Class of 2018

Keith Barry

Keith is passionate about providing legal services to forgotten people. This passion was ingrained in him while growing up in a low-income household and working as a laborer in the Teamsters Union. While working in the union Keith saw that working people were being left behind and had to face daily injustices purely because of their class. This solidified his belief that he had a personal and moral duty to advocate for such people.

As an undergraduate at Brandeis University, Keith was dedicated to college debate and along with his partner became the most successful debate partnership in university history. During these years he also worked at the Brandeis Innocence Project doing research on cases of possible wrongful conviction. Following graduation Keith was the campaign manager of a legislative race in New York where he successfully organized an underserved community to advocate for political and social change. Following that race Keith transitioned to the education sector where he has been assisting US schools in developing models of sustainable international education and teaching debate to students from around the world.

Elizabeth Caldwell

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice

Beth is from Augusta, Georgia and graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University in 2012. Her history honors thesis explored the use of credit in the antebellum United States and, particularly, the use of slaves as collateral in financing the expansion of slavery into the southwestern frontier. Outside of the classroom, Beth worked closely with the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless to advocate for several pieces of legislation on foreclosure prevention, affordable housing, and the rights of homeless individuals in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

As a member of Brown’s Student Labor Alliance and Student/Farmworker Alliance, she also worked on campaigns to protect low-wage workers’ access to healthcare, living wages, and just working conditions. For the last three years, Beth has worked in Durham, North Carolina at MDC, a nonprofit focused on economic justice in the America South. At MDC, she has helped to launch a local partnership to ensure that young adults who grow up in Durham find living wage work and benefit from the region’s thriving economy. Beth is excited to join NYU’s public interest community. After law school, she intends to return to the South and work on issues of racial and economic justice.

Brandon Davis

Brandon Davis graduated from Princeton University with a degree in anthropology in 2013.  In college, Brandon was involved in Palestine solidarity activism and journalism.  He interned with the Bethlehem- based Ma'an News Agency, and wrote his senior thesis about the relationship between US LGBT culture and Israeli tourism.  He remains active with the New York chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, a Palestine solidarity and anti-racist organization of Jewish activists.  

Since graduation,  Brandon has worked as a paralegal in the housing division of MFY Legal Services where he assists tenants obtain repairs from their landlords and prevent eviction.  His time as a union delegate, Local 2320 of the UAW, was especially formative in developing his interest in the administration of legal services nonprofits.  Brandon hopes to utilize the law school education to improve and expand the provision of legal services in New York City and the US at large.

Terry Ding

Terry graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics. During college, he worked with a student group that mentored and provided year-round academic programming to immigrant and refugee high school students in the Greater Boston area. He also led several spring break trips to the Mississippi delta to contribute to post-Katrina rebuilding efforts. Immediately after college, Terry taught high school math at a Chicago charter school serving young African-American men.

For the past two years, he has been a paralegal at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project in New York, where he has supported attorneys on litigation seeking to protect and expand the rights of immigrants. He has worked on cases involving discriminatory state and local anti-immigrant laws, the due process rights of Central American asylum-seekers, and abusive practices of immigration enforcement agencies. He is excited to continue working with immigrant communities during law school, and to use his law degree to represent asylum-seekers fleeing persecution and violence, as well as to advocate for a more just and humane system of immigration laws in this country.

Zoe Engberg

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice

Zoe comes to NYU from three years as a Staff Investigator at the Orleans Public Defender’s Office (OPD). While at OPD, she helped establish the office’s capital defense practice and spent two years doing fact and mitigation investigation for clients facing the death penalty in New Orleans. While putting together the capital division, Zoe studied and implemented the highest national standards of capital representation. She also used her experience to train attorneys and investigators in Louisiana and elsewhere on providing zealous, client-centered defense investigation. Zoe’s passion for public defense and prisoner’s rights emerged from a background of social justice organizing and academics.

She graduated with First Class Honours from McGill University, where she studied Sociology, Sexual Diversity Studies, and World Religions. She served as an associate editor for Sprinkle, the undergraduate journal of feminist and queer studies, and took part in many social justice organizations, including the McGill Anti-Racist Coalition, the Queer McGill’s Allies Program, and Books to Prisoners. Zoe plans to use her education at NYU to help indigent clients caught in the criminal justice system. She is a proud native of Pittsburgh, PA.

Angela Galdamez

Angela is excited to join the Root-Tilden-Kern community and serve as a staunch legal advocate for the traditionally underserved. Angela was born and raised in Albany Park, one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods of Chicago. Her passion for public service began with a desire to help people like her family receive accessible legal services.

Angela graduated with an honors degree in International Studies from the University of Chicago. While in school, Angela received the Gilman International Scholarship that allowed her to study abroad in Barcelona for one year. In Spain, Angela focused her studies on Catalonian history and culture during the Spanish Civil War.

After graduation, Angela worked as a legal assistant at a toxic tort litigation firm in Chicago. Angela was also a paralegal at the ACLU of Northern California in San Francisco, where she focused on immigrants’ rights, racial justice, LGBT and education equity issues. Angela oversaw the client intake program of the organization and conducted Spanish-langue intakes with community members and immigration detainees. In her spare time, Angela volunteered as a Spanish legal translator for Social Justice Collaborative, a non-profit in Oakland that specializes in immigration and criminal defense for low-income individuals.

After law school, Angela aspires to be a legal advocate that promotes a restorative justice and holistic approach to the criminal justice system. In the long-term, Angela hopes to advance social justice causes by becoming an impact litigation attorney.

Dany Greene

Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women And Children

Dany grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis in 2014 with degrees in Psychology and Gender & Sexuality Studies. As a student, Dany advocated for the LGBTQ community through peer education, academic research, political activism, and direct service and was honored for these efforts with the 2013 James Holobaugh Award for LGBTQ leadership. While teaching a tri-weekly class at the local women’s jail in St. Louis, Dany developed a passion for criminal justice and prison reform and gained insight into problems plaguing these prejudiced systems. Out of a desire to advocate for low-income people in the legal system, after graduation Dany worked at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) in the Family Law Unit. In conducting interviews and assessments with domestic violence victims, Dany has seen that victims’ intertwined and complex needs are often inadequately addressed by the current legal remedies, which utilize punitive and discriminatory policies. Dany’s long-term goal is to provide holistic defense to indigent women, youth, and LGBTQ people who are targeted, prosecuted, and sentenced by our criminal justice and child welfare systems. As a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar, Dany intends to build the skills needed to most effectively address the variety of issues faced by these marginalized populations.

Ilana Herr

Coben Scholar

Ilana was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University in 2012 with a double major in Architectural Studies and Art History. Her passion for social justice was nurtured from an early age by her parents, who dedicated their lives to the pursuit of equality. Ilana grew up in a bilingual household, and while in college, taught weekly English classes for the Tufts’ Latino janitorial staff. After graduation, Ilana served as an Avodah corps member in New York City and was placed at Sanctuary for Families. For nearly three years, Ilana worked in the Anti-Trafficking Initiative as a case manager for women and children who primarily came from Central and Latin America. Ilana worked alongside immigration attorneys to assist undocumented clients in obtaining legal immigration status and other benefits. During law school, Ilana interned with The Bronx Defenders and the Office of the Georgia Capital Defender. Ilana is currently a student advocate in NYU’s Immigrant Rights Clinic. After law school, Ilana hopes to continue working with and supporting immigrant communities. She is particularly interested in the intersection of immigration and criminal justice. 

Daniel Loehr

WilmerHale Scholar

Daniel is concerned with inequities and excesses in American policing, deportation, and eviction practices. Before coming to law school, Daniel worked as a criminal defense investigator for The Bronx Defenders. During his time studying Political Science at Middlebury College, Daniel went to Tunisia to cover the constitution-writing process for Tunisia Live, provided basic services to migrant farm workers in rural Vermont, and received a grant to bike across the country and document the experiences of people living with PTSD for the War InVoice project. Before that, Daniel lived at a house of hospitality serving undocumented immigrants in El Paso, TX. Daniel is the 2013 Truman Scholar from his home state of New Hampshire and is currently a Truman Democracy Fellow. After law school, Daniel hopes to use legal services, city policy, and community organizing to improve the daily quality of life for low-income New Yorkers.

Viona Miller

Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children, and Families

Viona is passionate about advocating for children and families in communities impacted by educational injustice and economic disparities. Her passion derives from witnessing educational inequities first hand and from her experiences teaching in Detroit.  
 
While attending the University of Maryland, Viona was disappointed in the lack of diversity, particularly within the engineering program. Thus, she became heavily involved in tutoring and mentoring programs including a summer program where she developed and implemented a robotics introductory programming course to minority students. Upon graduating, she joined Teach for America and spent the past two years teaching middle school math at a charter school in Detroit. There she organized the school’s first Student Government Association, became the advisor of the National Junior Honor Society, and served on the school improvement team where she assisted in designing the school’s reform plan. To gain a better understanding of the complex issues within the educational system, Viona obtained her master’s in Educational Studies and Urban Pedagogy from the University of Michigan.
 
Viona’s long-term goals are to use the law to advocate against inequality and help build a future where everyone, regardless of their background or area code, has a fighting chance for success.

Narisa Silver

FILOMEN M. D’AGOSTINO SCHOLAR FOR WOMEN and CHILDREN

Narisa graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, San Diego in 2011 with a major in Sociology – Social Inequality and minors in International Studies and African Studies. During her undergraduate years, Narisa devoted herself both in and out of academics to understanding how the current state of the world was reached, and what can be done to effectively change it. This led to experiences from mentoring college-bound students living on the US-Mexico border to working as a graduate-level research assistant for the African and African American Studies Research Center. These experiences strongly contributed to her decision to pursue a career in public service.

Narisa was born and raised in California, but her interest in exploring other ways of life took her to the East Coast and Mexico after graduation. She served as a Citizen Schools National Teaching Fellow in Massachusetts after graduating from college, and then worked as an international instructor for Save the Children in the indigenous community of San Mateo Ozolco, Mexico. Afterward, she worked as a bilingual paralegal for the Immigrant Victims Representation Project at Catholic Social Services of Fall River, where she wrote, translated, and edited original affidavits for use in court, referred clients to community resources for basic needs such as mental health treatment and adequate housing, and managed the entire immigration department's intake system. This experience showed her how effective and culturally sensitive legal services work can transform the lives of those most in need, regardless of age, gender, background, or country of origin.

During her time at NYU Law, Narisa hopes to contribute to the school's tradition of effective client advocacy and academic excellence. Her broad legal interests include criminal defense, international work, sentencing policy reform, advocating for multicultural victims of domestic violence, and improving America's public transportation systems. Her greatest inspirations to help the disadvantaged and victimized through the legal field are her own upbringing and personal life experiences. In her spare time, she enjoys watching documentaries, traveling, cooking, bicycling, and studying foreign languages.

Lindsey Smith

Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women and Children

Lindsey is from Houston, Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012, where she studied political theory and Arabic and was a student co-founder of the Jefferson Center for Core Texts and Ideas, which aimed to provide a space for meaningful student-led discussion of ethics, justice, and politics. As an intern for over two years at the Texas Civil Rights Project, she researched and wrote Human Rights Reports on prison health care reform, banned books in prisons, and inequitable funding of education among schools in Austin’s public school district. Lindsey spent 2012 to 2013 in Cairo, Egypt as a Fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad and a Fulbright Student Scholar, completing a project on the intersection of Western classical theory of liberalism and modern Egyptian political discourse. For the last two years, she has worked as a paralegal at Children’s Rights in New York supporting impact litigation on behalf of children in foster care.

Lindsey is currently exploring how legal advocacy skills can be used to dismantle the dehumanizing us-and-them frameworks that define large areas of both domestic and international law, whether in criminal law reform, environmental justice, or  human rights both within the United States and abroad. Lindsey is especially interested in movement legitimacy and decisional autonomy as they relate to advocacy on behalf of marginalized or otherwise vulnerable populations.

Heather Stoloff

Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar

Heather first encountered the civil legal needs of people living poverty while interning at a suicide crisis hotline in her native New Jersey and again while volunteering at a social organization for people with mental illness in Be’er Sheva, Israel. Those experiences focused her lifelong passion for public service on direct civil legal representation.

Upon graduating summa cum laude from Brandeis University in 2013, Heather served two years as an AmeriCorps Paralegal in two legal aid offices. In her role she explored a variety of practice areas while also exposing herself to an array of access to justice issues including literacy, language, age, race, gender, and sexuality. She advocated for clients with public benefits cases and performed intake for the Lawyer of the Day program at the Lowell Session of the Northeast Housing Court of Massachusetts. She also drafted a variety of pleadings and motions for victims of domestic violence with family law cases. Heather is attending law school in order to broaden and maximize the impact of her advocacy. Heather’s ultimate goal is to deconstruct the legal barriers that prevent low- income individuals and families from obtaining healthy, safe, and sustainable lifestyles. Along the way, she hopes to become involved with impact litigation, community lawyering, and holistic legal representation.

Marshall Thomas

Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar

Marshall Thomas is interested in criminal justice reform as a key dimension of the fight for racial equality in America. Before entering law school, he worked as a paralegal at the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project, supporting attorneys engaged in litigation and advocacy to reform police departments, indigent defense systems, and drug and sentencing laws, among other issues. His work also included correspondence with inmates seeking legal assistance and preparation of clemency petitions for individuals serving life sentences for nonviolent drug crimes.

A creative writing major as an undergraduate, Marshall also enjoys reading and writing poetry. Writers of color like Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Claudia Rankine, and Terrance Hayes provide him with poignant reminders of the urgency of social and legal reform. Marshall hopes to become a public defender after law school, and more broadly, an advocate for changes to our racially discriminatory and overly punitive criminal justice system.

Kayla Vinson

Andrew W. Mellon Scholar

A native of Atlanta, GA, Kayla graduated from Yale University in 2011 with the a B.A. in Sociology and African American Studies. While at Yale, Kayla was a Mellon Mays Research Fellow whose research focused on the public school experiences of students of color. She was particularly interested in the efficacy of long held theories around "acting white" and fear of school success in explaining the academic achievement of Black students. Outside of the classroom, Kayla was heavily involved in the Education Network of Yale's Dwight Hall Center for Public Service, through which she managed the undergraduate organizations that served the New Haven Public School System. She also completed the course work for Yale's Teacher Preparation Program. Through all of these experiences, Kayla found that the underachievement of Black students is significantly impacted by structural realities in schools, more so than self-defeating attitudes of the students.

After Yale, Kayla followed the traditional pathway to a career in teaching by completing an M.S.Ed in Secondary Education at the University of Pennsylvania. After earning her teaching certificate, she first taught at a transfer high school for over-age, under-credited youth in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn. Here she saw that school "stopped working" for most of her students in middle school. This is what led her to her current position as a middle school teacher at the Harlem Children's Zone's Promise Academy II.

Starting in the fall, Kayla is pursuing a JD form NYU in conjunction with an MPA from the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. The most lasting impression the school system has left on Kayla is the innumerable people for whom the system persistently does not work. She plans to use her legal and policy training to change this reality.

Tyler Walton

Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar

Tyler grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where he developed an early interest in international service through several service trips to Mexico. Later, while studying at the University of Missouri, he continued to explore service opportunities. He worked as the director for a weeklong day camp for youth living in poverty in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. He also became a volunteer through the Columbia Health Department working on youth health outreach. With a focus on sexual and developmental health, he strived to augment the abstinence only education that is mandatory in Missouri schools, and provide young students with all the information they needed to make healthy and informed decisions. In addition he worked on HIV prevention with at-risk populations in prisons and colleges throughout Missouri.

Following graduation from the University of Missouri, Tyler moved to Malawi in southern Africa where he served for two years as a health extension worker through Peace Corps. While living in Malawi he continued his work with HIV prevention among youth, as well as economic development work with people living with HIV and projects to create safe water access in remote villages. In addition to his local work, he also worked at the national Peace Corps office as the Diversity Committee Training Coordinator. Through this position, he was able to work with local Malawian staff members on issues of diversity. One special focus area that he developed and implemented trainings on was LGBT awareness and support. Helping local staff gain a better understanding of LGBT issues and engaging them on a topic full of so many taboos in their local culture was a highlight of his service. As Tyler enters NYU Law, he hopes to develop knowledge and skills to prepare for more effective global service. He plans to continue to explore his two passions of international human rights and LGBT issues; and develop a career pathway that serves the LGBT population in the developing world.

Poy Winichakul

STARR FOUNDATION SCHOLAR

Poy Winichakul is passionate about civic engagement and ensuring full access to the political process for all.

Prior to law school, Poy was the Co-Director of LaunchProgress Political Action Committee, an organization that works to recruit and support young progressives running for state and loca office, especially young people from underrepresented backgrounds. She previously served as Special Assistant to the President at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, where she helped oversee the day-to-day operations of the think tank and public interest law firm that works to reform our electoral and judicial systems. While pursuing her B.A. at Oberlin College, she found Helping Oberlin Maintain Equity (H.O.M.E.), a nonprofit dedicated to improving the impact of the home foreclosure crisis in northeast Ohio. She has worked on multiple issue and electoral campaigns and has previously worked with Senator Tammy Baldwin and with Senator Russ Feingold's Progressives United PAC.

After law school, Poy hopes to work on election reform issues like voting rights, campaign finance reform, and redistricting at the federal level and in her home state of Wisconsin.

Audrey-Marie Winn

FILOMEN M. D'AGOSTINO SCHOLAR FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, CIVIL LIBERTIES AND/OR CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Growing up in a working-class home with a history of industrial accidents, Audrey Winn witnessed the ways in which labor injustices can disrupt lives. Because of her experiences, she is passionate about advocating for workers and their families. Before joining the Root-Tilden-Kern community, Audrey got her degree in Chinese, Philosophy, and Non-Fiction Writing from the University of Pittsburgh, graduating summa cum laude and valedictorian of her class. She organized migrant workers in China while on a State Department fellowship, helped the ACLU develop programs to protect limited-English proficient workers, and traveled to Amsterdam with the Humanity in Action Fellowship to research how regional differences in European sex policy have affected trafficked women. She believes that systemic change happens most effectively through collaboration with community-based organizations.

During Audrey’s 1L summer, she worked at the United Steel Workers, where she focused on safety, wage theft, and ERISA issues. Her 2L summer, she worked at the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, and focused on issues involving injuries, free agency, and developing ways that collective bargaining can better help minor league players and address the MLB’s exploitative recruitment of Latin American children. Currently, her research interests focus on labor policy in the face of automation, organizing in right-to-work states, and US-China worker solidarity in the context of Walmart organizing.  In the future, she hopes to have a career where she gets to work in plaintiff-side appellate litigation, large unions, and labor policy roles within government and IGO's. When Audrey isn’t doing labor work, she is boxing, binge-watching K-Dramas, and submitting humor pieces that invariably involve jokes about PA Senator Pat Toomey. 

Victoria Yee

Sinsheimer Service Scholar

Born and raised in the heart of Little Saigon in Westminster, CA, Victoria Yee graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University in 2013. She received a MA in Sociology, a BA with Honors and University Distinction in Asian American Studies, and a minor in Chinese. As a student, Victoria was involved in grassroots organizing, student activism, and community outreach. She helped lead Stanford's 2010 Living Wage Campaign and served as an Eva Lowe Fellow for Social Justice at the San Francisco Chinese Progressive Association. Victoria is also an alumna of the UCLA Law Fellows program and the Public Policy, International Affairs, and Law Junior Summer Institute.

After graduation, Victoria interned at the Orange County Public Defender's Office and worked as a legal assistant at Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP. Victoria then served as a U.S. Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in rural Taiwan at an elementary school of largely low-income students from the indigenous Beinan tribe. Victoria hopes to learn new tools in law school to help achieve justice for low-income immigrant communities and restructure systems of inequity.

Sidra Zaidi

Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women And Children

Sidra is an aspiring healthcare transformer. Born in Pakistan, she calls Joplin, Missouri home. In 2011, a catastrophic tornado destroyed one-third of her hometown. These events exposed Sidra to lived realities faced by vulnerable communities, and fueled her passion for public interest law, with a focus on healthcare reform.

Sidra first explored barriers to accessing affordable healthcare as a student journalist: She investigated healthcare reform as an editor and columnist for the #1 non-daily college paper in the U.S. and as an intern for NPR. She then landed in the Big Apple, where she lent programmatic support to women’s health advocacy nonprofits. Her passion for amplifying positive health outcomes also led Sidra to Kenya. While in Nairobi, she served as a health educator for disadvantaged adolescent girls. Additionally, she helped local lesbian/bisexual/transgender/intersex rights activists author the first study on Kenyan lesbian women’s health.

Seeking to more deeply understand the U.S. patient perspective, Sidra also worked for Oscar Health, an Obamacare insurer. She resolved complex medical billing mysteries, and helped patients navigate their plans and the broader American healthcare system. This role built upon her graduate coursework: Sidra holds an MA in Human Right Studies from Columbia University, where she researched non-discrimination policies in California health law.

Through her legal education at NYU, Sidra aims to contribute to innovation efforts for healthcare governance in the Obamacare era. She desires to promote clearer and more direct health standards that emphasize patient protection, value-based care, and cost transparency.

Class of 2019

Tovah Ackerman

Tovah Ackerman grew up in Eden Prairie, Minnesota and attended Amherst College, where she became interested in criminal justice and interned for the New England Innocence Project. After college, Tovah worked at the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Manhattan, then returned to school to get her MPhil in Criminology at the University of Cambridge on a Gates Cambridge Fellowship. Tovah then received her M.A. in Rhetoric as a Regents Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on the public discourse surrounding crime and punishment in the United States. Before coming to NYU, she worked as an investigator for the Habeas Corpus Resource Center, a death penalty appeals organization in San Francisco, where she conducted both trial and penalty phase investigation for California state capital habeas corpus proceedings.

After law school, Tovah plans to continue her work in prisons, fighting to reduce sentences, provide legal and educational services, and improve conditions of confinement for incarcerated men and women.

Patrick Angulo

Patrick Angulo is from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame majoring in Political Science and International Peace Studies. He participated on the Notre Dame Debate Team and studied abroad in Santiago, Chile. While at Notre Dame, he was involved in numerous service programs through the University’s Center for Social Concerns. These programs included teaching in classrooms in communities throughout the United States and in Chile. After graduating from Notre Dame, Patrick joined Teach for America and taught in Alamogordo, New Mexico. In Alamogordo, he taught middle school special education and coached the 7th grade basketball team. After completing Teach for America, Patrick moved to Boston and worked as an English Language Learners Specialist at KIPP Academy Boston. He also taught English for adults during evening classes, and founded the KIPP Academy’s Debate Team. While in Boston, Patrick also served as a Citizenship Intern at the Irish International Immigrant Center, a nonprofit that supports clients from low-income communities as they prepare for naturalization. As an attorney, Patrick hopes to continue serving similar communities including children and immigrants. 

Mariela Cisneros-Carmona

Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women And Children

Mariela Cisneros received a cum laude diploma from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014 where she studied Political Science and minored in French. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, she grew acutely aware of the need to represent vulnerable communities, particularly immigrant women and children. During college, she worked for a small immigration firm in Oakland, CA. There, while meeting with asylum seekers and victims of violent crime, she had her first experience with the complexities and shortcomings of the U.S. immigration system. This frustration eventually led her to the White House where she interned for the Domestic Policy Council, Office of Immigration Policy under President Obama. She was entrusted with the task of helping the President further his vision for a more just immigration system amid growing national anti-immigrant sentiment and institutional constraints. She spent the last year in Turkey as an English Teaching Assistant through the Fulbright program. Her contact with a mixture of Turkish, Syrian, and Yemini students broadened her scope of understanding of immigration issues from a domestic to an international scale. She has come to realize the grave importance of upholding refugees’ rights no matter the context. After NYU, Mariela hopes to continue serving immigrant communities throughout the U.S. She will push for comprehensive policy changes to fix our broken system. She fundamentally believes that our collective history as immigrants is the most important aspect of our identity as a nation. She is a native of Salem, Oregon and a Gates Millennium Scholar.

Sean Eagan

Sinsheimer Service Scholar

Sean joins the NYU law student body after three years working in direct social services as a wrap care coordinator. In this role, Sean served the ten highest need students at a Washington, DC middle school, guiding them and their families through wraparound, an intensive case management and care planning process. Using a “families know best” approach, Sean worked with a variety of DC agencies, systems and mental health providers to ensure that children and their families received appropriate interventions, made progress toward their life goals, and avoided further sanctions from school, juvenile justice, and child welfare systems. Sean was first inspired to pursue a career in direct service while serving as a City Year AmeriCorps member. Working at the same school he would later serve in as a wrap care coordinator, Sean worked as a teacher’s assistant during the school day, a mentor during lunch time, and a tutor afterschool. Prior to joining City Year, Sean earned his B.A. in Political Science and Economics, magna cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts. As an attorney, Sean will continue in a direct service role, working for clients who need but cannot afford representation in civil legal matters. Through this work, he will continue to fight for his country’s poorest citizens, ensuring their voices are heard and their needs are met. Sean hopes to one day take these experiences into the policy arena, advocating for a broader social safety net that is created by and responsive to the citizens it seeks to protect.

Molly Griffard

Starr Foundation Scholar

Molly Griffard was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri. She got her start as an activist and organizer as a teenager by volunteering on campaigns to stop the use of the death penalty in Missouri. In 2009, she graduated from Macalester College, where she majored in Political Science. As an undergraduate, she spent many hours outside of the classroom campaigning for progressive candidates and causes like voting rights for students and low income people and higher education affordability and access. Most recently, Molly worked at the ACLU as a State Advocacy Strategist on the LGBT-focused Out for Freedom Campaign. In this role, she worked on legislative, ballot, and public education campaigns to advance policies including marriage equality and LGBT-nondiscrimination, while fighting back against anti-LGBT measures. Prior to joining the ACLU's Out for Freedom Campaign, Molly worked on numerous LGBT state campaigns, including the 2012 ballot campaign in Maine and legislative campaigns in Washington, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Utah. Molly looks forward to gaining advocacy skills and a deeper understanding of the legal system to put to use for social change.

Emily Harris

Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar

Emily is passionate about improving outcomes for individuals and families touched by the criminal justice system. Prior to joining the NYU Law class of 2019, Emily worked with community groups seeking to end gun violence as a Paralegal in the Community Justice Unit of the Legal Aid Society of New York. She has also served as a Policy Analyst for the Council of State Governments Justice Center where she worked with courts and judges to improve mental health courts and pretrial policies nationwide. Emily has also worked to advance holistic defense with public defender offices across the country through the Community-Oriented Defender Network while at the Brennan Center for Justice and with the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. Emily received her B.A. in Religious and Political Philosophy from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. She plans to use her law degree to continue her career working with communities and providers to improve the reach and provision of innovative and holistic public defense services and to end collateral consequences of criminal convictions.

Nia Holston

Nia is originally from Philadelphia, PA. She graduated from Yale in 2014, earning a BA in Political Science and African American Studies, with distinction in both majors. She spent much of her time in college involved in the black community, serving as the Political Action Chair for the Black Student Alliance, and a board member for the Black Solidarity Conference. She also served as Democratic Co-Chair for New Haven's Ward 1 community, helping to organize local political campaigns and serving as one of the youngest delegates to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Nia is most passionate about using collective power to organize and advocate against mass incarceration, particularly as it impacts various and intersecting forms of oppression. Following her college graduation, she spent two years at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, AL, where she helped to manage intake protocols and practices, supported clients returning from prison, investigated abusive conditions at Alabama prisons and jails, and assisted with community outreach and research for EJI's Race and Poverty Project. Although Nia believes, as Coretta Scott King said, that "struggle is a never ending process," she remains steadfast, and wholly committed to that struggle. 

Paul Leroux

Andrew W. Mellon Scholar

Paul Leroux grew up in Bakersfield, Vermont. He holds an honors degree in Social Studies from Harvard University, where he wrote his thesis on how mayors relate to the federal government. In college, he directed programs that provide civics lessons to youth, and taught essentials of government in schools and summer camps throughout Greater Boston. Paul also served on the Harvard University Institute of Politics Student Advisory Committee, advised first-year students as a Peer Advising Fellow, and worked for three years at the Widener Library Circulation Desk.

Paul came to NYU from the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., where he served as Program Director. In this role, Paul helped mayors interact with each other and the federal government in order to address city needs. Among other projects, Paul managed the Conference’s multi-year collaborations in the U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund and the Menino Survey of Mayors, helped develop the “Invest and Protect” agenda for the 2016 Presidential Election, and supported Flint Mayor Karen Weaver in her efforts to get relief for her city in its ongoing water contamination crisis. He also handled a broad international portfolio, ensuring U.S. mayors’ representation on the world stage.

At NYU, Paul serves as a Staff Editor of the Review of Law and Social Change and participates in the New York State Office of the Attorney General’s Social Justice Externship. During his 1L summer, Paul interned in the Legal Counsel Division of the New York City Law Department. After law school, he hopes to return to the intersection of national and local government in order to restore marginalized constituents’ faith in the political process and help city leaders secure resources for their communities.

Grace Li

DORIS C. AND ALAN J. FREEDMAN SCHOLAR

Grace was born in Beijing, China and grew up in Media, Pennsylvania. In 2014, she graduated from Princeton University, where she studied in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Program in Finance. At Princeton, she volunteered as a tutor and student leader in the Petey Greene Program, an organization that provides supplemental academic support for incarcerated students. Her experience working in prisons and with incarcerated individuals in central New Jersey led her to co-found and lead Students for Prison Education and Reform (SPEAR), a student group whose projects have included public education events about solitary confinement and an ongoing campaign calling on Princeton University to stop considering prospective students’ criminal histories in their applications for undergraduate admission. After graduation, Grace worked to expand Petey Greene Program to New York City as a Charles W. Puttkammer ’58 Reentry Fellow. She created and ran programs bringing university students to tutor high school equivalency and adult basic education students in federal jails in New York City as well as high school students on Rikers Island. During her second year with the fellowship, she worked in monitoring and evaluation for Petey Greene. She intends to use her legal training to work as a public defender or to work to empower confined people through rights litigation.

Ryan Mendías

Ryan was born and raised in the South Bay of Los Angeles but relocated to the East Coast for college. He graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University with distinction in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and American Studies majors. Ryan was a leader in several LGBTQ student groups and an active member of the feminist, Latino, and Jewish communities on campus. For the last two years, Ryan has worked as a paralegal in the Public Policy Litigation and Law department of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. At PPFA, Ryan aided attorneys engaged in high impact reproductive rights litigation in state and federal courts across the country. Outside of PPFA, Ryan advocates for reproductive freedom through his volunteer work as an intake case manager with the New York Abortion Access Fund, where he secures financial assistance for low-income people seeking safe and legal abortion care. The arrest of a close family member in his sophomore year of college forced Ryan to confront the due process abuses that plague the criminal justice system, and, coupled with his activist commitments, spurred an interest in the practice of law. As a Root-Tilden-Kern scholar, Ryan hopes to build the skills necessary to be an effective advocate for progressive social change.

Sharmeen Morrison

William and Mary Sterling Scholar

Sharmeen believes that environmental litigators have an important role to play in protecting the public’s access to safe food, clean water, and breathable air. She has seen how people of color and limited means bear a disproportionate burden of environmental harms, and she has seen how these harms can translate into health outcomes that upend lives.

As a paralegal on the litigation team of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sharmeen helped realize justice for people shouldering environmental burdens. She worked on cases targeting the presence of the carcinogen hexavalent chromium in drinking water and the reproductive toxicant BPA in consumer products; she also helped with matters aiming to curb air pollution from coal-fired power plants and the overuse of antibiotics in livestock. Prior to joining NRDC, she studied substance use and youth cultures at the Institute for Scientific Analysis, a sociological research non-profit. While working toward her B.A. in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, Sharmeen completed a research program evaluation of Playworks, the national organization that aims to reduce the incidence of school bullying, and tutored inmates at San Quentin State Prison. While her experiences throughout her native San Francisco Bay Area have been diverse and varied, freedom from environmental toxicity remains central to Sharmeen’s vision of social change. After her time at NYU, she hopes to advance environmental justice through impact litigation.

Jason Pedraza

FILOMEN M. D’AGOSTINO SCHOLAR FOR WOMEN And CHILDREN

Jason is from northern New Jersey. He graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor's degree in political science in 2011 and a master’s degree in higher and postsecondary education from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2016. He was primarily raised by his mother and grandmother, who arrived from Puerto Rico in the early 1970s. In those years, they lived through challenging circumstances stemming from his grandmother’s illiteracy. To unlock a better life, Jason’s grandmother constantly emphasized the importance of education. Indeed, his mother became the first in the family to graduate from college and was subsequently able to provide. 

Witnessing the transformational power of education firsthand, Jason has worked to expand educational opportunities for other disadvantaged children and families. Before attending NYU Law, he worked and volunteered across the education sector in New Jersey and New York at the North Star Academy, the Princeton-Blairstown Center, Revolution Prep, Say Yes to Education, and Teachers College. The summer before 1L, he was selected as a Sponsors for Educational Opportunity Law Fellow and worked at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where he focused on education and civil rights pro bono matters. After 1L, he interned at Advocates for Children of New York (AFC). At AFC, he worked closely with families to secure the educational rights of children and conducted legal and policy research. Jason genuinely believes that education can disrupt inequality, and he will continue to fight for disadvantaged children and families to have an equal opportunity to an education that will unlock a better life.


Aubrey Rose

FILOMEN M. D’AGOSTINO SCHOLAR FOR WOMEN And CHILDREN

Aubrey Rose is focused on the intersection of criminal justice reform and mental health. Before law school, Aubrey worked as a mitigation specialist for pre-trial defendants facing the death penalty in rural parishes in Louisiana. In this position, Aubrey developed witnesses and gathered records to be presented at the penalty phase of capital trials and wrote social histories on issues that shaped the clients’ lives including mental illness, childhood trauma, addiction, and complex PTSD. Aubrey also worked as an investigative fellow at the D.C. Public Defender Service, where she conducted fact investigations in adult felony and juvenile cases. Aubrey graduated from American University with a B.A. in Law & Society. During her undergraduate studies, Aubrey worked at the Capital Litigation Communications Project and Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and published independent research on death penalty abolition and lack of due process protections for capital defendants. 

During law school, Aubrey spent her first summer working at Still She Rises, a new holistic office defending mothers in North Tulsa targeted by the criminal and child welfare systems. Aubrey is currently an advocate in NYU Law's Family Defense Clinic. 

Molly Rugg

FILOMEN M. D'AGOSTINO SCHOLAR FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, CIVIL LIBERTIES AND/OR CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Molly is broadly interested in issues of racial and socioeconomic justice. Prior to joining the Root-Tilden-Kern community, she worked for three years as a paralegal with the Voting Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In that capacity, she was part of an active impact litigation team that brought voting rights cases across the country. She was the trial paralegal for Missouri NAACP v. Ferguson-Florissant School District, a challenge to the district’s at-large system for electing school board members, which diluted the voting strength of the Black community. Molly also played a key role in unionizing the ACLU’s New York-based paralegals.

In the spring of her 1L year, Molly taught a course in legal research and writing for women incarcerated at Taconic Correctional Facility. She spent the following summer interning with the Tenants' Rights Unit at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), which provides free legal representation to low-income tenants in order to prevent homelessness and preserve safe and affordable housing.

During her first year out of college, Molly worked as a paralegal for Children’s Rights, a national nonprofit organization that reforms failing child welfare systems through federal class actions on behalf of children in state care. Her past experience also includes interning with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, and the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. Molly’s research for her 2012 bachelor’s degree in psychology at Yale University focused on gender ideology and its impact on interpersonal relationships. She was born and raised in Burlington, Vermont, and now lives in Brooklyn.

Nora Searle

FILOMEN M. D'AGOSTINO SCHOLAR FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, CIVIL LIBERTIES AND/OR CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Nora graduated from Barnard College in 2012. During college, she interned at the Goddard Riverside SRO Law Project, supporting tenants in organizing to preserve affordable housing, and at the Correctional Association of New York, where she contributed to monitoring of conditions in state prisons in the interest of policy change, public education, improved prison conditions, and alternatives to incarceration. From 2012 to 2014 Nora worked as a paralegal with the Federal Defenders of New York in the Eastern District, assisting attorneys at all stages of federal criminal cases. In 2014, she returned to Berkeley, California, her hometown, to work as a litigation assistant with the Prison Law Office. There, she corresponded with and interviewed people in prison and engaged in monitoring and advocacy related to conditions in California state prisons and county jails including issues concerning medical care, mental health care, physical disabilities, and developmental disabilities. She also worked with an attorney at the Prison Law Office to develop a project to reach out to transgender people in California state prisons and learn of the struggles faced by this group and their visions for change. As an attorney, Nora plans to continue working alongside incarcerated people.

Rachel Sommer

SULLIVAN & CROMWELL SCHOLAR

Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Rachel graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in international studies. Rachel also earned a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School. During and after divinity school, Rachel worked as a chaplain in a variety of settings, including a retirement home in Queens and a trauma hospital in North Philadelphia. Before coming to NYU, Rachel worked as a non-profit communications director and freelance communications consultant.

Rachel hopes to spend her career as a public interest lawyer working on community-based civil rights litigation. Last summer, she worked as a legal intern at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, which uses high-impact legal strategies to advance the civil, social and economic rights of Philadelphia communities. She is a Staff Editor of the New York University Law Review.

Carmen Tellez

COBEN SCHOLAR

Carmen grew up in Northern California and graduated from Occidental College in 2014 with a degree in Politics and a minor in Urban and Environmental Policy. Carmen is committed to working in the field of juvenile justice. Carmen led Occidental's branch of Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE), a curriculum-based mentoring program for middle school girls. After graduating, she worked as a JusticeCorps Graduate Fellow in Los Angeles where she led family law workshops for self-represented litigants. At NYU, Carmen is an events co-chair for If-When-How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice and has represented students in suspension hearings through the Suspension Representation Project. She interned at Youth Represent during the summer following her first year of law school and is enrolled in NYU's Family Defense Clinic. Carmen’s career goals have been profoundly shaped by her study of community lawyering and she hopes to use her law degree to provide client-centered and collaborative representation to justice-involved youth. 

Shaina Watrous

FILOMEN M. D'AGOSTINO SCHOLAR FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, CIVIL LIBERTIES AND/OR CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Shaina Watrous graduated with honors from Princeton University in 2014 with a degree in public policy and certificates in African American Studies and South Asian Studies. Her independent undergraduate work centered around poverty policy and incarceration, focusing on abusive prison conditions and the impact of incarceration on poor urban communities. Prior to attending college, Shaina participated in Princeton’s inaugural Bridge Year Program, through which she spent a year living in Varanasi, India. In Varanasi, she worked with Guria, a grassroots organization of attorneys and activists who combat sex trafficking through education initiatives, rescue operations, and legal interventions. She later returned to India to direct Specks of Dust, a documentary film about Guria’s work. At Princeton, Shaina spent all four years of college tutoring men and women in New Jersey prisons through the Petey Greene Program. She was a co-founder of Students for Prison Education and Reform (SPEAR), which engages the Princeton community in conversations about the criminal justice system through on-campus events and campaigns. Shaina has worked both with Legal Services of New Jersey and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association. Most recently, she established the Petey Greene Program’s Washington, DC and Maryland office, and ran the program there for two years.

Jane Wang Williams

WilmerHale Scholar

Jane is joining the NYU community after two years as a mitigation specialist and investigator for the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center (LCAC) in New Orleans, LA. At LCAC, Jane conducted investigations around the state of Louisiana in defense of indigent individuals charged with murder and threatened with the death penalty. Prior to LCAC, Jane worked as the Programs Fellow at the national office of the American Constitution Society in Washington, DC, where she organized national events and the 2014 ACS Convention. Jane graduated from Harvard College in 2013 with a concentration in Philosophy and a secondary in African-American Studies. During her summers in college, Jane served first as a Senior Counselor and later as Director of the Phillips Brooks House Association's Mission Hill Summer Program, a community-based educational summer day camp for at-risk youth in Boston. For her project focusing on food justice in Mission Hill in the summer of 2012, Jane was awarded a Harvard Presidential Public Service Fellowship. Between high school and college, Jane taught English in China and worked as Legal Assistant to the Chair of the Legal Redress Committee of the North Carolina NAACP. Jane is a proud native of Chapel Hill, NC.

Christina Wright

Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children, and Families

Christina was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. After Hurricane Katrina ravaged her hometown, Christina developed an intimate understanding of complex societal differences and the underlying systemic inequalities that afflict marginalized communities. While studying at the University of Texas at Austin, Christina participated in numerous programs that focused on addressing inequalities in a national and global context. As a junior at the University of Texas at Austin, Christina studied abroad in Ghana and worked with a local nonprofit to provide sessions for Ghanaian women that addressed leadership development and women empowerment. She also participated in the Bill Archer Fellowship Program, through which she interned with the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in Washington, D.C.

After recognizing the opportunities that result from a quality education, Christina became interested in how education may be used as a tool to create economic mobility and strengthen self-advocacy among members of historically disenfranchised groups. After graduating from college, Christina joined Teach For America, where she taught first grade for two years in Georgia. Subsequently, Christina attended the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she studied public policy. After completing graduate school, Christina spent six months teaching English in Colombia, South America. Through teaching and studying education, Christina believes that a quality education is a fundamental human right that everyone should have access to, irrespective of a person’s defining characteristics and/or socioeconomic status.

Class of 2020

Jordan Berger

Jordan Berger graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations and a minor in Law and Society. She is originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana. During her senior year, Jordan served as the President of the Cornell Undergraduate Student Assembly after serving as the Parliamentarian of the Assembly for the three years. Jordan worked to make shared governance at Cornell more accessible and inclusive of all students.

At Cornell, Jordan served as an Intergroup Dialogue Project Facilitator. Additionally, she was actively involved in the Hillel community as a member of the inaugural Hillel International Student Cabinet, served as the Chair of Cultural Programming on the Cornell Hillel Student Executive Board, and is also the founder and former President of the Cornell Interfaith Council.

Jordan is a passionate disability rights advocate. She has spent the past three summers doing disability rights internships for the Israeli and United States governments. In Israel, Jordan did research on alternatives to sheltered workshops for the Israeli Commission on Equal Rights for People with Disabilities. While at the White House, Jordan assisted Maria Town with the programming for the 25th Anniversary of the ADA. Jordan also interned for Judith Heumann at the U.S. State Department.

Nicholas Berghall

Nick’s work interests focus on helping remove social barriers by way of locally driven economic development and equal participation. Prior to joining the Root-Tilden-Kern community, he spent three years helping organize and implement various programs assisting small business owners in New York City. Most recently, he worked for a Brooklyn based economic development nonprofit helping owners of small manufacturing business create operational and administrative plans for growing their business and creating high paying, low barrier to entry jobs. Prior to that, at the New York City Department of Small Business Services, he assisted underserved entrepreneurs in competing through the NYC Minority and Women owned business program. In addition to volunteering as a startup business advisor, Nick has also regularly served as a personal finance instructor in Harlem. After graduating from NYU Law, he hopes to continue work using education, entrepreneurship, and equal economic access & attainment as tools for social progress.

Whitney Braunstein

FILOMEN M. D'AGOSTINO SCHOLAR FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, CIVIL LIBERTIES AND/OR CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Whitney is passionate about intersections between blackness and other marginalized identities, in particular black immigrants.  She has spent the past two years as a Community Fellow with Immigrant Justice Corps, where she has represented and provided legal consultations to primarily black immigrants throughout Brooklyn on matters ranging from asylum to naturalization to Temporary Protected Status. This experience has opened her eyes to the systemic injustice facing those at the intersection of the criminalization of blackness and the harsh consequences of contact with the criminal justice system on immigration status, as well as to the lack of dialogue around black immigrants and issues specific to their communities. She hopes to continue working to shed light on these issues and dismantle them as an attorney. Prior to joining Immigrant Justice Corps, Whitney graduated with honors from Tulane University with a BA in Spanish and Portuguese and a minor in Latin American Studies.  During her time at Tulane, she studied abroad in Havana, Cuba and in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, where she focused on expressions of blackness in Latin America. On campus, she served on the Executive Board of the Black Student Union and as an Ambassador for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. She received the Luso-Brazilian Studies Prize and was a member of the Oak Wreath, an award for graduating woman-identified students who excel in academics, service, and leadership. 

Asha Brundage-Moore

Starr Foundation Scholar

Asha grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii and Oakland, California. She graduated from Stanford University in 2015 with a BA in Human Biology concentrating in Food Policy. Asha spent two summers at Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale, California working with fellow Stanford students and faculty running a camp teaching local students about gardening, cooking, and healthy eating. Asha surveyed the participating children to see if their experience at camp led to a change in their vegetable preferences. In addition to influencing individual eating habits, Asha spent time at the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a policy intern analyzing national child nutrition programs. Asha believes everyone deserves access to affordable, healthy food and looks forward to learning how to achieve this goal as a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar.

Joy Chen

Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar

Joy was born in Baltimore and raised just outside of Princeton, New Jersey. She graduated from Yale College in 2015 with a degree in History. While at Yale, Joy first answered the call to public service during a summer internship at the Society for Community Organization (SoCO) - a nonprofit in Hong Kong which serves to uplift the city's most marginalized communities. While at SoCO, Joy worked on behalf of Hong Kong's foreign national prisoners, investigating their access to health services in two of the city's largest correctional facilities, and serving as a liaison between the foreign national inmates and other aid organizations. Her time at SoCO inspired her to learn more about the United States' own criminal justice system, and her research eventually led her to The Bronx Defenders, a public defenders office in The Bronx, where she worked as an Intern Investigator during the summer of 2014. As an Intern Investigator, Joy spent her days out in the Bronx community and provided assistance in case development for the organization's indigent clients. She located and interviewed witnesses, photographed crime scenes, drafted memoranda, and procured important video surveillance. Her work, which took her into private homes, local businesses, and community gathering spots, gave her a deep appreciation for the disparate impact that arrest, conviction, and incarceration have on low income communities of color in the United States. She left that summer feeling indignant about the nation's broken justice system, inspired by the organization's courageous staff and clients, and invigorated to continue the work following graduation. Joy joins the NYU Law and Root-Tilden-Kern communities following two years as a Staff Investigator at Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS). While there, she worked on over three hundred cases, including misdemeanor and felony cases, as well as cases in the organization's family, immigration, and housing departments. While at BDS, Joy also had the privilege of serving as Intern Supervisor, where she was able to spread the message of public defense and her love for investigation to college students. Joy is passionate about working on behalf of the accused and convicted in America's criminal justice system, and hopes to use her NYU Law degree to serve those most affected by incarceration and its collateral consequences.

Maia Cole

William and Mary Sterling Scholar

Maia is from Millburn, New Jersey, and graduated from Amherst College in 2014 with a degree in Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. There, she conducted extensive research about the death penalty, its unfair and racially biased application, and its representation in popular culture. After graduating, she worked as a civil rights paralegal at Relman, Dane & Colfax, working with attorneys on fair housing and fair lending cases. In this capacity, she saw the variety of barriers from government organizations, banks, and private individuals that her clients faced when trying to find and maintain their housing. Following two years as a paralegal, Maia moved to London to pursue her MA in comparative literature at SOAS, focusing primarily on African and African-American literature about slave narratives. Through this degree, she has explored how literature can be a critical part of the struggle to fight discrimination and build more equitable societies. After law school, Maia hopes to advocate on behalf of clients facing housing discrimination, and to work to develop policies and practices that promote fair housing.  

Kimberly Fayette

FILOMEN M. D'AGOSTINO SCHOLAR FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, CIVIL LIBERTIES AND/OR CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Originally from Massachusetts, Kimberly graduated from Brown University with a degree in Public Policy and American Institutions in 2014. With an eye on a career in civil rights and social justice, she undertook coursework and internships that helped cultivate her passion for public service. At the Rhode Island for Community and Justice’s Juvenile Justice Project, she worked to decrease the presence of under-resourced youth of color in the juvenile justice system. Kimberly also interned at Common Cause RI, dealing with issues of government transparency and ethics, the Rhode Island State Senate, and for the Mayoral Campaign of the current Mayor of Providence, Jorge Elorza.  

After college, Kimberly worked as an Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) Community Fellow in Brooklyn. As an IJC fellow, Kimberly represented immigrants, mostly from the Caribbean, on affirmative applications (such as Naturalization, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Temporary Protected Status, and Adjustment of Status) before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  In the second year of her IJC fellowship, Kimberly was placed at Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS). While at BDS, Kimberly saw, first hand, how mass incarceration negatively impacted the lives of immigrants and their families. She worked to mitigate the damaging effects of Brooklyn residents' interactions with the criminal justice system. Following her tenure as an IJC Community Fellow, Kimberly worked at the Office of Counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio in New York City as a paralegal, again focusing on issues of government transparency.  

Kimberly’s experience working with non-profit and government organizations have driven her to pursue a career in law that will allow her to tackle mass incarceration and racial injustice by better understanding the intersection between the law and public policy.  

Garrett Fisher

JACOBSON PUBLIC SERVICE SCHOLAR FOR WOMEN, CHILDREN, AND FAMILIES

Garrett is a native of Dallas, Texas and graduated with honors from Southern Methodist University in 2016, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management.  While at SMU, Garrett served as the African American Student Senator and worked with other student leaders and campus administrators to develop a strategic plan to increase diversity and improve the experiences of underrepresented students.  He also worked as a Student Director for an on campus mentoring program, which helped minority first-year students adjust to SMU.  During his undergraduate summers, Garrett studied comparative government and diplomacy at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.  Additionally, he spent two summers in Washington D.C., where he participated in the Institute for Responsible Citizenship and interned at Capital Impact Partners, a Community Development Financial Institution based in Arlington, Virginia.

In between completing his undergraduate studies and starting law school, Garrett worked as a Legislative Director in the Texas House of Representatives on key issues such as criminal justice reform, early childhood education, and combatting gentrification.  He also researched several pending federal court cases related to Texas’ voter identification laws and election maps.

Garrett is passionate about public policy and social entrepreneurship and plans to use his legal education to develop innovative solutions to issues that affect communities of color.

Amy Joseph

SINSHEIMER SERVICE SCHOLAR

Amy Joseph was blessed to be raised in New York and Florida, always surrounded by diverse communities of immigrants. This spurred in her a love for languages, and she majored in Spanish and minored in Linguistics at the University of Florida as an undergraduate. She then went on to pursue a Master’s in Foreign Language Education at the University of Texas at Austin, where she also taught English as a Second Language night classes. Working with mostly adults of Mexican descent, she was inspired to apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Mexico and learn more about her students’ culture as well as the immigration-related issues many of them faced. In Mexico, she volunteered at a migrants’ shelter as well as other organizations that worked with immigrants in Mexico City around issues of employment and housing.

Upon coming back to New York, Amy continued teaching adults but within an employment agency that worked with individuals receiving public assistance. Struck by how much her students’ civil and criminal legal issues impacted their education and employment, Amy decided to transition to the legal field as a paralegal with The Door. At The Door, Amy focuses on coordinating The Door’s coverage of the Unaccompanied Minors’ Surge docket, which is a docket composed of young people in expedited removal proceedings. She also works to connect young people in deportation proceedings with attorneys and help them pursue humanitarian relief. Amy is motivated to study law to be able to continue to work with the young people and adults that have so inspired her as they break down barriers to reach their full potential. 

Allison Mandeville

FILOMEN M. D'AGOSTINO SCHOLAR FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, CIVIL LIBERTIES AND/OR CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Allison is dedicated to advancing access to justice at the intersection of forced migration, human rights, and sexual and gender-based violence. She grew up in Sherman, Connecticut and spent her junior year of high school as a Rotary Youth Exchange Ambassador in Cambrils, Spain. Allison graduated summa cum laude from Yale University in 2015 with a degree in Modern Middle East Studies and completed her spring 2014 semester at Al-Quds University in the West Bank. Her senior thesis was awarded the Ellsworth Prize in the Social Sciences for its exploration of the impact of United Nations legal frameworks on Syrian and Palestinian refugee identity, aid provision, and durable solutions to displacement in the modern Middle East. While at Yale, Allison served as president and treasurer of the Yale Refugee Project and as a Spanish-English interpreter for detained asylum seekers through HIAS’ work with the Detained Torture Survivors Project, in addition to interning with the United Nations office of the International Organization for Migration. After college, Allison served as an Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) Community Fellow and Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representative, providing pro bono legal representation to hundreds of clients at the Arab American Association of New York, the IJC Adults with Children Project, and in family detention centers in southern Texas, where she worked specifically to secure the release of women and children asylum seekers detained upon apprehension at the border. Most recently, she assisted with the representation of Central American asylum seekers in removal proceedings in New York City Immigration Court, preparing affidavits and evidentiary submissions with men, women, and children fleeing gang warfare, domestic and sexual violence, and human trafficking. Allison aims to use her legal education to continue advocating for and working alongside individuals who have been persecuted, displaced, or otherwise denied access to justice for the mere fact of who they are or what passport they hold.

Juan Martinez-Hill

Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar

Juan was raised in Southern California as the son of an immigrant father from Torreón, Mexico. He is a dual-citizen and the only one of his siblings to be born in the United States. Before attending NYU, Juan worked as a Senior Paralegal at the New York Legal Assistance Group where he represented Public Assistance & SNAP Benefits clients in administrative law hearings to obtain wrongfully denied subsistence benefits. He has worked with several other civil and legal service organizations including the United Farm Workers Foundation, the New York Immigration Coalition, and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Eduction Fund. He assisted with the New York Civil Liberties Union’s 2012 Stop-and-Frisk Police Report as a Arthur Liman Public Interest Law Fellow and received the Hanoian Memorial Award to intern as a Prison Law Librarian in the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. He is a graduate of Brown University where he studied Philosophy & Political Science and is currently pursuing a J.D./M.A. in Politics. He hopes to pursue a career in International Trade & Labor Law as an advocate for Migrant Farm Workers’s Rights. His current interests are in work at the intersection of Immigration, Employment, and Criminal Justice Reform.

Dinesh McCoy

WilmerHale Scholar

Dinesh McCoy graduated with highest honors in 2015 with a degree in Global Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His honors thesis research focused on the role of neoliberal economic policy in reshaping perceptions of secularism within the Bharatiya Janata Party in India. Throughout his undergraduate experience, Dinesh was an active member of UNC’s Center for Social Justice, and eventually served as student co-president of the center during his last year of college. In this role, he collaborated with other campus leaders on campaigns to protect public university funding and academic freedom. After graduation, Dinesh worked as a legal assistant at the ACLU’s National Security Project, assisting attorneys on casework that included efforts to defend indefinitely detained prisoners, increase transparency in regards to the U.S. drone program, and end discriminatory policies that target Muslim Americans. Dinesh later returned to North Carolina to work with the Carolina College Advising Corps, a non-profit that places AmeriCorps-funded advisers at high schools throughout North Carolina to promote a college-going culture among low-income students of color who are underrepresented in higher education. Dinesh looks forward to the opportunity to learn more about effective advocacy, and hopes to use his law degree to promote justice through work with immigrant communities.  

Clarence Okoh

LINDEMANN FAMILY PUBLIC SERVICE SCHOLAR

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Clarence believes in leveraging the voices of marginalized communities to drive progressive social change. Most recently, Clarence worked as a research assistant at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) on their Youth Policy Team. While at CLASP, Clarence played an active role in developing the team’s Realizing Youth Justice advocacy framework that views strengthened public investments in workforce, education, and healthcare as an anti-incarceration strategy that supports youth across the spectrum of justice involvement, including diversion and successful re-entry. Prior to CLASP Clarence served as an AmeriCorps volunteer with Impact Alabama, where he worked in low-income communities and communities of color throughout the South designing and leading service projects that filled in gaps in financial, educational and health related services. Clarence received his undergraduate degree in political science with a minor in human rights from the University of Chicago. While there, he was actively involved in efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion on campus primarily through his role as President of the Organization of Black Students.  Clarence is excited to join the Root-Tilden-Kern community and to explore the role of legal advocacy in supporting movements that seek to achieve social, economic and political liberation from oppressive systems.

Samantha Osaki

FILOMEN M. D’AGOSTINO SCHOLAR FOR WOMEN And CHILDREN

A Los Angeles County native and proud Filipina-Japanese American, Samantha graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and with a Civic Scholar distinction from the University of Pennsylvania. She is committed to partnering with communities to collaboratively tackle pressing social and environmental justice issues.

At Penn, Samantha devoted her time to advocating for educational equity and women’s rights as the President of Penn Education Society and Vice President of Seneca International, respectively. Upon graduating, she accepted a Fulbright U.S. Student Award to teach at an all-girls public school in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. While there, Samantha partnered with graduate students at the Université Felix-Boigny to host open dialogues on topics ranging from economic inequality to feminism, ultimately receiving a “Peace Ambassador” distinction by the school’s Leadership Initiative Board for her work. After returning to the U.S., Samantha worked first for a progressive California congressman, then joined the development team at LIFT, a national nonprofit that connects parents of young children with the wraparound supports and asset-building opportunities they need to break the cycle of poverty for their families. Samantha looks forward to leveraging the law to fight for a more level playing field for all children. 

Jennifer Pierre

FILOMEN M. D’AGOSTINO SCHOLAR FOR WOMEN OR CHILDREN

Jennifer was born and raised in Boston by Haitian parents. She graduated cum laude from Bryn Mawr College in 2011 with a degree in Political Science. While at Bryn Mawr, she interned with the United States Mission to the United Nations and was selected as a Princeton University Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow, where she co-wrote a 50-page policy recommendation. After college, Jennifer worked at Human Rights Watch as a Senior Associate, assisting in research and advocacy efforts focusing on the rights of women and children with disabilities, and the right to health for sex workers, among other issues. For the past two years, Jennifer worked in Haiti designing and facilitating seminars for university students that emphasized civic duty, community development, and social change. She also created a women’s empowerment program in Haiti, where participants received mentoring from women professionals and attended workshops focused on leadership development.

At NYU, Jennifer will further explore her interests in international development, law, and human rights. 

Carley Russell

Coben Scholar

Carley Russell is from Louisville, Kentucky. In high school, she was mentored by Anne Braden, a white anti-racist activist who encouraged her to join a local organizing campaign against police brutality and eventually to serve as a board member of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2013 with a degree in American Studies. During her college years, Carley interned with Julian Bond and the North Carolina NAACP, where she conducted research on voter disenfranchisement and co-authored a voting rights resolution that was debated at the organization’s centennial convention. She also spent a summer at the UC Hastings Center for Gender and Refugee Studies compiling country conditions reports on gender-based violence in Central America and Africa. After college, she worked for several years as a labor organizer for SEIU. In this role, she assisted non-tenure track faculty in their efforts to form unions, negotiate collective bargaining agreements, and raise standards for contingent faculty across the greater Boston area. She is looking forward to developing the skills to become a public interest lawyer so that she can practice law in the tradition of Gerald López’s conception of rebellious lawyering.

Marlena Santos

FILOMEN M. D’AGOSTINO SCHOLAR FOR WOMEN And CHILDREN

Marlena was born and raised in Western New York. She graduated from Vassar College in 2014 with a major in Philosophy and a minor in Hispanic Studies. After college, Marlena worked as a paralegal in the Early Case Assessment Bureau at the New York County District Attorney’s Office. In January 2016, Marlena left the DA’s Office to work as a paralegal for the New York Legal Assistance Group’s Disability Advocacy Project. There, Marlena advocated for low-income, disabled New Yorkers who had been denied Social Security disability benefits by representing clients in disability appeal hearings and by providing advice, assistance, and representation in benefit terminations and overpayments. Marlena is passionate about continuing to work in disability advocacy, with a focus on mental health issues. She is also interested in racial and socioeconomic justice and the intersections between criminal, civil, and administrative law.  

Priya Sreenivasan

Andrew W. Mellon Scholar

Priya graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2015. While in college, Priya was challenged to think critically about service through volunteering with the APPLES Service-­‐Learning program and the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF).  By continuing to engage with the Chapel Hill and Durham communities after college, Priya has developed a passion for a relationship-­‐based approach to social change. Throughout the next three years at NYU Law, Priya is looking forward to learning how to use law to alter patterns of exclusion, alongside a community of engaged students, professors, and organizers.