Class of 2016
Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Juan graduated from Yale University in 2012 with a BA in History. During his undergraduate career Juan discovered his passion social justice. He began working with the Latino community in New Haven through Junta for Progressive Action. As the political action chair for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlan, he organized students on projects to expand bilingual resources in public schools and a municipal identification card program. In 2010, Juan worked with students from around the state of Connecticut to form a statewide network of students and advocates of immigration reform. This organization would become Connecticut Students for a DREAM and would promote increased access to education for immigrant students by hosting college access workshops and campaigning for the state and federal versions of the immigration reform.
Following graduation, Juan continued his development as an immigrants’ rights activist during his year in Mexico on a Fox International Fellowship. His research into the international political ramifications of US immigration policy will inform his future career as an immigrant’s rights lawyer. His experience as an advocate has inspired him to view law as a powerful resource for defending the rights of marginalized communities.
A native Californian, Aimee grew up in Los Angeles and has lived in Elk Grove, Davis, and Oakland. Aimee graduated with highest honors from the University of California, Davis in 2010, completing her BA in Linguistics and Spanish with minors in Japanese and Middle East/South Asia Studies. Aimee wrote an honors thesis and received a Department Citation for Outstanding Performance in Linguistics, the Leslie Campbell Award for Outstanding Senior, and the “Gold” Community Service Award. She worked in the California Assembly’s Chief Clerk’s Office and as a Jesse Unruh Assembly Fellow before exploring policy advocacy a nonprofit law firm.
Aimee’s greatest passion is community empowerment: in college, she tutored low-income students and volunteered as a peer educator and president of Students Against Sexual Violence. Currently, she volunteers with Women Escaping a Violent Environment and serves on the board of African Queens Dance Company. All of these experiences, combined with her proficiency in Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, French, and Louisiana Creole, have inspired in Aimee a desire to utilize legal advocacy strategies to strengthen community voices and support self-empowerment. Aimee will use her JD to build on her family’s legacy of participating in civic activism as a means of eliminating oppression.
Sinsheimer Service Scholar
Annie graduated with distinction from Yale University in 2009 with a degree in Political Science. During college, she served as managing editor of the undergraduate international affairs magazine, the Yale Globalist, and worked in the Ugandan Parliament. She has spent the last four years as a high school English teacher.
Annie joined Teach for America after graduation and taught literature at a high school in West Helena, Arkansas, a small town in the Mississippi Delta. In her second year, she served as a learning team leader for first-year TFA English teachers. When she returned to the Northeast, she joined the staff of Newark Collegiate Academy, the KIPP high school in Newark, NJ, where she helped lead the school’s new writing initiative and coached first-year writing teachers. At NCA, she also coached the cross-country team to – well, not victory, but at least some smiles.
Annie is from Pennington, New Jersey. She plans to use her law degree to ensure that students and their families have access to civil legal representation, so that they can take full advantage of their educational opportunities.
T. Patrick Córdova
Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Hailing from Winter Park, Florida, Patrick Cordova is a committed and dedicated public servant. As an undergraduate at Stanford University, Patrick became a strong voice for mental and emotional wellness as the live-in director of the Bridge Peer Counseling Center, and as the Undergraduate Senate Deputy Chair. Upon graduating, Stanford recognized his efforts by awarding him the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel and J.E. Wallace Sterling prizes.
Before law school, Patrick worked for four years as a national political fundraiser. As finance director to Steve Pougnet for Congress, and Gary Schiff for Mayor of Minneapolis, and as the Midwest fundraiser for the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Patrick helped generate the necessary resources for LGBT candidates to win.
Patrick came to NYU Law, and the Root-Tilden-Kern program in particular, with the goal of becoming a government lawyer. In the summer after his 1L year Patrick interned at the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and in his 2L year became an Articles Editor of the Annual Survey of American Law, a Fellow of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law, and a Florence Allen Scholar. In the fall of his 3L year, he is interning at the Department of the Treasury as part of NYU Law’s Legislative and Regulatory Process Clinic. He will be clerking for the Honorable Naomi Reice Buchwald in the Southern District of New York.
Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar
Michael grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island, and is interested in issues of public policy, health care, and community development. Michael graduated from Brown University in 2011 with a degree in Public Policy. While at Brown, he first began to work on improving access to comprehensive health care with the organization Health Leads, which works with families in urban hospitals to address non-medical issues contributing to poor health. This experience set him on the path of working in community-oriented advocacy for improved health care access. After law school, he hopes to work to improve the complex health care system through direct representation, impact litigation, and policy advocacy.
Since graduation, he has continued to focus on health policy as a paralegal with the litigation department of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. At PPFA, Michael worked primarily on patient access issues arising from state-level health regulations and government funding programs. This work was complemented by continued volunteering in the community, both in the legal services department of Whitman-Walker Health, an HIV/AIDS clinic, and with Court-Appointed Special Advocates for Children of DC, as an advocate representing the interests of a youth in the family court system.
Andrew W. Mellon Scholar
Olivia is a native Californian, hailing from Woodland, but after five years on the East Coast is slowly becoming converted. Olivia graduated with High Honors from Swarthmore College in 2012 with a major in Political Science and a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. Interested in the relationship between these two fields, Olivia completed her honors thesis on the origin and evolution of Peace and Conflict Studies and Security Studies. At Swarthmore, Olivia took on a number of leadership positions, including Co-President of the Student Council. Throughout college, Olivia was involved in a range of advocacy groups as well as mentoring programs for local middle school and high school students. Over the course of her undergraduate career, Olivia held a number of internships at nonprofit organizations including the Center for Progressive Leadership and the Center for American Progress. She hopes to focus on International Human Rights Law while at NYU.
Following graduation, Olivia spent a year as a Program Assistant with the Quaker United Nations Office in New York City. There she focused on the peace-building actions and architecture of the United Nations, as well as on the process surrounding the creation of the Post 2015 Development Agenda.
Akiva is fascinated by the fundamental problem posed by the world's deteriorating environment and the impacts of impaired or destroyed ecosystems on human society. Born and raised in New York City, Akiva would seem an unlikely advocate for effective natural resource management and environmental equity. He traces his interest to an undergraduate taxonomy course where he first learned about the threats to nature that can, in turn, harm people.
During his first year in law school, Akiva co-chaired the annual day-long environmental law symposium, which drew over 300 participants, and flew to Bogota, Colombia to help coordinate a conference on environmental law and regulation in Latin America. He also co-authored a chapter on the role of land reform efforts after armed conflict with a visiting professor, which was published in a book on the economic aspects of transitional justice. That summer, he worked for the Liberian Environmental Protection Agency on reforms to the country’s environmental impact assessment regime, a national oil spill contingency plan, and decision-making and compliance around environmental permits. Akiva continued to work on environmental challenges in Liberia as a 2L, writing a comparative analysis of Liberian and Brazilian forestry law to inform the drafting of a regulation to fill a gap in Liberia’s private forest governance scheme. Over his 2L summer, Akiva worked in Indonesia at the Center for International Forestry Research, examining the impacts of European illegal logging regulations on the Indonesian timber trade, and exploring potential conflicts between trade restrictions on illegal timber and WTO treaty law.
Akiva is completing the final year of his J.D. this year, after a two-year hiatus to pursue a Masters of Forestry at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. At Yale, he undertook coursework in forest science and management to better enable him to design effective natural resource governance mechanisms. Simultaneously with his coursework, he helped facilitate cross-sectoral dialogues on corporate deforestation policies through The Forests Dialogue, worked for International Paper on supply chain risk analysis, and helped managed Yale’s forestland holdings.
Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
Prior to coming to NYU Law, Leo served as a grievance representative at Service Employees International Union Local 615 in Boston, handling worker grievances and and later, as deputy director, helping to oversee contract enforcement for 15,000 janitors and security guards across New England’s commercial office buildings, malls, and universities. Before that he worked as a case manager in a prisoner reentry program, helping people returning home from prison find housing and employment.
Leo sees economic inequality and poor working conditions as barriers to democratic participation and full citizenship rights. After law school, he wants to help build the labor movement by promoting community organizing that empowers workers to take on various forms of injustice in their communities. He is dedicated to working to build a labor movement that is inclusive and equipped to tackle the challenges of the 21st century economy.
Leo received a Peggy Browning Fellowship to spend his 1L summer in the United Steelworkers' General Counsel's office in Pittsburgh and then spent his second summer as a law clerk at the Service Employees International Union in Washington D.C. Leo serves as a board member of the Law Students for Economic Justice and is a member of the New York City National Lawyers Guild chapter's Labor and Employment Committee. He attended the University of Chicago and majored in Anthropology. He was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and immigrated with his family to the United States when he was three years old.
William and Mary Sterling Scholar
Motivated by community-based theories of lawyering, Claire believes lawyers should be on tap, not on top. She is dedicated to a career in litigation and advocacy work that is driven, informed, and supported by community organizing. She plans to use her law degree to serve low-income communities and communities of color that disparately face civil rights abuses - from environmental injustice and associated health impacts to policing and structural violence. Claire is grateful for the opportunities she has had at NYU to gain litigation skills, work with underserved communities, and participate in social justice advocacy.
Prior to law school, Claire worked for the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM). As Special Projects Coordinator, she managed program development, community projects, and advocacy for three statewide initiatives - the Microenterprise Network of Michigan, Michigan Rural Council, and Michigan Vacant Property Campaign. At CEDAM, Claire built the Microenterprise Network from forty to over 150 members, launched a project to assist rural communities with technology education, and led coalitions to help communities across the state address vacant and dilapidated properties, failing infrastructure, and falling tax revenues in the wake of the recession.
Claire graduated first in her class from Michigan State University in 2011, with a B.A. in Social Relations and Policy from James Madison College and a B.M. in Piano Performance from the College of Music. She has received numerous awards for her social justice research and advocacy, including the Regional Economic Innovation Center Author Award, Gillette Fellowship, Michael G. Schechter All-University Endowed Award, and MLK Advancing Inclusion through Research Award.
Claire grew up in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, and graduated from Simley Senior High School. She is proud of her Midwestern roots, and hopes to return to serve communities in the Great Lakes Region facing civil rights and environmental justice harms.
Katie began her work in the immigrant rights field over a decade ago and remains a committed advocate for immigrant communities and especially for those caught up in the deportation system. At NYU, Katie is a Student Advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic and a board member of the Immigrant Rights Project and Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). As a 1L, she participated in the inaugural Alternative Winter Break trip to explore immigration issues on the Arizona-Mexico border, and that spring, she traveled to Jordan with IRAP to learn more about the plight of refugees in the Middle East. Katie also completed a "term-time" internship at The Door during her first year, where she worked with immigrant youth who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected.
Katie spent her 1L summer as a Ford Foundation Fellow at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. She will intern with the Bronx Defenders Immigration Unit during her 2L summer.
Immediately prior to law school, Katie spent over four years as a paralegal at the San Francisco immigration firm Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, where she specialized in deportation defense, bond proceedings, asylum, family-based immigration, and cases involving victims of domestic violence and other crimes. She began her career in immigration law with the Immigration Practice Group of Duane Morris LLP and later interned at La Fundación Comisión Católica Argentina de Migraciones, an NGO that provides legal and social services to asylum applicants in Buenos Aires. Katie is fluent in Spanish.
A native of Newton, Massachusetts, Katie graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University in 2004. When she was just ten years old, she published an award-winning children’s book about a young immigrant’s journey to America, titled "Home is Where Your Family Is."
Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
Tiffany graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a M.S. in Earth Systems and a B.S. in Biology. Tiffany was born in Texas and grew up in Houston, Taipei, and Plano. Following law school, she hopes to work on crimes against women, such as domestic violence and human trafficking. She spent her 1L summer interning at a women's legal aid NGO in Beijing, China. During her 2L year, she volunteered as a legal intern with the New York Asian Women's Center assisting human trafficking and domestic violence survivors with immigration relief. She spent her 2L summer at the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, arguing preliminary hearings, writing motions, and conducting research for domestic violence cases. Prior to law school, she was a volunteer mediator with the Santa Clara County Dispute Resolution Program, an environmental consultant, and a co-director of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in East Palo Alto.
Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Steve grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and graduated from Princeton University in 2010 with an undergraduate degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. At Princeton, Steve served as the Chair of the Pace Council for Civil Values, a committee dedicated to improving civic engagement on campus.
Following graduation, Steve worked as the Charles W. Puttkammer Fellow for Prisoner Reentry at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, in Newark. At NJISJ, Steve worked directly with individuals returning home from prison, including helping to secure a gubernatorial pardon for a client, and drafted state-level legislation relating to criminal histories. After completing his fellowship, Steve worked as a paralegal in the Appeals Bureau at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where he wrote and submitted briefs to the New York Appellate Division.
At NYU, Steve is a student advocate with the Suspension Representation Project, a Fellow with the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law, a research assistant for Professors Barry Friedman and Rachel Barkow, and Articles Editor on the Law Review. Through the Racial Justice Clinic, Steve worked at the ACLU's Racial Justice Program. Steve spent his 1L summer at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and his 2L summer at the Federal Defenders of New York. He is committed to indigent defense, and plans to dedicate his career working to reduce racial inequalities in the criminal justice system.
Amelia is a dedicated immigrant rights advocate. At NYU, she is a Student Advocate in the Advanced Immigrant Rights Clinic, which focuses on representing non-citizens facing deportation. During her 2L year, Amelia was on the boards of the Immigrant Rights Project, as well as the Suspension Representation Project, where she represented public school students at suspension hearings and did client intakes for Spanish-speaking families. Amelia spent her 1L summer at the Immigration Unit of Brooklyn Defender Services, where she worked on cases from the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project. During her 2L summer at the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center, she worked with low-income immigrant New Yorkers on wage and hour claims as well as employment abuse-based immigration applications.
Prior to law school, Amelia spent two years advocating for migrant farmworkers at Philadelphia Legal Assistance, and three years representing subsidized housing tenants at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia as a paralegal. In 2011, Amelia co-chaired and helped start the U Visa Project of the National Lawyers Guild, Philadelphia Chapter.
Amelia is fluent in Spanish, and mostly fluent in Portuguese. She was born and raised in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008.
Brian aspires to a career in indigent criminal defense and criminal justice reform. A 2009 graduate of Grinnell College with honors in Biology, Brian was awarded the President’s Medal for superior scholarship and leadership. Prior to law school, Brian worked for three years as a community organizer on coal pollution issues with Prairie Rivers Network, an Illinois not-for-profit river conservation and advocacy organization. At Prairie Rivers Network, he worked on several campaigns opposing coal mines & coal-fired power plants, fought for tighter regulation and oversight of coal ash dumps in low-income and minority communities, and helped build a regional collaboration of community and advocacy groups working to advance a just and sustainable transition to a clean energy future in the Midwest.
As a 1L, Brian became engaged in criminal justice and prisoner's rights issues as a member of the Prisoner's Rights & Education Project. During his 1L summer, Brian interned with the Federal Defenders of New York in the Eastern District of New York where he assisted with the defense of indigent clients charged with federal crimes. In addition to researching and drafting motions, briefs & sentencing letters, Brian worked on the trial team defending a multi-count drug trafficking indictment. He also directly represented misdemeanor clients in negotiations with federal agencies, resulting in several dismissals.
As a 2L, Brian has further developed his written and oral advocacy skills through NYU's Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic and his associated fieldwork at Brooklyn Defender Services. At BDS, Brian has gained oral advocacy experience at arraignments, and drafted pre-trial motions and letters on a wide range of criminal matters in state court. In addition, he is a staff editor on the Review of Law & Social Change. This summer, Brian will intern at The Defender Association in Seattle, Washington, where he looks forward gaining experience directly representing misdemeanor clients.
Brian was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Meghna was born in India, and raised in New Jersey. She graduated from Brown University in 2011, with a BA in International Relations. Meghna first gained experience organizing around issues of economic justice and criminal justice reform while advocating for the rights of homeless and low-income communities in Rhode Island. Prior to law school, Meghna worked as a Research Associate at the Brennan Center for Justice, where she helped lead the Center’s work against the rise of new debtor’s prisons, and worked on projects related to sentencing policy, foreclosure reform, and the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. She came to law school to use legal advocacy to fight for the rights of economically and socially marginalized communities.
During her 1L summer, Meghna interned with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, working on Adkins v. Morgan Stanley, a lawsuit on behalf of African-American homeowners in Detroit who were targeted by predatory lending practices. As a 2L, she worked on a false arrest and false imprisonment claim as a student advocate with the New York Civil Liberties Clinic. She is a fellow with the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law, through which worked on a clemency petition for a client serving a life sentence in federal prison for a non-violent drug offense. She is also a Case Manager with the Suspension Representation Project, and an Articles Selection Editor on NYU’s Review of Law and Social Change. Meghna split her 2L summer between the Bronx Defenders’ Civil Action Practice, where she represented clients facing enmeshed civil penalties related to their involvement with the criminal justice system; and Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll, where she participated in plaintiffs’ side litigation related to employment, consumer protection, and human rights
Starr Foundation Scholar
Alexis interned his first summer at MALDEF in Los Angeles and spent his second summer interning at the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights in Washington, D.C., and the ACLU of Southern California in Los Angeles. He attended Claremont McKenna College in Southern California, grew up in Maryland, and was born in North Carolina.
Chelsea graduated summa cum laude from UCLA in 2008, with a BA in English and Political Science. At UCLA, Chelsea served on the Undergraduate Students Association Council and Project Literacy.
Chelsea worked for four years at the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Boston, Johannesburg, and New York City. She has worked with governments, donors, regulators, pharmaceutical companies, and other manufacturers to increase access to health commodities in resource-poor markets. In South Africa, she managed a team within the National Department of Health to implement a set of policies aimed at increasing access to HIV/AIDS services throughout the country. Most recently, she worked on pricing and procurement deals for vaccines and helped to structure market interventions that de-risk supply and facilitate new supplier entry in developing-country vaccine markets.
Chelsea was born and raised in the Los Angeles area and has lived in New York City for two years.
Pooja hopes to use her law degree to promote economic opportunity for low-income and minority communities. She is particularly interested in expanding access—and eliminating discriminatory barriers—to good jobs, housing, and transportation.
Pooja has spent her time at NYU exploring different approaches to systemic change, including community lawyering, policy advocacy, and impact litigation. She interned in the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund's Political Participation and Economic Justice practice groups during her 1L summer, and she was at the Center for Popular Democracy as a Ford Foundation Fellow for her 2L summer. Pooja also interned with the ACLU's Racial Justice Program and the Urban Justice Center's Community Development Project through NYU's clinical programs. On campus, she has served as co-chair of both the Public Interest Law Student Association and Law Students for Economic Justice, in addition to being an articles editor on Law Review.
Before law school, Pooja worked as a paralegal at Ritz Clark & Ben-Asher LLP, a plaintiff-side employment law firm in New York City. She provided support for employment discrimination and wrongful termination cases, among others, during her year there.
Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar
Matthew grew up in Sturgis, South Dakota. He is looking forward to living in New York City to get his legal education before returning to his native state to fight for his policy goals. Matthew graduated from the University of South Dakota in 2011 with a degree in economics and political science. A member of the Army National Guard, his belief in public service led him to apply for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, becoming South Dakota’s recipient in 2010.
After graduating, Matthew took a job with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission as a utility analyst. There he worked primarily on rate increase filings made by the investor owned utility companies in the state, striving to keep electric rates as low as possible while ensuring South Dakota ratepayers received safe, adequate, and reliable service. He views the law as an essential tool in addressing some of the stark challenges faced by South Dakotans, particularly on the Native American reservations. Blending law and smart public policy, Matthew hopes to effect changes in the criminal justice system to craft a smarter and more rehabilitative institution.
Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
Ke was born in Wuhan, China and raised in Tucson, Arizona. A graduate of University High School, she has been deeply influenced by the liberating potential of a progressive public education. While studying biochemistry as a Flinn Scholar at Arizona State University, Ke travelled around the world investigating education initiatives on a Circumnavigators Club Foundation Grant. This research inspired her to deepen her understanding of issues in domestic education, leading her to join Teach For America after graduating in 2010.
As a chemistry teacher at John C. Fremont High School in South Los Angeles, she witnessed how school reconstitution, followed by large budget cuts, left students disillusioned with schooling. In response, she engaged students in discussions about the role of social inequity in education. These discussions shaped her role as the Academic Decathlon coach, through which she witnessed the transformation of her decathletes into social justice advocates. These experiences, along with the prolific encouragement of her students, led her to pursue an MPhil in Education on a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and now, a law degree. With a legal background, she hopes to improve the capabilities of all children, starting with the right to equal access to education opportunities.
Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar
Dian graduated with honors from Harvard University in 2011 with a degree in History and Literature. During college, Dian was involved with the Harvard Phillips Brooks House Association as a leader of the Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment Program. Dian also served as a Regional Representative for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program/Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund in the greater Boston and Philadelphia areas.
Following graduation, Dian served as a Harvard Center of Public Interest Careers Fellow in New York City and helped launch an international grant-making venture philanthropy foundation. Consequently, Dian worked for EKO Asset Management Partners, an investment and advisory firm specializing in environmental markets and natural infrastructure. Dian helped manage the origination pipeline for EKO’s Green Carbon Fund and analyzed emerging natural resource related markets.
Dian worked for Acumen Fund in Nairobi, Kenya, helping to build financially sustainable organizations that deliver affordable goods and services that improve the lives of the poor. She conducted early-stage sector mappings of education investment opportunities for Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda.
Dian was born in Beijing, China and grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After law school, she hopes to advance her interest in law and social innovation.
Class of 2017
Jean-Luc Adrien | Sinsheimer Service Scholar
Jean-Luc was born in Haiti and moved to south Florida when he was eleven years old. In 2012, Jean-Luc graduated from the University of Florida with a double major in Political Science and Anthropology, coupled with a minor in Spanish. As a graduating senior, he was inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame.
At the University of Florida, Jean-Luc’s interests included community empowerment, mentorship, and education. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Jean-Luc co-founded and served as Treasurer to Gators United for Haiti, an organization that fundraised to address relief efforts in Haiti. As a recipient of the University of Florida African American Studies Program Excellence Award, and troubled by the overrepresentation of people of color as offenders in the criminal justice system, he interned at the Gainesville Public Defender’s Office. There, Jean-Luc witnessed firsthand the devastating effects that a lack of educational opportunities had on a segment of Gainesville’s youth. This realization led to his desire to mentor at-risk students and served as the inspiration for his senior thesis concerning the effects of the New Orleans charter school movement on African American students’ educational achievement.
After college, Jean-Luc joined Teach for America and taught high school Spanish in Dumas, Arkansas, a small town in the Mississippi Delta. At Dumas High School, he founded the Dumas Knights, a mentorship group which provided ACT tutoring, community service opportunities, and college visits to 11th and 12th grade boys. He also specialized as the kicking coach and assisted in coaching the defensive line for the football team.
After his first year of teaching, Jean-Luc completed a fellowship with the Mississippi Center for Justice’s Education Division. As a fellow, he presented advocacy options to parents whose children had been unfairly disciplined by their schools. He also led a community workshop to update parents and educators on new educational laws that were passed in the Mississippi legislature. As an attorney, Jean-Luc will work to provide civil legal services to those who cannot otherwise afford them.
Zawadi Baharanyi | Starr Foundation Scholar
Zawadi is a native of Auburn, Alabama, with paternal roots in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She attended Columbia University intending to focus on human rights issues in sub-Saharan Africa, but after interning at the Orleans Public Defender’s office and later Common Justice, a New York- based alternative to incarceration and restorative justice program, she felt compelled to shift her focus to the rampant human rights violations occurring within the United States criminal justice system.
After graduating magna cum laude from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in political science, she returned to her home state to work on sentencing and prison reform issues as a post-undergraduate fellow with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) of Alabama, an indigent defense organization based in Montgomery, AL. During her three years at EJI, Zawadi investigated officer-on-inmate violence in Alabama’s prisons, helped formerly incarcerated clients transition to life outside of prison, and bolstered EJI’s public education work around mass incarceration and its historical antecedents.
After law school, Zawadi hopes to strengthen protections for the incarcerated and challenge the various legal barriers to successful re-entry for the formerly incarcerated.
Hugh Baran | Coben Scholar
Before coming to NYU, Hugh spent four years as a community and political organizer in Connecticut and Rhode Island, working with UNITE HERE Locals 34, 35 & 217 to train emerging community leaders, build broad student/labor/community coalitions, and ultimately win sweeping political changes in the City of New Haven. He then spent a year at BerlinRosen Public Affairs, coordinating media outreach for a variety of organizations – most notably on behalf of the New York branch of the Fight for 15, which recently secured a $15/hr minimum wage for 160,000+ fast food workers, and Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
Hugh spent his 1L summer at the National Employment Law Project, conducting research, drafting legislation and providing other technical assistance to support advocates for low-wage workers in their campaigns around the country to combat wage theft and pass higher minimum labor standards. On campus, he serves as co-chair of the Public Interest Law Students Association, social co-chair of OUTLaw, and as a board member of Law Students for Economic Justice.
Jahnavi Bhaskar | Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Jahnavi was raised in Maryland by parents who immigrated from India. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2010 with an honors degree in mathematics. While there, Jahnavi co-led a student group, the Chicago Justice Initiative, and with that organization began a tutoring program for formerly incarcerated men and women working towards their high school diplomas on Chicago's West Side.
After college, Jahnavi worked as an investigator at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) for four years. She found and interviewed witnesses, assisted in trial preparation, and testified in court in all levels of criminal cases, both juvenile and adult, from misdemeanor to first-degree murder. Jahnavi saw massive injustice in the criminal legal system during her time at PDS. But she also bore witness to the inspiring resilience and unstoppable life-force of the clients, families, and communities being targeted by that system, and was honored to join in their resistance. Jahnavi will use her legal training to stand in the way of systems that marginalize, dehumanize, and terrorize poor people of color, whether that be incarceration, deportation, or mental institutionalization. She intends to practice as a public defender.
Eboni Blenman | WilmerHale Scholar
Eboni was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and attended Howard University in Washington, DC. At Howard, she majored in Spanish and Political Science and graduated with honors.
Throughout college, Eboni worked as a clerk at the Department of Justice, Civil Division. This opportunity peaked her interest in the legal field, but her volunteer experience would help Eboni develop a passion for public service. As an Intake Volunteer at the Visitors’ Services Center (now Voices for a Second Chance), Eboni helped inmates and former offenders obtain social services, apply for jobs and reconnect with estranged family members. Eboni also served as a Volunteer Resident Assistant at N Street Village, a shelter for indigent females. These volunteer experiences left Eboni wondering what might be the best solution to the ongoing cycle of incarceration and homelessness. She believed the answer might be a solid education.
After college, Eboni joined Teach for America and taught in Newark, NJ. There she started Girls with Goals (GWG), a school-based group to help young girls develop their self-esteem and professional goals. Eboni is excited to return to New York to complete law school. At NYU she hopes to further explore the intersection between the education and criminal justice systems.
Viviana Bonilla López | William and Mary Sterling Scholar
Viviana is a San Juan, Puerto Rico native focused on mental health and disability justice. She is interested in how better policies can provide people with mental illnesses greater access to resources and how the law can ensure the protection of their rights and autonomy. In particular, Viviana is concerned with intersectionality and how people with mental illnesses who belong to other marginalized groups, such as people of color, are impacted by their various identities.
In 2014, she graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, earning a BA in journalism with a minor in entrepreneurship. As an undergraduate, Viviana was certified as an Online Counseling and Suicide Intervention Specialist and worked in the mental health system as a volunteer, intern, and research assistant. In 2011, she co-founded Rethink: Psychiatric Illness, a student organization aimed at raising awareness about mental illnesses and increasing help-seeking behaviors among students. In this role, she spearheaded the creation of the university’s first-ever mental health advocacy training, which has attracted over 600 students and earned the organization the 2012 Diversity Award. In the journalism field, she has experience as a writer, photographer, videographer, researcher, translator, and editor. Her storytelling focused on health issues and the experiences of people with disabilities.
During her 1L year, Viviana continued to focus on mental health, presenting on her work with Rethink at USC Gould School of Law’s Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics’ Spring Symposium. The following summer, Viviana interned at MFY Legal Services’ Mental Health Law Project, aiding low income clients with mental illnesses in accessing and securing housing and government benefits.
Viviana currently serves as a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Young Adult Advisory Group and the STAR Center’s National Advisory Caucus, Co-Chair of NYU Law’s Mental Health Law and Justice Association, All-ALSA Representative on the student-faculty Diversity Working Group, and Co-Leader of NYU Law’s Coalition on Law and Representation (CoLR). During her 2L year, she is interning at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest as a Schulte Roth & Zabel Fellow working at the intersection of immigration and health justice.
Mitchell Brown | Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar
Mitchell Brown was born in Fredericksburg, VA and he is a second year law student at New York University School of Law. Mitchell serves as the President of the Black Allied Law Students Association (BALSA), and is a staff editor for the Review of Law and Social Change. Mitchell is a 2012 graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, earning a Bachelors of Science in Business Economics and a Minor in Philosophy. Mitchell interned with Common Cause-North Carolina during college, registering students and members of the community to vote. As a Common Cause intern, he helped to promote the collegiate voice in the fight against the 2011 Voter ID Bill in North Carolina. It was during this struggle that he recognized his call to enter the legal profession. As an attorney, he intends to fight injustices in our legal system that are still being perpetrated against many sectors of our society. Mitchell is very passionate about this pursuit, because “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. His passion continues forth as he worked at the Brennan Center For Justice in the summer of 2015, working on voting rights, fair courts, and money and politics.
Mitchell served as a 2012 Teach For America Corps Member, teaching 8th grade special education at KIPP Central City Academy in inner city New Orleans, LA. Mitchell’s inspiration for entering the legal field originates from a biblical and community standpoint. He believes that he has been called to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, to defend the defenseless, and to empower those who feel powerless. Mitchell will strive to do this by working as a legal advocate in the civil rights arena, aiming to ensure that the United States lives up to its promises made in our Constitution.
Mitchell’s favorite quote is: “If purpose is present, then nothing can stop the determined individual from his/her rendezvous with destiny” (Anonymous).
Antonio Changanaqui | Andrew W. Mellon Scholar
Antonio graduated with honors from the College of William and Mary in 2011 with a degree in Sociology and Economics. Realizing his passion for social justice, Antonio was particularly alarmed by the unfair treatment experienced by indigent defendants in the criminal justice system, and the widely understood yet unaddressed systemic factors which cause it. This knowledge led Antonio to the DC Public Defender Service (PDS), where after college he completed an internship and fellowship before assuming the role of staff investigator.
At PDS, Antonio led investigations from the initial stages of an arraignment through the final stages of a jury trial for both juvenile and adult defendants. He also led investigations aimed towards gaining positive appellate results for defendants convicted at the trial level, including several individuals convicted of murder. In addition, Antonio was heavily relied upon to investigate the cases of Latino defendants who lacked English fluency. His experiences in this role made him critically aware of the severe cultural and linguistic barriers to fair treatment confronting Latino defendants, and the unsatisfied need for measures to erode these barriers.
During his two and a half years at PDS, Antonio worked alongside talented and dedicated public defenders on multiple felony cases that resulted in trial victory or dismissal. These outcomes reinforced Antonio's considerable trust in the power of passionate advocacy. Guided by this trust, he desires to use his legal degree in order to confront and undermine the entrenched obstacles faced by indigent defendants seeking fair representation in the criminal justice system.
Olivia Gibbons | Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children, and Families
Olivia is passionate about immigrant and refugee rights, in particular as they intersect with historically vulnerable groups such as women and children. A native of Seattle, she graduated with highest honors from the University Honors Program at Seattle University with a degree in Spanish and International Studies, with minors in Philosophy, Latin American Studies, and English. Olivia led a spring break immersion program for college students to better understand the realities of migrant workers and undocumented families in Washington’s rural Yakima Valley. While in college, she was able to pursue different internship opportunities, among them working as a legal intake counselor for the ACLU of Washington, as a legal assistant for the Defender’s Association, an organization that represents children and teenagers accused of crimes, and as a development intern for Washington New Americans, a nonprofit promoting immigrant integration and pathways to citizenship. She was also a campaign intern and later a constituent services intern for Washington’s Senator Maria Cantwell, managing the immigration and border protection caseload. While studying abroad in Puebla, Mexico, Olivia volunteered for a legal clinic serving indigenous women seeking legal counsel about intimate partner violence and other family issues.
After finishing her undergraduate degree, Olivia returned to Mexico to work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, where she taught classes to undergraduate and graduate students in English and intercultural studies at the University of Guadalajara. She also created a feminist workshop with a theoretical foundation and applied lessons on self-defense, sexual health, and relationship violence. As an attorney, she hopes to combine her commitment to immigrant communities with her passion for advocacy and furthering just protection and empowerment for women and their families.
Angela Groves | Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Angela, a proud native of Cleveland, Ohio, is driven by a passion for social justice. Angela graduated with honors from Princeton University with a BA in the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs and a Certificate in African American studies. Upon graduation, Angela received the Harold Willis Dodd Prize for clear thinking and moral courage. While at Princeton, Angela served in leadership positions in Class Government, the Black Student Union, the Princeton Association of Black Women, Community Action, and Mathey Residential College, among others. After studying abroad in South Africa, she co-founded the social enterprise Ubomi Beads, which aims to empower women in South Africa. Angela’s senior thesis evaluated the impact of the Promise Neighborhoods Initiative, a community-based approach to urban education reform, on social capital.
Motivated by the deep educational inequalities examined in her senior thesis, Angela spent the past two years teaching Social Studies at Miami Central High School in Miami, Florida as a Teach for America corps member. Following her service at Miami Central, Angela served as the Dean of Students at Aspire, an academic and leadership program for high-achieving girls with limited academic resources. Her experiences as an educator in underserved communities solidified both her belief in the power of communities and her desire to serve as a civil rights advocate. She will pursue a legal career in community-centered civil rights advocacy and impact litigation, specifically focusing on issues impacting marginalized youth.
Angela is currently serving a four-year term as a Trustee of Princeton University.
Ajani Husbands | Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Born in Houston, TX to Barbadian parents, Ajani Husbands is passionate about social justice in the United States and abroad. Ajani graduated in 2005 from Stanford University with a BA in International Relations and a Minor in African/African-American Studies. On campus, he held leadership positions in a variety of community organizations, revamped the Alpha Boys Club (his fraternity’s mentorship initiative for Black, middle-school males), and taught a public speaking course to graduate students. During his sophomore year, he co-founded Project W.R.I.T.E. (Writing and Reading as Integral Tools for Education), which continues to provide creative writing training for low-income high school students each summer. The program is now in its tenth year of existence.
Ajani is also a Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow and has served as a U.S. diplomat with the Department of State for seven years. During that time, he has worked in Eritrea, Haiti, Pakistan, and South Sudan. As a diplomat, Ajani focused on a range of projects including human rights reporting, using music as a vehicle to generate dialogue on women’s rights, incorporating social media into long-term messaging strategies, and promoting youth access to the arts. In his most recent assignment, Ajani served as the spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in South Sudan, where he led efforts to implement the Young African Leadership Initiative in the country. He also helped to evacuate over 1,200 American citizens and third country nationals from South Sudan during the onset of the December 2013 civil war, while simultaneously implementing a nine-day diplomatic strategy to promote peace amidst the civil unrest.
Ajani holds an MA in International Development from American University and completed his thesis on the impact of China on various measures of development in Africa. He hopes to combine his legal career with his passion for social justice and foreign policy background.
Oscar Londoño Jr. | Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Oscar is interested in how the community lawyering model can be used to support the movement-building efforts of community organizations and activists on issues related to racial/economic justice. Recognizing that "the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house," Oscar believes that legal strategies should be used to serve (not supersede) the strategic objectives of grassroots organizing, community education, and collective action.
After graduating summa cum laude from Cornell University with a B.A. in Sociology, Oscar worked in a number of public-interest organizations in Miami. In the Juvenile Direct File Unit of the Miami-Dade Public Defender's Office, he worked alongside public defenders to advocate against the practice of transferring juvenile defendants, some as young as fourteen years of age, into the County's adult court system. Following that experience, Oscar worked at a low-income public high school in South Miami Heights as an academic interventionist and mentor to at-risk students with City Year Miami.
He then worked as a community organizer with Public Allies Miami in the poverty-stricken neighborhood of Liberty City, where he worked with local residents and community-based organizations to develop and implement asset-based community development programs and initiatives. Most recently, Oscar worked as an Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for The Children's Movement of Florida, where he helped organize grassroots and grasstops campaigns aimed at passing state legislation around issues of early childhood education and universal health care access for children.
Kartik Sameer Madiraju | Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar
Kartik was born in Montreal, Canada. Since the age of 13, he has structured his pursuits around environmental justice. Kartik was trained as a chemical and Bioresource engineer at McGill University (BEng in 2012, and MSc in 2013) and has conducted research in renewable energy and wastewater treatment since 2004.
While at McGill, he engaged in a rigorous study and practice of environmental policy reform. In 2010 Kartik worked in India with Greenpeace in a campaign to improve nuclear safety laws, and later with renowned lawyer M.C. Mehta to successfully stay 300 hydroelectric dam projects along the Ganges, that had been approved without environmental impact assessments. Kartik’s work in India inspired him to pursue environmental law as a career.
For one year starting June 2013, Kartik served as the Insight Collaborative Fellow and trained in conflict management, principled negotiation and effective communication with the non-profit Insight Collaborative. He applied his skills with several environmental conservation groups around the world, including Navdanya in India, Palau Conservation Society in Palau, and Friends of the Earth Middle East in Israel, Jordan and Palestine.
Kartik hopes to use his legal education and his prior training to bring innovative reform to environmental regulations in North America, especially through the use of dispute resolution.
In his spare time, Kartik is a vocal environmental advocate, contributing to academic, creative and popular publications. Since 2008, after representing Canada at international science fairs, Kartik has been a member of Youth Science Canada and mentors high school students in their science projects. He is an avid badminton player and fan of the Montreal Canadiens.
A native of New York City (who is happy to return home), Jessica graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University in 2011 with a degree in history. At Yale, Jessica devoted herself to furthering women’s rights and reproductive justice. As Co-Director of Community Health Educators, she helped lead Yale’s largest student volunteer organization, which provides a comprehensive health curriculum to 2,000 students in New Haven public schools. She also led the Reproductive Rights Action League at Yale, a group dedicated to coordinating progressive political action. Her interest in law was sparked by her internship at the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project and her examination of the seminal sex discrimination case EEOC vs. Sears, Roebuck and Company, for which she was awarded Yale’s Steere Prize in Women’s Studies.
After college, Jessica was awarded a George Mitchell Scholarship for postgraduate study in Ireland, through which she pursued an MPhil in Gender and Women’s Studies at Trinity College Dublin. Jessica’s thesis research examined why Irish women politicians ran for office and their relationships to feminism. While working towards her MPhil, Jessica interned at the Irish Family Planning Association.
Following her year in Ireland, Jessica returned to the United States to continue advocating for reproductive justice. At the Center for Reproductive Rights in Washington DC, where she has spent the last year and a half, Jessica worked to help introduce and promote the Women’s Health Protection Act, a piece of legislation designed to end harmful state-level restrictions on abortion, and to broaden access to abortion coverage for Peace Corps Volunteers. After law school, she plans to continue her work in women's rights advocacy and hopes to use her law degree to effect broader policy changes.
Oluwadamilola (Dami) Obaro | Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar
Dami is very excited to begin her legal education at NYU. She first became interested in justice issues while volunteering as a medical advocate for rape survivors in Chicago. In addition to her work with rape survivors through the YWCA and the Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline, she also worked as a case manager for asylum seekers through the Heartland Alliance. Her frequent interactions with the legal system through these experiences kindled an interest in legal work, and so after graduating from the University of Chicago in 2012 she accepted a job as a legal advocate with the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) in San Francisco, where she has worked for the past two years. At HAP, she helped people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness apply for disability benefits, appeal parking ticket citations, and solve other various legal issues. She also assisted attorneys with their eviction defense cases. Cognizant that law and lawyers are only a part of the fight for social justice, she volunteered with the San Francisco Tenants Union and Causa Justa, two housing rights organizations that utilize many tools and strategies in addition to legal ones.
During her two years in the Bay Area, she lived in an intentional social justice community, which was a wonderful way to learn from others and live on a tiny budget. She hopes that the Root community will also be a space where she can be both challenged and heard by others. She intends to pursue a career in legal aid, and is looking forward to exploring her budget managing skills in the city with only the second highest rent in the country (the first would be San Francisco).
Astha Sharma Pokharel | Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
Astha is from Kathmandu, Nepal and grew up in Rome, Italy. She graduated from Durham University in 2012 with a degree in Politics. She is interested in civil rights, women’s rights, and international law. During and after law school Astha is interested in understanding how inequalities are maintained by legal systems and frameworks – national and international – and how this can be disrupted and reformed.
In 2012 Astha moved to Kathmandu to work at the Forum for Women, Law and Development. She started by doing research on the exclusion of historically marginalised groups in the constitution-drafting process in Nepal. She also did research on the implementation of legislation on human trafficking. She became increasingly convinced of the importance of complementing legal reforms with community mobilisation in order to effect transformative social change. She left FWLD and moved on to GalliGalli, an organisation working to improve citizens’ access to information on government services. At GalliGalli she focused on examining the structures of power within District Administrative Offices – local quasi-judicial bodies.
In Kathmandu, Astha has been involved in starting Chaukath, a network of feminists who engage critically with socio-economic, political and cultural issues in Nepal.
Narisa Silver | Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or 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.
A Chicago native, Kate graduated from Brown University in 2010, with a dual BA in History and Africana Studies. She completed her undergraduate honors thesis in Africana Studies, examining historical and modern forms of racial injustice, particularly those manifested in the criminal justice system. Her research, which included interviews with wrongfully and formerly incarcerated people and survivors of police torture in Chicago, sparked and deepened her interest in issues of incarceration and racial justice.
After college, Kate was an Emerson National Hunger Fellow, working on poverty-alleviation in both Minnesota and Washington, D.C. Kate’s experience culminated in her publishing a report on public defense systems and the intersection of poverty and mass incarceration. After the Fellowship, Kate joined Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a nonprofit sentencing reform organization in Washington, D.C. As FAMM’s case research director, Kate identified, investigated and wrote FAMM’s profiles – real stories of people and families impacted by harsh mandatory sentencing laws – for use in FAMM’s advocacy and public education efforts.
During her 1L summer, Kate interned at the Federal Defenders in Chicago. As a 2L, she is participating in the Equal Justice and Defender Clinic, working with a man on Alabama’s death row on his post-conviction challenge. Kate remains passionate about advocating for greater fairness and compassion in the justice system, and for those impacted by it, and plans to pursue a career in public defense after law school.
Erica grew up in Washington, DC, and is interested in issues involving the American criminal justice system, especially issues surrounding police accountability and the impact of reliance on private for profit prisons. Erica graduated from the University of Virginia in 2012, with a degree in Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law, and African and African American Studies. While there she focused her studies on the relationship and impact of the Criminal Justice System on communities of color.
Erica served as President of the University of Virginia's Chapter of the NAACP and under her leadership the organization raised issues with the University regarding the growing income disparity between the white and black community, as well as mass incarceration, and the disenfranchisement of African Americans because of the disproportionately high levels of incarceration in that community. For her efforts, she was awarded the 2012 Student Humanitarian Award. She was additionally awarded a Degree "With Distinction" for her thesis work examining the ways in which privatized prisons reinforce the mass incarceration of African-Americans.
After graduating from the University of Virginia, Erica served as a paralegal with the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affair where she was responsible for supporting attorneys challenging civil rights violations in the areas of Disability Rights, Fair Housing, and Police Misconduct. Consistent with her academic focus and her concern about police accountability, Erica was involved in initiatives such as DC Books to Prisons Project and CopWatch DC, an advocacy initiative focused on addressing concerns regarding racial profiling in the DC Metropolitan Area.
Class of 2018
Keith F. Barry
Keith is passionate about providing legal services to forgotten people - namely working people and the poor. 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. Following law school Keith hopes to work in public defense and to continue teaching.
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 S. 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 T. 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 H. 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 J. 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 and high- quality legal services. Angela graduated from the University of Chicago in 2011 with a degree in International Studies. While in school, Angela received the Gilman International Scholarship that allowed her to study abroad in Barcelona for one year. After graduating, Angela worked as a legal assistant at a mass tort litigation firm. Currently, Angela is a paralegal at the ACLU of Northern California in San Francisco, where she focuses on immigrants’ rights, racial justice, and education equity issues. In her spare time, Angela volunteers 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.
Danielle L. Greene | Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Danielle 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, Danielle 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, Danielle 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 Danielle worked at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) in the Family Law Unit. In conducting interviews and assessments with domestic violence victims, Danielle has seen that victims’ intertwined and complex needs are often inadequately addressed by the current legal remedies, which utilize punitive and discriminatory policies. Danielle’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, Danielle intends to build the skills needed to most effectively address the variety of issues faced by these marginalized populations.
Ilana R. 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 in New York City with AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. Through AVODAH, she was placed at Sanctuary for Families, a leading service provider for victims of human trafficking and gender-based violence. 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. After law school, Ilana hopes to continue supporting immigrant communities and addressing human rights abuses. As a result of her work at Sanctuary for Families, she is particularly interested in issues of access to public benefits, affordable housing and health care. Ilana hopes to address the systemic injustice to which her former clients are routinely subjected.
Daniel B. 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 J. 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.
Sharmeen E. 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.
Lindsey E. Smith | Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or 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 L. 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 A. 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 I. 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 S. 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, Tyler 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, Tyler 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, Tyler also worked at the national Peace Corps office as the Diversity Committee Training Coordinator. Through this position, Tyler was able to work with local Malawian staff members on issues of diversity. One special focus area that Tyler 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 Tyler's 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.
Pichaya P. Winichakul | Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
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 H. Winn | Starr Foundation Scholar
Growing up in a working-class home, Audrey Winn witnessed the ways in which labor injustices can affect workers and their families. Because of her experiences, she is passionate about protecting workers’ rights and promoting corporate social responsibility.
Before joining the Roots-Tilden-Kern community, Audrey majored in Chinese, Philosophy, and Non-Fiction Writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She organized migrant workers in China while on the State Department Critical Language Scholarship, helped the ACLU develop programs to protect limited-English proficient workers in the Pennsylvania Court System, and traveled to Amsterdam with the Humanity in Action Fellowship in order to gain a greater understanding of international human rights and workers’ rights issues. Her research, both through college and through the United Steel Worker's IGLHR, has explored the unconscionability doctrine, corporate espionage, and the impact of outsourcing on low-income communities.
Beyond domestic labor issues, Audrey is especially interested in labor and human rights issues involving China, and is always looking to improve her Mandarin. 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 in order to find progressive solutions for addressing the tension between workers and companies.
Victoria W. 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.
Sidra S. Zaidi | Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or 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. 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. She served as a health educator for disadvantaged adolescent girls. And she helped local LGBT rights activists author the first study on Kenyan lesbian women’s health. Sidra currently works for Oscar, a digital-first health insurer modeled after the Affordable Care Act. Seeking to more deeply understand the U.S. patient perspective, she resolves complex medical billing mysteries, and helps patients navigate their plans and the broader American healthcare system. This role builds upon her graduate coursework: Sidra holds an MA from Columbia University, where she researched non-discrimination policies in California health law. Through her legal education, 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.