process, Angela became interested in seeing how passing legislation can greatly impact the everyday experiences of people and their families. Through her work as a research intern and student ambassador at the Bulosan Center for Filipinx Studies, Angela became more exposed to the contemporary collective struggles of the members of the Filipino American community. Angela has learned the importance of organizational advocacy and uplifting the most marginalized groups. She hopes to pursue a career in immigration law in order to better continue advocating for the rights of her community.
Graciela was born in Guerrero, Mexico. She is the eldest of four children and given her legal status, she learned to be resilient from a young age. During her senior year of high school Graciela interned at a law firm. It was there she realized the legal field was the right path for her because it gave her the opportunity to advocate for others in need of legal assistance. Graciela graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Political Science and Bachelor of Criminology, Law, and Society from U.C. Irvine and now has her sights set on law school. By entering the legal field Graciela hopes to bridge the gap of legal services available to immigrants and help other vulnerable communities.
Andrea was born in Michoacán, Mexico and studies Political Science with a Pre-Law concentration at Cal State East Bay. As a first-generation and low-income woman of color, Andrea has sought to create the spaces she wishes she’d had by leading with compassion and positivity. As part of CSUEB’s Political Science Club, Andrea created a resource outreach program in which she researches for and sends out a newsletter every month of jobs, internships, scholarships, and educational opportunities accessible to a wide range of students, She has also conducted research to advocate for underrepresented communities on topics such as gentrification, facial recognition technology, and homelessness. After noticing her parents’ skepticism of lawyers and realizing the politicization of her community in this country, Andrea decided to follow her passion of advocating for equity in underrepresented communities by pursuing a law degree. She hopes to use her law degree to bridge the gap between communities of color and their distrust of the law by focusing on immigration law in the non-profit sector.
Ju is a first generation Korean-American immigrant based in Los Angeles, California. Growing up in a diverse community of Los Angeles, numerous eye-opening incidents have led her to see that the legal field sometimes does not work in favor of people of color or immigrants like herself. That’s why she has decided to study law as she believes that it can grow her knowledge to help those who are disadvantaged. She is excited to explore more legal fields with the hope of serving and giving back to the community. Determined to persevere, Ju also likes to recalibrate by enjoying the little things in life – reading, baking, and solving puzzles.
Florencio was born in Michoacán, México and came to the United States when he was 8 years old. While the transition to a new country and school system was not easy, Florencio credits his academic success to the devotion to public service that some of his teachers had. Inspired by the role those teachers played in his life, Florencio has similarly made public service a central pillar of his academic and professional aspirations. After graduating from high school in 2015, Florencio went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree at UC Merced where he majored in political science. During his time there, Florencio interned in the United States Senate and the California State Assembly. These experiences not only highlighted the importance of public service, but also opened his eyes to the consequential underrepresentation of Latinos in spaces of power, including the legal field. Florencio believes that this underrepresentation not only diminishes Latinos’ ability to shape American laws, but also results in an inequitable treatment in the justice system and an unjust enforcement of the law. By obtaining a JD, Florencio hopes to continue his passion for public service by fighting to ensure Latinos, and other marginalized groups, are truly equal under the law.
Stephanie was born in Guerrero, Mexico and has lived the majority of her life in Southern California. While earning her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Cal State Long Beach, she gravitated towards local organizations that fought for the rights of all immigrants, regardless of legal status.
Stephanie is currently working full-time at a personal injury law firm and is a volunteer for a Bay Area immigrant rights organization. Stephanie has experienced first-hand how unjust the immigration system is in this country, and as she continues to meet many folks from different countries, she is fueled by their stories to continue organizing against the unjust system.
Stephanie wants to become an immigration attorney to provide sustainable legal representation for undocumented folks in her community. Too often, the undocumented community is divided and sometimes even work against one another. Stephanie’s vision is to use her law degree to unite the undocumented community towards one common goal: liberation.
Laura was born and raised in Michoacán, México and immigrated to the United States at the age of 14. Laura is a first generation college student and the first community organizer in her family. As a student at San Francisco State University, she received a scholarship from the Chicana/Latina Foundation and was a member of the Youth Empowerment Fund Advisory Board of the Department of Children, Youth and their Families. She holds a Master’s of Public Health from San José State University. Laura was a student leader in efforts to pass legislation (AB 540) that allowed undocumented students to attend college and pay tuition as California residents. In 2003, Laura was recruited as a Youth Organizer for the Common Roots: Youth Organizer Program with People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER). She is currently the Lead Civic Engagement Organizer at PODER working on environmental health issues, immigrant rights and language justice.
Laura’s interest in law school started right after her advocacy work to pass California’s AB-540 law. She wants to advocate for the disenfranchised communities- immigrants, people of color, and low-income workers, to ensure that they have equal representation and access to high quality, in-language legal services when navigating the Department of Justice. Laura hopes to become an immigration attorney and work with her immigrant community so that together they can change the current American Immigration Policy allowing all immigrants to have a dignified life and live without fear. In her free time, Laura loves to spend time outdoors, hiking, with friends and family. When she is not out enjoying the beauties of mother earth, you can find her in the nearest public library reading a book or dancing to some cumbias and merengue in a neighborhood’s Zumba class.
Gissela was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and received a Bachelor degree in Political Science from UC Berkeley.
Before UC Berkeley, she attended Chaffey College in Southern California where she developed the first leadership conference on campus. Over the past 6 years, she has learned about the importance of community, the power of storytelling and how to enjoy life through Cuban salsa.
Growing up in a mixed status family exposed her to the many inequities underserved communities face including lack of representation and inaccessibility of resources. Her current policy fellowship focusing on tech equity made her aware of the exploitative ways personal data can be used against people including to expedite deportation. She hopes to pursue a law degree to focus on the role of technology in immigration, data privacy, and society. While she pursues her career goals, she wants to expand the reach of her story by speaking at conferences and writing blogs. She hopes to ensure everyone has access to opportunities regardless of their country of origin or income level.
Meelissa is a 25 year-old transplant from Ciudad Constitucion and Acapulco, Mexico. She came to the US at the age of 12 and despite all the hype they get, she was deeply disappointed with California beaches—she maintains that they can never compare to the ones back home.
From a very young age, Meelissa has wanted to know all the rules and has never been able to keep quiet. Encouraged by her “femtors” in community college and incited by her family’s continuous run-ins with immigration and police brutality, she began envisioning a career as an attorney. Her goal is to help her community fight back against the system imposed upon them.
During her time at UCLA, she participated in the Million Dollar Hoods Project and focused her Gender Studies Departmental Honors Thesis on transformative justice practices for undocumented Latinas who have been victims of interpersonal and state violence. She is graduating in June 2020 and currently interning at the Loyola Immigrants Justice Clinic. In the future, she plans to practice International Human Rights Law and continue to prioritize women of color in her personal and professional life.
Diana was born in Puebla, México. In college, she learned about laws that protected children. It was then that she reflected on how access to a lawyer and legal information can have a positive long-term impact on the life of a child.
After college, Diana spent some time in France with the intention of studying there for a couple of months. Those couple of months turned into three years. In Aix-en-Provence, France, Diana discovered joy in learning about another culture; it was like seeing the world in another color. Her time abroad sparked her interest in pursuing an international dual law degree to address legal issues in a global context. Diana is inspired to help children and victims of crimes get connected to services that will aid them throughout lives.
The Pre-Law Fund is made possible because of the generous financial support of these incredible donors: Kathryn Abrams, Jonathan Blazer, Tanya Broder & Ted Wang, Marc Chambers, DeYoe Wealth Management, Inc. (in honor of Helen Lawrence), Stefano DeZerega & Johanna Hartwig, Yuen & Sandra Gin, The Arturo & Rosa González Family Giving Fund, The Larry Hillblom Foundation, Christine Hoang & Paul Nakada, Barry Hovis, Elizabeth J. Kramer Charitable Fund, Francine J. Lipman, Michael A. Olivas & Augustina H. Reyes, Snehal Patel & Ami Sanghvi, and Christopher & Jeannie Rhee.
Read more about our Pre-Law Fund donors here.