Meet Our 2023 Pre-Law Fund Recipients!
We are thrilled to introduce the new cohort of Pre-Law Fund recipients for 2023. These 10 undocumented individuals will be receiving financial assistance and technical support for their law school applications as well as access to Immigrants Rising’s network of legal professionals.
Read more about our 10 aspiring attorneys below.
Belinda Hernandez (they/she) is a Ñuu Savi immigrant from the Mixteca region of Oaxaca, Mexico. They immigrated to the U.S. with their family at one year old and grew up in Ventura County, California. Belinda completed their bachelor’s degree in legal studies at University of California, Berkeley. Their experiences working with immigrant-led organizations helped them recognize the lack of commitment to indigenous people and indigenous sovereignty within the movement. For this reason, Belinda aspires to become a trauma-informed immigration attorney to provide low-cost/free immigration legal services to indigenous migrants.
Emily Wang (she/her) immigrated to the U.S. from a small town in central China. Her journey as an undocumented immigrant, first-generation college student at UCLA, and a mother has been defined by resilience and ambition. Having personally navigated the complexities of legal and educational systems as an immigrant, Emily is now determined to study law related to higher education to empower people facing similar challenges. She is committed to using her legal education to ensure equal access to opportunities and advocate for the rights of marginalized communities.
Enrique Chavira Cantu (he/him) immigrated to the United States at the age of six and became a DACA recipient in 2013. He has been an immigration law paralegal since 2013 and in 2015 gained admission to law school. Unfortunately, given the limited resources available to undocumented folks pursuing post-graduate degrees in Texas, he was forced to withdraw. In recent years, Enrique has worked to ensure the humane treatment of unaccompanied children at government detention facilities. Having seen a lack of representation of undocumented individuals in spaces where decisions are made, Enrique hopes to continue to affect change through impact litigation.
Guadalupe Avila (she/her) was born in Michoacán, Mexico and immigrated to the United States at the age of five. A first-generation undocumented college student, Guadalupe graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law, and Justice. She is a fundraising committee member for Mujeres Latinas en Acción, a non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. By obtaining a Juris Doctor, Guadalupe aspires to provide legal advocacy for low-income communities. Her ultimate goal is to establish a non-profit legal clinic with a team of specialized attorneys that provide pro-bono services.
Joaquim Pereira* (he/him) was born in Brazil and immigrated to a small town in the Pittsburgh area when he was in seventh grade. Now he’s a rising senior studying political science with minors in history and Spanish. Growing up seeing first hand how his immigrant family was treated differently, often having their labor rights violated, inspired Joaquim to attend law school and become a workers’ rights attorney.
The injustices that Karla Mejia Bonilla (she/her) experienced first-hand inspired her to become an advocate for herself and other marginalized individuals. A graduate from USC with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a minor in Law and Migration Studies, she aspires to address the issues that impact immigrants and incarcerated individuals to help them better integrate into society and exercise their human rights in the U.S. Karla believes that pursuing a legal education will prepare her to fairly represent and protect these individuals under the law.
Mari Flores (she/her) lives in Washington state and began organizing for undocumented students in 2010. Since then, she has been a staunch advocate for immigrants, volunteering for nonprofits that promote immigrant rights and provide educational resources. As an aspiring lawyer, she is interested in civil rights and seeks to give back to immigrant communities.
Rosie C.* (she/her) came to the U.S. at the age of 14 and currently lives in the midwestern United States. She is excited to pursue a lifelong dream by attending law school in order to provide direct legal services to vulnerable communities in need. As an attorney, she plans on serving as a fierce advocate in court. Rosie is thrilled and deeply appreciative to be supported by Immigrants Rising and is excited to pay it forward in the future.
Shalom Olajide (she/her) is a rising senior at Hunter College pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a double minor in Legal Studies and Public Policy. Shalom moved to the United States from Nigeria when she was 11 years old and has lived here ever since. After graduating college, Shalom intends to attend law school to better equip herself to serve her immigrant community that lacked undocumented representation while she was growing up.
Therese Rodriguez* (she/her) was born in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, immigrated to the U.S. at the age of two, and was raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Having grown up without control over her status, Therese understands the complexity a person’s immigration status can take on. She also understands the injustices and fears immigrants face every day. That’s why she aspires to advocate for her community and others through practicing law.
We are excited to follow their trajectories as they aim ever higher in their work of transforming their communities through a career in law.
We are only able to do this work because of generous community support. To make a donation to support this program, click here.
This year’s Pre-Law Fund is made possible because of the generous financial support of these incredible donors: Kathryn Abrams, Tanya Broder & Theodore Wang, Yuen & Sandra Gin, The Arturo & Rosa González Family Giving Fund, Johanna Hartwig & Stefano DeZerega, Barry Hovis, Elizabeth J. Kramer Charitable Fund, Francine Lipman, Nakada Hoang Donor Advised Fund, Jeannie & Christopher Rhee, Larry Hilblom Foundation.
*Name was changed to protect the recipient’s identity.