Scholars and Alumni

Class of 2024

Mariana Lopez

Mariana Lopez '24 is originally from Brooklyn, New York. In 2019 she graduated summa cum laude from The George Washington University, where she majored in English and found a passion for racial justice work. During college she interned for various nonprofits, including the organization Community Food Advocates, a group working to end childhood food insecurity in New York City. She was also a legal assistant at a small DC-based law firm that represented both large international NGOs and smaller national and local nonprofits. Upon graduating she joined the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen as a legislative assistant. At Public Citizen she worked on the Replace NAFTA campaign, fighting to protect the rights of workers in both the United States and Mexico. During her time there, she was a research assistant on a report featured in The Washington Post, revealing how free trade agreements have had a disproportionately negative impact on Black and Latinx workers. She also supported a campaign advocating for equitable global access to the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition to her role at Public Citizen, she volunteered for the pro se immigration clinic New Sanctuary, helping clients fill out documentation needed to gain asylum. 


Deborah Merino

Deborah Merino '24 was born in Lima, Peru and moved to the U.S. when she was 6 years old. She was raised in Miami, Florida. Deborah was a recipient of DACA and credits the policy with giving her the opportunity to pursue a college education. Her passion for immigrants rights resulted from her own interactions with policies that marginalize undocumented families and her desire to work as a children's advocate. She attended the University of Florida where she graduated cum laude in 2017. While in college she volunteered at the Child Advocacy Center and Interface Youth Shelter. After graduating, she worked as a behavioral therapist for children on the autism spectrum while also interning at a law firm. Hoping to make a broader impact, she became an educator in the same school district she attended. Deborah taught at a Title 1 public school where most of the student body was Latinx and many of her students were undocumented. One of her priorities as a teacher was creating a community in her classroom where students could freely, and without fear, share in the familiar trauma associated with growing up undocumented. Deborah organized and administered "Know Your Rights" Presentations for her students and the after school club she sponsored. The summer before law school Deborah volunteered at Americans for Immigrant Justice where she conducted intakes for immigrants seeking to apply for DACA and asylum.


Gabriela MacPherson

Gabriela MacPherson ‘24 is originally from northern New Jersey. She graduated magna cum laude from The College of William & Mary in 2019, where she studied Anthropology and Art History. Her experience growing up in a multicultural family, and as the daughter of a Colombian immigrant, led her to study ideas of identity as they relate to immigration. She explored topics such as the adjustment to a new racial ideology that Latinx immigrants face when coming to the United States, the unique challenges faced by speakers of indigenous languages detained at the southern U.S. border, and the impact of urban design and gentrification on low-income immigrant communities.Following graduation, Gabriela developed web content and supported various campaigns for Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center, a community-based organization serving the predominantly-Colombian immigrant population in Morris County, New Jersey. She then served at the New York Immigration Coalition as an AmeriCorps VISTA, promoting legal access for low-income immigrant communities through various training and support programs for local nonprofits. Following her time at the NYIC, she worked at Riverside Language Program to connect recent immigrant English language learners with organizations providing vital services like housing, job training, and healthcare.Gabriela interned with Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative (I-ARC) during her 1L spring, co-writing a needs assessment report on the Afghan evacuee community in New York State. She spent her 1L summer in Los Angeles at the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), where she supported impact litigation on behalf of the Latinx community.Gabriela is currently a student advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic at NYU Law. She is also the Public Interest Professional Development Chair of NYU LaLSA and a Staff Editor of the NYU Review of Law and Social Change.


Class of 2025

Jorge Lee Ochoa

Jorge Lee Ochoa ‘25 was born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. From kindergarten to high school, he crossed the Mexican-American border on a near-daily basis to receive his education in the United States. He graduated from Columbia University in 2021, where he majored in English and Comparative Literature and was named a John Werner Kluge Scholar. After graduating, he worked as a paralegal at the offices of Diez & Crane, an immigration law firm located in the border town of Brownsville, Texas. His time at Diez & Crane reinforced his ambitions to pursue a career in public interest to advance the interests of the Latinx community. At present, he is an active member of the National Hispanic Institute (NHI), a non-profit organization that engages Latinx youth in community leadership roles throughout the United States and Latin America. As part of his work with NHI, he has served in various capacities at over two dozen programs in Texas, Illinois, Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Mexico. His proudest accomplishment within NHI is co-authoring a submission to the Harvard Kennedy School Journal of Hispanic Policy with the President and Co-Founder of NHI, Ernesto Nieto.


Class of 2026


Ana Mariel Gonzalez-Medellin ‘26 was born in Morgantown, West Virginia and has lived in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. Mariel graduated from Georgetown University in 2021, where they majored in Culture and Politics with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. Born to immigrant parents and growing up queer, Mariel was specifically interested in the intersections of gender, sexuality, and immigration status. During their time in college, Mariel also played an active role in the Sexual Assault Peer Educators (SAPE) program, working with the other members to increase awareness about sexual assault on campus through various events and workshops. After graduating, Mariel went on to work in client services at Affordable Family Law, a legal document preparation office. In those two years, they witnessed firsthand how little Latinx representation there is in the legal field and how systemic barriers often prevent the community from seeking the help they need.


Asha Ramachandran '26 is originally from central Massachusetts. They graduated cum laude from New York University, where they double majored in Social and Cultural Analysis and Journalism and minored in Spanish. Asha worked at NYU's independent student newspaper Washington Square News throughout their undergraduate study, first as a leader of the Opinion desk, and later as Deputy Managing Editor. They published weekly editorials about social justice issues on campus and in New York City, with a particular focus on injustice in the criminal and immigration legal systems. Asha also conducted a grant-funded research study investigating the psychosocial impact of electronic monitoring on impacted individuals and their families in New York City. They worked as an Undergraduate Research Fellow for NYU's Prison Education Program and helped produce the PEP Research Lab Oral Histories on Debt and Incarceration. Asha also interned at the Center for the Integration and Advancement of New Americans and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, where they further developed their interest in advocating for people who have been marginalized by the criminal and immigration legal systems and excluded from receiving social services. At CIANA, they conducted street outreach during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spanish-speaking communities in Queens and the Bronx, helping connect undocumented community members with health insurance, PPE, and vaccinations. At Harvard, Asha researched asylee's home country conditions as well as legal standards for immigration relief. After graduating, Asha worked as a Court Representative at The Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services, where they screened, evaluated, and advocated for people in Manhattan Criminal Courts to receive mental health and substance use services and other social services as an alternative to pretrial detention. 


David Jimenez '23, The Bronx Defenders (New York, NY)

Andrés Orr '23, United States District Court

Julio Castillo '22, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (New York, NY)

Jesica Tenaglia '21, The Bronx Defenders (New York, NY)

Sofia Lopez-Franco '21, IJC Fellow, The Bronx Defenders (New York, NY)

Daniela Ugaz '21, The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project (Tucson, AZ)

Maria Romero '20, Norton Rose Fulbright, Fellowship Program at The Door (New York, NY)

Astrid Reyes '19, Staff Attorney, Human Rights and Access to Justice Program, Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice (New York, NY)

Gerardo Romo '19, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Civil Rights Fellow, Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, LLP (New York, NY)

Bobby Hunter '18, Appellate Counsel, Center for Appellate Litigation (New York, NY)

Juliana Morgan-Trostle '17, Senior Program Associate, Acacia Center for Justice (Oakland, CA)

Mariel Villarreal '17, Senior Attorney, California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice (Oakland, CA)

Frances Dávila '16, Program Manager, Unaccompanied Children Program, Acacia Center for Justice (Oakland, CA)

Alicia Nieves '16, Chief of Staff, State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (Austin, TX)

Cristopher Santos '15, Criminal and Civil Litigator at Cohen Williams LLP (Los Angeles, CA)

Luis Angel Reyes Savalza '15, Co-Director & Immigration Attorney, Pangea Legal Services (San Francisco, CA)

Christine LaRochelle '14, Officer, United States Customs and Immigration Services

Amy Pont '14, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society (New York, NY)

Lisandra Fernández-Silber '13, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit, MI)

Kevin Herrera '13, Legal Director, Shriver Center on Poverty Law (Chicago, IL)

Jordan Wells '13, Senior Staff Attorney, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, CA)

Maria Romani '12, Immigrant Rights Program Director, ACLU of Northern California (San Francisco, CA)

Alba Lucero Villa '11, Executive Director, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights (New York, NY)

Maribel Hernández Rivera '10, Deputy National Political Director, Director of the Equality Division, American Civil Liberties Union

Andrea Nieves '10, Supervising Attorney, Policy & Community Engagement, New York County Defender Services (New York, NY)

Tom Fritzsche '09, Executive Director, Milk with Dignity Standards (Burlington, VT)

Melissa Navarro '09,  Deputy Public Defender, Clark County Public Defender's Office (Las Vegas, NV)