Public Interest Law Center

Current Scholars

Class of 2020

Headshot Jordan Berger

Jordan Berger

Jordan Berger grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations. While at Cornell, Jordan served as the President of the Cornell Undergraduate Student Assembly, President of the Cornell Interfaith Council, and an Intergroup Dialogue Project Facilitator. Jordan is a passionate disability rights advocate. Before law school, she interned at the U.S. Department of State and the White House. During her 1L summer, Jordan interned at the ACLU Disability Rights Program in San Francisco, California and worked as a Research Assistant for Professor Cooper Davis. Jordan is an extern in the New York State Office of the Attorney General. At NYU, she serves as a co-chair of the Disability Allied Law Students Association, a Staff Editor on the New York University Law Review, and a teaching assistant in the Lawyering program.

Headshot Nicholas Berghall

Nicholas Berghall

Nick’s work focuses on helping promote racial and economic justice using local policy tools to remove barriers to equal opportunity and participation. At NYU Law Nick has worked on and studied housing as an anchor for economic stability in low income communities both as a research assistant and by supporting the work of community based economic development and housing organizations citywide. He spent his 2L summer at the NYC Department of Housing helping policymakers evaluate and promote progressive housing initiatives. Nick has also researched and written on tax incentives, small business development policy, and home rule in New York. He spent his 1L summer at the NYC Law Department and, prior to joining the NYU community, spent three years helping small and underrepresented business owners in New York City. He spent time at a Brooklyn based economic development nonprofit running a small business coaching program and, prior to that, at the NYC Department of Small Business Services assisting Minority and Women business owners. As a 3L, Nick will help develop and implement racially conscious local policing and economic development policy as a Pro Bono Scholar at the Center for Popular Democracy in Brooklyn. After graduating from NYU Law, Nick hopes to continue work aimed at fighting for economic and racial justice here in New York.

Headshot Whitney Braunstein

Whitney Braunstein

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

Whitney graduated with honors from Tulane University with a BA in Spanish and Portuguese and a minor in Latin American Studies. Before law school, she worked as a Community Fellow with Immigrant Justice Corps, where she represented primarily Black immigrants throughout Brooklyn on matters ranging from asylum to naturalization to Temporary Protected Status. This experience furthered her commitment to dismantling the systemic injustice facing those at the intersection of the criminalization of Blackness and the harsh immigration consequences of contact with the criminal legal system.

At NYU, Whitney is a student advocate in the Juvenile Defender Clinic and a Staff Development Editor on the Review of Law and Social Change. She has also been a student advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic, a fellow with the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law, a research assistant to Professor Alina Das, Communications Director of BALSA, Admissions Co-Chair of OUTLaw, and a teaching assistant in the Lawyering program. She spent her 2L summer at the Center for Appellate Litigation and her 1L summer at the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice.

Headshot Asha Brundage-Moore

Asha Brundage-Moore

Starr Foundation Scholar

Asha grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii and Oakland, California. She graduated from Stanford University in 2015 with a BA in Human Biology concentrating in Food Policy. Before starting at NYU Law, Asha spent two summers at Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale, California working with fellow Stanford students and faculty running a camp teaching local students about gardening, cooking, and healthy eating. Asha surveyed the participating children to see if their experience at camp led to a change in their vegetable preferences. In addition to influencing individual eating habits, she spent time at the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a policy intern analyzing national child nutrition programs. 

Asha believes everyone deserves access to affordable, healthy food and pollutant-free homes, schools, and work environments. After 1L year, Asha interned Pace Law School's Food and Beverage Law Clinic where she helped small farmers address their business needs. Throughout her time at NYU, Asha has worked for justice in environmental and health issue areas in addition to food. During her 2L summer she will be an Environmental Justice Intern at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest assisting environmentally overburdened communities fight for safe, sustainable neighborhoods. At NYU, Asha is an active BALSA member and serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the Environmental Law Journal. 

Headshot Joy Chen

Joy Chen

Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar

Raised just outside of Princeton, New Jersey, Joy graduated from Yale College in 2015 with a degree in History. Before law school, Joy worked as an Investigator at Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS), a public defender office in Brooklyn, New York. Joy spent her 1L summer at the East Bay Community Law Center in Berkeley, California, where she challenged municipal fines and fees in Alameda County’s traffic courts. She spent her 2L summer at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, where she worked on state and federal civil rights cases across a wide range of issue areas, including housing discrimination, police misconduct, wrongful conviction, and sexual harassment and assault.

At NYU, Joy has served as a co-president of the Washington Square Legal Services Bail Fund, a Notes Editor of the NYU Law Review, a research assistant to Professor Rachel Barkow, and an advocate in the Civil Rights and Juvenile Defender Clinics. After law school, Joy will clerk for the Honorable Stuart J. Rabner, Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and the Honorable Richard F. Boulware II of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. Joy hopes to spend her career pursuing criminal legal reform through civil rights litigation and serving those most affected by incarceration and its collateral consequences.

Headshot Maia Cole

Maia Cole

William and Mary Sterling Scholar

Maia is from Millburn, New Jersey, and graduated from Amherst College in 2014 with a degree in Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. There, she conducted extensive research about the death penalty, its unfair and racially biased application, and its representation in popular culture. After graduating, she worked as a civil rights paralegal at Relman, Dane & Colfax, working with attorneys on fair housing and fair lending cases. In this capacity, she saw the variety of barriers from government organizations, banks, and private individuals that her clients faced when trying to find and maintain their housing. Following two years as a paralegal, Maia moved to London to pursue her MA in comparative literature at SOAS, focusing primarily on African and African-American literature about slave narratives.

Maia spent her 1L summer at Atlanta Legal Aid in their Home Defense Project, advocating on behalf of low-income homeowners in the Atlanta metro area. At NYU, Maia is a co-president of REACH (Research, Education, and Advocacy to Combat Homelessness), a research assistant at the Furman Center, and a Staff Editor of the NYU Law Review. After law school, Maia hopes to advocate on behalf of clients facing housing discrimination, and to work to develop policies and practices that promote fair housing.

Headshot Kimberly Fayette

Kimberly Fayette

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

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

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

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

Headshot Garrett Fisher

Garrett Fisher

Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children, and Families

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

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

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

Headshot Amy Joseph

Amy Joseph

Sinsheimer Service Scholar

Amy Joseph is from South Florida, and she grew up within and surrounded by immigrant communities. This spurred in her a love of languages, and she majored in Spanish and minored in Linguistics at the University of Florida as an undergraduate. She then went on to pursue a Master’s in Foreign Language Education at the University of Texas at Austin, where she also taught English as a Second Language night classes. After two years mainly working with students originally from Mexico, she was inspired to apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Mexico and learn more about her students’ culture as well as the immigration-related issues many of them faced. While living in Mexico City the following year, she volunteered at a migrants’ shelter as well as other organizations that worked with immigrants around issues of employment and housing.

Amy then moved to New York City, where she continued teaching adults within an employment agency that assisted individuals on public assistance in finding work. Struck by how much her students’ civil and criminal legal issues impacted their education and employment, Amy decided to transition to the legal field as a paralegal with The Door. At The Door, Amy focused on coordinating The Door’s coverage of the Unaccompanied Minors’ Surge docket, which is a docket composed of young people in expedited removal proceedings. She also worked to connect young people in deportation proceedings with attorneys and help them pursue humanitarian relief.

After Amy’s first year at NYU, she interned in Port-au-Prince, Haiti at the Groupe d'Appui aux Rapatriés & Réfugiés. Her work there centered on the labor rights of undocumented Haitian nationals working in the Dominican Republic. She was excited for the chance to better her Kreyòl, which she hopes to use in practice one day. During her second year, she was a student in the Immigrant Rights Clinic, where she focused on both the intersection of immigration and criminal law and immigration, employment and business law. In the summer after her second year, she interned with the Youth & Communities Team in the Immigration Unit of Brooklyn Defender Services where she worked on a wide variety of immigration-related matters, both affirmative and defensive. She hopes that these experiences will help her work alongside the young people and adults that have so inspired her as they break down barriers and occupy their rightful place in this country.

Headshot Allison Mandeville

Allison Mandeville

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

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

Headshot Juan Martinez-Hill

Juan Martinez-Hill

Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar

Juan grew up in Southern California as the son of an immigrant father from Torreón, Mexico and mother from Midland, Michigan. He is a dual-citizen and the only one of his siblings to be born in the United States. He is a graduate of Brown University where he studied Philosophy & Political Science, interned as a Prison Law Librarian in the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, and assisted with the New York Civil Liberties Union’s 2012 Stop-and-Frisk Police Report as an Arthur Liman Public Interest Law Fellow.

Before law school, Juan worked as a Senior Paralegal at the New York Legal Assistance Group where he represented Public Assistance & SNAP Benefits clients in administrative law hearings to obtain wrongfully denied subsistence benefits. He also worked as a community organizer and with several civil and legal service organizations including the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund, the United Farm Workers Foundation, the New York Immigration Coalition.

At NYU, Juan was Co-President of the Latinx Law Student Association, a member of the Immigrant Rights Clinic, and a staff editor on the Review of Law & Social Change. He spent his 1L summer interning as a Peggy Browning Law Fellow with Make the Road New York's Workplace Justice Project and his 2L summer interning at Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. in Mexico City. He is currently pursuing a career at the intersection of Immigration, Workers' Rights, and Criminal Justice Reform.

Headshot Dinesh McCoy

Dinesh McCoy

WilmerHale Scholar

Dinesh McCoy graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Global Studies in 2015. After graduation, Dinesh worked as a legal assistant at the ACLU’s National Security Project. He later returned to Central North Carolina to work with the Carolina College Advising Corps, a non-profit that places AmeriCorps-funded advisers at high schools throughout North Carolina to promote a college-going culture in public schools where students are underrepresented in higher education.

At NYU, Dinesh is a member of the Immigrant Rights Clinic and a staff editor on the Review of Law and Social Change. He is also part of the Coalition on Law and Representation's leadership collective, and serves on the South Asian Law Student Association executive board.

Dinesh spent his 1L summer internship at the Community Justice Project in Miami, Florida, where he worked to support wage theft casework, conducted research on the impact of large-scale luxury developments on historically working-class Black and immigrant communities in Miami, and assisted as a legal observer at local protests and actions. Dinesh is passionate about community and movement lawyering, and hopes to use his law degree to support the work of organizers and movements in the South.

Headshot Clarence Okoh

Clarence Okoh

Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar

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

Headshot Samantha Osaki

Samantha Osaki

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women's and Children's Rights

Samantha is passionate about civil rights work broadly, with an emphasis on voting rights and environmental justice. A California native and proud Filipina-Japanese American, Samantha graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and with a Civic Scholar distinction from the University of Pennsylvania.

At Penn, Samantha devoted her time to advocating for educational equity and women’s rights as the President of Penn Education Society and Vice President of Seneca International. Upon graduating, she worked in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on a Fulbright Scholarship, receiving a “Peace Ambassador” distinction from the Université Felix-Boigny’s Leadership Initiative Board for her work. After returning to the U.S., Samantha worked for a progressive Congressman, then joined the development team at LIFT, a national nonprofit that connects parents of young children with asset-building opportunities and holistic supports. At NYU, Samantha serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Review of Law & Social Change and Co-Chair of RISE. She has spent her summers at the Brennan Center and the ACLU Voting Rights Project. Samantha looks forward to leveraging the law to fight for a more equitable playing field and healthier futures for all.

Headshot Jennifer Pierre

Jennifer Pierre

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women's and Children's Rights

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

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

Headshot Carley Russell

Carley Russell

Coben Scholar

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

Headshot Marlena Santos

Marlena Santos

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women's and Children's Rights

Marlena was born and raised in Western New York. She graduated from Vassar College in 2014 with a major in Philosophy and a minor in Hispanic Studies. After college, Marlena worked as a paralegal in the Early Case Assessment Bureau at the New York County District Attorney’s Office. Marlena left the DA’s Office in 2016 to work as a paralegal for the New York Legal Assistance Group’s Disability Advocacy Project. There, she advocated for low-income, disabled New Yorkers who had been denied Social Security disability benefits by representing clients in disability appeal hearings and by providing advice, assistance, and representation in benefit terminations and overpayments.

Marlena spent her 1L summer at Brooklyn Defender Services Family Defense Practice. She will continue to fight to keep families together as a member of the Family Defense Clinic. At NYU, Marlena is a Staff Editor on the Moot Court Board and co-chair of the Disability Allied Law Students Association (DALSA). After law school, Marlena plans to continue bridging her passions in disability advocacy and racial and socioeconomic justice as a public defender.

Rachel Sommer Headshot

Rachel Sommer

Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar

Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Rachel graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in international studies. Rachel also earned a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School. Before law school, she worked as a non-profit communications director. Rachel plans to spend her legal career working on community-based civil rights litigation. She spent her 2L summer at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady and her 1L summer at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. During 2L, Rachel worked in the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Office of the Attorney General. At NYU, Rachel has served as an Executive Editor of the New York University Law Review, a Fellow with the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law, and a research assistant to professors Burt Neuborne, Deborah Archer, and Cynthia Estlund. After graduating, Rachel will clerk for the Honorable Harry T. Edwards of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the Honorable Eduardo C. Robreno of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Headshot Priya Sreenivasan

Priya Sreenivasan

Andrew W. Mellon Scholar

Priya graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2015. While in college, Priya was challenged to think critically about service through volunteering with a student-led Service-¬Learning program and the Community Empowerment Fund, an organization committed to relationship-based change for people experiencing homelessness and the community as a whole.  By continuing to engage with the Chapel Hill and Durham communities after college, Priya developed a passion for a holistic approach to social change.

Priya interned with Project South in Atlanta, Georgia the summer after 1L. At Project South, she worked with lawyers committed to taking direction from organizers to use law and advocacy to dismantle systemic racism, classism, and other systems of oppression across the Global South.

Throughout the next two years at NYU Law, Priya is looking forward to learning how to use law to alter patterns of exclusion in a way that relies on the collaboration between lawyers, organizers, and other community members. Priya is committed to a vision of law and organizing that pushes for justice within the current system in addition to reimagining what a “just” world looks like.

Class of 2021

Headshot Yariel Acevedo

Yariel Acevedo

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women's and Children's Rights

Yariel was born in the Bronx, NY to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Growing up in New York City, she observed how systemic inequality disproportionately impacted her community and developed a curiosity for understanding the social forces driving this dynamic. She went on to concentrate in sociology at Harvard College and graduated cum laude in 2015. After college, Yariel’s passion for social justice brought her back to the Bronx where she spent three years teaching seventh grade English Language Arts to special education students as a Teach For America corps member. In 2017, she earned her Masters in the Art of Teaching through the Dual Certificate Program in Special Education at Relay Graduate School of Education. Yariel spent her 1L summer working in the Juvenile Division of the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office where she continued to advocate for the rights of children in marginalized communities. She hopes to use her legal education to combat structural inequality at the intersection of poverty, education, and race.

Headshot Zann Ballsun-Simms

Zann Ballsun-Simms

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women's and Children's Rights

Raised in Maryland, Zann has been passionate about racial justice and combatting white supremacy from a very young age, a passion that was inspired in part by her father’s experiences as an African-American man coming of age during Jim Crow. She was taught to take pride in her Black identity and carried this pride to Fordham University, where she majored in Communication and Media Studies and minored in African and African-American Studies. While at Fordham, Zann was an active member of the Black Student Alliance and became president of the organization during her senior year, giving her a platform to lobby Fordham’s administration to become more inclusive, which resulted in the development of a university-wide Diversity Taskforce. Additionally, she was a Social Justice Leader with the university’s Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice, which enabled her to expose the wider Fordham community to social issues affecting New York City through panels, flyering, and pre-orientation programs for freshmen.

During this time, Zann learned more about the racial inequities in the United States’ legal system and developed an interest in criminal justice reform. She obtained internships with several non-profit organizations, including the Brennan Center for Justice, where she was given an opportunity to get a more comprehensive view of the issues plaguing our justice system. She graduated from Fordham cum laude in 2016 and, following graduation, she obtained an AmeriCorps fellowship with The Choice Program, a mentorship program for juveniles that have been placed on probation by the court. She performed daily home visits, advocated for youth in school and court, and offered them resources and support that could enable them to achieve their personal goals. This gave her the opportunity to bear direct witness to the school-to-prison pipeline, sentencing disparities based on race, and the various other daily injustices faced by those ensnared by the system and their families. This experience hardened her resolve to push for a system where incarceration and removal from the community is a last resort, racial inequities in sentencing are openly acknowledged and corrected, and rehabilitation, rather than punishment, is the primary goal. Following law school, Zann hopes to continue to provide direct services to those in the system by becoming a public defender.

Headshot Al Brooks

Al Brooks

Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children, and Families

Al grew up in Palo Alto, CA. In high school, he co-founded a non-profit dedicated to closing the achievement gap in East Palo Alto and Palo Alto schools. He attended Swarthmore College, where he continued to pursue solutions to inequalities by studying mass incarceration and education. While at Swarthmore, he directed a tutoring and mentoring program and served as Co-President of the Swarthmore African-American Student Society. Al was also selected as a Lang Opportunity Scholar, which gave him funding and support to continue the work of his non-profit. He graduated in 2016 with an honors major in political science, an honors minor in educational studies, and a course minor in public policy. After college, Al worked at a civil rights law firm, specializing in race discrimination and gender discrimination class actions. Al plans to use his law degree to work to counteract the discriminatory impacts of the education and criminal justice systems, especially as they intersect and marginalize women, children, and minorities.

Headshot Eric Brown

Eric Brown

WilmerHale Scholar

Eric grew up in Wilmington, Delaware. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 2016 with degrees in English and Plant Biology. During college, Eric interned in the Public Defenders Office of Wilmington, and also worked with an interdisciplinary research team, called the Colored Conventions Project, to develop a digital archive of historical sources related to 19th century African American political activism. Eric has spent the past two years working as a paralegal for the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, where he has reviewed thousands of requests for legal assistance, provided re-entry services to clients recently released from long-term prison sentences, assisted litigation efforts related to prison conditions reform, and conducted research contributing to the development of a national museum and memorial dedicated to bringing public awareness to the legacy of racial terrorism in the United States.

Headshot Jeremy Burton

Jeremy Burton

Jeremy is native of Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Princeton University in 2018 with a Bachelors of Arts in Politics and a certificate in African-American Studies. While at Princeton, Jeremy served as the Vice President of the Undergraduate Student Government and the Chair of the Diversity and Equity committee, in both capacities working to increase awareness of and responsiveness to issues faced by minority populations. Jeremy spent his summers while at Princeton interning with Umoja Student Development Program – a non-profit education organization instilling restorative justice practices in Chicago Public Schools; Lawyers for Children– a non-profit law firm representing children in New York’s foster care system; and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. These experiences enabled Jeremy to begin to imagine the law as tool for protecting disadvantaged communities and achieving social justice.

Jeremy is passionate about addressing issues of race and education inequality. He hopes to use his legal education to work towards legal and extralegal solutions for changing our justice system from one that many need protection from to one that is equitable and protects all.

Headshot Andre Ceccotti

André Ceccotti

Starr Foundation Scholar

André was born and raised in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He attended the United World College of Costa Rica in San José, CR for high school, before moving to the United States to complete his undergraduate degree in economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain scholar. In North Carolina, André worked with the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) to provide the unemployed and homeless communities of Orange County with financial coaching, better access to housing and employment, and public benefits. During their work at CEF, André and his co-worker Jean were concerned by the systematic lack of legal services sensitive to the needs of these communities in Orange County. In partnership with NC Legal Aid and local attorneys, they founded a free legal clinic in Chapel Hill where people experiencing financial insecurity are able to contest unlawful evictions, apply for unemployment insurance, and access pro bono legal services. André also worked with Self-Help Credit Union and Ventures Fund, underwriting loans for small business owners of color. Beyond North Carolina, André has worked with the Housing Investigation Unit at the New York State Division of Human Rights, where he assisted with housing discrimination cases, and with Open Doors Legal in San Francisco as a Spanish-English legal interpreter. At NYU, André hopes to learn more about the complex needs of the financially insecure, and how legal services in conjunction with financial, educational and social services can most effectively serve and empower these communities.

Headshot James deBoer

James deBoer

Sinsheimer Service Scholar

Rev. James deBoer is excited to apply his organizing and ministry experience to the practice of law. As an organizer he launched a statewide initiative to boost voting and civic engagement among people with disabilities; mobilized support for marriage equality, in-state tuition, and ending mass incarceration; and spearheaded passage of the first rent receipt ordinance in New Jersey. He earned a Master of Divinity at Yale, where he studied how congregational dynamics facilitate organizing and social change. After graduating, he and his spouse assisted congregations in Argentina and Paraguay with a yearlong strategic planning process. He was ordained in 2014 and served as pastor of the Federated Church of Livingston, NJ for four years, where he implemented a bilingual English/Spanish Bible study and convened a clergy task force to investigate inconsistent scheduling practices in the retail sector.

From a faith-based perspective, organizing, ministry, and the law address similar questions of how human beings can live together in society with freedom and justice, how people on the margins can access pathways towards meaningful inclusion, and how all of us can identify and act on shared values across dividing lines. Based on his experience and interests, James intends to provide civil legal services in the areas of immigration or employment law after completing his JD.

Headshot Laura Figueroa

Laura Figueroa

Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar

Laura is passionate about international economic development and the ways that the legal profession can serve the world’s poor through insights on effective governance. She comes to law school after completing her service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Coronel Oviedo, Paraguay. As a Community Economic Development Specialist, she worked on local and national entrepreneurship initiatives and gained first-hand experience of the everyday challenges that people face in a developing economy. There she became acutely aware of the catastrophic effects of corruption on her community’s standard of living, and as an attorney she hopes to combat the systems that allow massive corruption to thrive in lower income environments.

Laura is originally from Puerto Rico and was raised between the island and her second home in Orlando, Florida. She graduated from Stanford University with degrees in Economics and International Relations and minored in Modern Languages in Korean and German. During her time at Stanford, she co-founded Latin@s Unid@s, a student organization determined to create a more inclusive Latin@ community on campus. She was also a JusticeCorps fellow for the San Mateo courthouse in California. Laura has been privileged to study abroad in Japan, Germany and Chile, and is a recipient of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship and Critical Language Scholarship for study in Korea. She hopes to bring these international experiences to bear on her future work as an attorney.

Headshot Julia Harvey

Julia Harvey

Coben Scholar

Julia Harvey is a native of Lincoln, Rhode Island. She graduated with a BA in Public Health from Brown University in 2014. During that time, she focused her studies on addressing disparities in health care access and health outcomes among racial, ethnic, sexual, and gender minorities. Prior to joining the NYU Law community, Julia worked as a Senior Policy Analyst for MassHealth (Massachusetts Medicaid), on a team dedicated to reforming the Medicaid delivery system for nearly 1 million members. The goal of this reform was to ensure coordinated and value-based care for Massachusetts’ most vulnerable citizens. In this role, she developed a passion for public service and healthcare reform.

After law school, Julia plans to continue to fight for improved access to affordable, quality healthcare for those in need.

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Daniel Lee

Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar

Daniel Lee graduated from Williams College in 2014, where he majored in Political Science and Asian Studies. In college, he worked extensively on the US-Mexico border, particularly focusing on the treatment of undocumented migrants in immigration courts and detention centers in Arizona.

After graduation, Daniel received a Fulbright grant to conduct research in Madrid, Spain, where he examined immigration policy and xenophobia in the European Union and Spain at the Universidad Carlos III. Upon completing his Fulbright research, Daniel moved to Washington, DC, where he worked in the Asia Division at Human Rights Watch. While at HRW, he engaged in advocacy with US government officials on human rights issues ranging from the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar; LGBT discrimination in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore; police brutality in Pakistan; the repatriation of North Korean refugees; and academic freedom in China. He also co-authored a report on discrimination against LGBT students in the Philippines. During his 1L summer, Daniel interned at the Human Rights Law Network in Delhi, working on impact litigation cases with the Indian Supreme Court on issues such as affirmative action, acid attacks, caste-based discrimination, and transgender rights in India.

At NYU, Daniel is co-chair of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and a student advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic.  

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Max Markham

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

Max Markham is a native New Yorker and lives in East Harlem. He has worked in various capacities in government and political campaigns for the last six years, most recently serving as Chief of Staff in the Mayor’s Office of Policy & Planning, and as Legislative and Special Projects Manager in the First Deputy Mayor’s Office. In the de Blasio administration, he gained experience working on federal, state and local legislation related to criminal justice and public safety, education and infrastructure. Prior to the Mayor’s Office, Max worked for the New York State Senate, and focused on a range of policy issues related to education, health, labor and HIV/AIDS. He also has previous experience working on major political campaigns at the state and local level. Max graduated from Stanford University with a major in International Relations. He hopes to use his time in law school and skills gained in City and State government to help address systematic inequality in the criminal justice system that leads to overpolicing, mass incarceration and disenfranchisement.

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Kate McMurchie

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

Kate was born and raised in Portland, OR and went to Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. She graduated in 2015 with a degree in Politics. Before law school, she spent three years working at Metropolitan Public Defenders in Portland as a legal assistant in both the criminal and civil legal divisions of the office. Her experience left her passionate about the role public defenders play in challenging the criminal justice system and interested in how public defense offices can best provide holistic representation to their clients.

At NYU, Kate is a member of the Family Defense clinic, an Advocate in Chief for the Suspension Representation Project and a Lawyering TA. She spent her 1L summer at the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, a capital defense office located in New Orleans.

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Ihab Mikati

Ihab was born in Lebanon and raised in the Midwest, graduating with a B.S. in Ecology at the University of Minnesota. His professional focus is on the protection of people's rights to live in a healthy and desirable environment. Prior to law school, he worked for three years studying the health effects of air pollution at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Durham, North Carolina. There, he published national research showing dramatic racial and economic disparities in people's proximity to sources of harmful air pollution.

Ihab views environmental issues through an inherently intersectional civil rights lens. Housing and health rights are implicated where low-income and majority-Black populations demand not to be poisoned by neglected water infrastructure; treaty and speech rights are implicated when indigenous peoples protest pipeline construction across their lands; labor and immigration rights are implicated for the largely Hispanic agricultural workforce who risk constant contact with hazardous chemicals in order to make a living. The meaningful involvement of historically exploited communities is necessary to establish a truly equitable, anti-colonial, and protective environmental justice. To that end, in addition to co-chairing the NYU Environmental Law Society, Ihab has also been active in his local community outside of pure environmental issues—including deep involvement in a police demilitarization campaign while living in Durham and a leadership role in NYU Law Students for Justice in Palestine.

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Anna Nassiff

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women's and Children's RIghts

Anna has a B.A. in Geography from Macalester College. Before joining the Root-Tilden-Kern community, Anna lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she was a Department of Justice Accredited Representative and Law Office Manager with the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC). Her primary work was with immigrants who were domestic violence survivors and immigrant children who had been abandoned, neglected, or abused by a parent. Prior to her work with NMILC, Anna was a legal advocate at Catholic Charities of Central New Mexico VAWA Immigration project, a waitress, a farm hand, and an ecological researcher. 

Working closely with survivors of gender-based violence, especially at the intersections of race and immigration status, shaped Anna’s passion for survivor-driven legal services. Anna hopes to cultivate a legal environment where survivors are informed, empowered, and in charge of their legal options.

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Jaden Powell

Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar

Jaden attended Washington University in St. Louis where she was a John B. Ervin Scholar. She graduated with honors and received a degree in International and Area Studies with a focus in Development and a minor in Political Science. She was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. Throughout her time at Washington University, Jaden became committed to working towards justice for youth, low income populations, and communities of color. She participated in the Family Court Mentoring program through which she counseled adolescents involved in the Family Court of St. Louis County. She was also involved in engaging the campus community in dialogue surrounding issues of diversity and privilege through the Social Justice Center as well as working with campus administration to increase inclusion and diversity. During the summer after her first year of college, Jaden served the Kansas City community at Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri where she expanded awareness on policy issues such as Medicaid Expansion and Title X funding as a public affairs intern. She also worked at Operation Breakthrough, a child care organization dedicated to empowering and supporting low income children and families in Kansas City. The following summer, she interned at Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II’s office in Washington, D.C. and saw the mechanisms of how policy at the national level works for local communities. This understanding led Jaden to intern with the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and Legal Services of Eastern Missouri in St. Louis. From her experiences, Jaden has become familiar with the patterns of disenfranchisement that marginalized populations face every day in the American social system. She is passionate about using direct legal services to stop these patterns daily as well as to empower communities in the development of long term policy solutions.

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Diana Rosen

Diana is interested in the intersection of criminal and immigration defense. She grew up in Little Village, a predominantly Mexican-American working class neighborhood on the Southwest Side of Chicago. In 2016, she graduated from Yale University with a degree in Ethics, Politics & Economics and a certificate in Education Studies. At Yale, Diana served as Opinion Editor of the Yale Daily News and worked as a classroom assistant at a public elementary school. She also interned for the Chicago Teachers Union and Jobs With Justice, a national workers’ rights organization. Between college and law school, Diana worked as a paralegal for the Federal Defenders in the Eastern District of New York, where she worked with attorneys, social workers, and investigators to vigorously represent indigent clients.

At NYU, Diana is a student advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic, a staff editor on the NYU Law Review, an intake manager for the Suspension Representation Project, and a Criminal Law teaching assistant. During her 1L summer she interned at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, where she represented an asylum seeker in an individual removal hearing. Diana hopes to use her law degree to support movements and organizers in a direct service capacity.

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Nhaca Le Schulze

William and Mary Sterling Scholar

Nhaca was born in rural Vietnam and grew up outside of Seattle. She graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in International Political Economy. Throughout college and since graduating, Nhaca has interned and worked across East and Southeast Asia at a number of nonprofits focused on international development and social justice. Most recently, she served at an advocacy group in Singapore supporting migrant construction workers from India, Bangladesh, and China. Nhaca’s personal experience growing up in a low-income immigrant community in America, coupled with her work experience with the poor and marginalized in both developed and developing countries overseas opened her eyes to the reality that in most justice systems, it is better to be rich and guilty than poor and innocent. Nhaca is excited to return to school after six years to equip herself with more skills to be a better advocate.

At NYU, Nhaca is a student advocate in the Family Defense Clinic and the Co-President of the Washington Square Legal Services Bail Fund. She spent her 1L summer at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem in their Criminal Defense Practice.

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Jacqueline Uranga

Andrew W. Mellon Scholar

Jacqueline Uranga grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2015, Jacqueline graduated from Bowdoin College, where she majored in government and legal studies and minored in history. She returned to Northern California after completing her undergraduate education to work for progressive labor organizations. Jacqueline comes from a family with proud stories of union leadership, but her community has also been coping with the high cost of living and changing job market in the increasingly tech-dominated region of the Bay Area. She was inspired by her family to use her educational background to take on an assortment of roles in labor unions fighting for a living wage for all workers and demanding a seat at the table for workers contracted by tech giants such as Google and Facebook. Jacqueline juggled many hats as an organizer, filing grievances for union contract violations, bringing campaigns for the right to unionize to successful conclusions, and building coalitions of diverse workers and community organizations. In her next career step working as a paralegal for Disability Rights Advocates, Jacqueline became certain that high impact litigation was the work where she would be able to create the greatest and most lasting impact in the arena of workers’ rights. Jacqueline plans to bring the mentality of an organizer to litigation work in the public interest, where she believes that giving a voice to workers who otherwise lack the platform to advocate for their rights will be equally important.

Class of 2022

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Olivia Abrecht

Starr Foundation Scholar

Before joining the NYU Law Class of 2022, Olivia Abrecht was a youth organizer for four years at the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC), a grassroots community organization in a predominantly Latinx community on the southwest side of Chicago. Olivia worked with youth at neighborhood middle and high schools and supported their development as leaders within youth-led and inter-generational campaigns for racial and economic justice. Olivia’s work focused particularly on campaigns to expand sanctuary and dismantle the school to prison to deportation pipeline. Olivia began organizing as a student at the University of North Carolina against attacks on workers' rights and cuts to public education and graduated with a degree in Political Science and American Studies in 2015. She looks forward to grounding her legal education in her experience as a youth organizer and understanding legal strategies to bolster community organizing and social movements.

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Eli Ashenafi

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

Eli Ashenafi is a first generation Ethiopian American from San Diego, California. After graduating from Gonzaga University, he went to work at a nonprofit mentoring and tutoring at risk youth. Most recently, he served his community as a social worker for Children’s Protective Services. Eli’s passion for social justice is fueled by his desire to be a voice for the voiceless. Although his focus is primarily on communities of color, his interests lie at the intersection of many vital areas, including criminal justice reform and voting rights. At NYU Law, Eli plans on being an active member of the BALSA and greater ALSA communities, while exposing himself to as many experiential opportunities to serve others as possible.

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Yosmin Badie

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

Yosmin Badie graduated cum laude from The University of Maryland with a major in Economics and Government & Politics, and a minor in Mathematics. As a daughter of Iranian immigrants, she served as the President of the Iranian Students’ Foundation, where she focused on building community amongst fellow Iranian-American students and connecting to the greater Iranian community. Upon graduation, Yosmin worked as a business development associate at Bloomberg. With the refugee crisis reaching its peak during this time, she decided to leave the corporate world to actively support communities fleeing their homes in search of safety. She moved to Thessaloniki, Greece to volunteer for Emergency Response Centre International, a Greek NGO. There, she managed Elpida Refugee Camp, working alongside Syrian and Iraqi residents to improve the conditions of the camp and to transform it into a community space. After 7 months in Greece, Yosmin returned stateside to run the Washington D.C. branch of The Petey Greene Program, where she supported the academic achievement of incarcerated people in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia by bringing university students to tutor GED students inside prisons and jails. Yosmin worked to expand access to education on the inside and worked alongside those incarcerated to establish the program at the Washington, D.C. Jail. At NYU, Yosmin hopes to expand her capacity to not only mitigate the experience of oppression faced by refugees, immigrants, incarcerated individuals, and other marginalized communities, but to also leverage her education to dismantle these systems of oppression.

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Muriel Carpenter

Muriel grew up between Northfield, Minnesota and Paris, France. She attended Swarthmore College and majored in French and Francophone Studies, with minors in Arabic Studies and Islamic Studies. While at Swarthmore, Muriel began interning with the legal department of the Nationalities Service Center in Philadelphia. There, she assisted immigration attorneys by translating and interpreting for clients between Spanish, French, Arabic, and English. Muriel completed two semesters abroad, in Paris and in Amman, Jordan. After graduating from Swarthmore in 2016, she returned to Amman to pursue advanced Arabic language study with the support of the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) fellowship. Muriel interned with the Amman Field Office of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), drafting detailed affidavits for Syrian, Iraqi, and Sudanese clients. During her time at Swarthmore and abroad, Muriel also worked remotely as the Chief Operating Officer of Paper Airplanes, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to providing individualized educational resources to people affected by conflict in the Middle East. Most recently, Muriel returned to the Nationalities Service Center’s legal team as a DOJ/BIA Accredited Representative, representing clients in hundreds of immigration cases before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Muriel plans to use her law degree and language skills to represent and advocate for individuals as they navigate the U.S. immigration and criminal justice systems, particularly in cases of immigrant detention.

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Jessica Coffrin-St. Julien

Dr. Milton and Fradie Kramer Scholarship

Jessica joins the NYU Law community after several years working in direct service, research, and leadership roles at local organizations committed to advancing education and immigration justice. Most recently, she spent four years as the Deputy Director of Masa, a South Bronx non-profit that partners with Mexican and Central American immigrant families to build community power. At Masa, she helped develop and manage family engagement, education, and immigrant rights programs. Prior to joining the staff, Jessica served on Masa’s board, chairing the Governance and Program Committees. She holds a BA in Metropolitan Studies and Spanish from NYU’s College of Arts and Science, where she graduated summa cum laude, and a Masters in the Sociology of Education from Steinhardt. Jessica believes in the transformative power of local, community-led work, and hopes to one day be of service in that work as an immigration lawyer.

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Jemie Fofanah

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women's and Children's Rights

Jemie Fofanah graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Temple University with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Economics. She interned at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, and Women’s Law Project. The latter sparked her interest in institutional and legal responses to domestic violence. For fun, Jemie participated in competitive debate and served as her university team president for her last two years. After graduation, Jemie worked as a reader and research assistant to Judge David S. Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a U.S. Senate staffer, and a volunteer for the Rikers Debate Project. At NYU Law, she is an active member of BALSA. She also serves as a policy and advocacy organizer for Know Your IX, a youth- and survivor-led organization that aims to combat sexual violence in education.

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Nardos Girma

Andrew W. Mellon Scholar

Originally from Ethiopia, Nardos grew up in Davis, California and has spent most of her life in the greater Sacramento region. She graduated from Stanford University in 2014 with a BA in Political Science and a minor in African Studies. After graduating, Nardos worked for over four years in the California State Capitol, first as an assembly fellow in the Capital Fellows Program and most recently as a Legislative Director for a State Assemblymember. While at the California State Capitol, Nardos worked on legislation in a variety of issue areas, including transportation, health, environmental quality, and housing. Her experience gave her a firsthand look at the complexities of policymaking and fostered her interest in advocating for more equitable and just policies through state and local government. During her time in the legislature, Nardos became especially interested in the intersection between environmental policy, public health, and urban land use. Nardos is excited to join the NYU community and hopes to further explore her interest in environmental law and develop the skills to help push for justice.

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Maya Goldman

William and Mary Sterling Scholar

Maya has a B.A. in Anthropology and Human Rights from the University of Chicago. While in college, she discovered her passion for criminal justice reform and prison abolition through internships with Human Rights Watch, the Vera Institute of Justice, and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cook County. After graduation, she worked with Human Rights Watch providing research and advocacy support to change policies related to the criminal justice system, immigration, and handling of sexual assault cases. Maya then spent two years as an Outreach Paralegal with the Southern Poverty Law Center in Tallahassee, Florida, where she was involved in building a class-action lawsuit against the state for its excessive use of solitary confinement, as well as policy and litigation efforts to keep children out of adult jails and prisons. Maya grew up in Maryland and New York, and is excited to return to the city to join the Root-Tilden-Kern community. She looks forward to using her time at NYU to further explore how criminal justice intersects with gender identity, race, mental health, and class, and as an attorney and advocate, she hopes to ensure that people arrested or incarcerated for violent offenses are always part of criminal justice reform efforts.

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Elena Hodges

Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar

Originally from rural Montana, Elena attended the United World College of the Adriatic, a 2-year international IB school in Northern Italy, and Yale University, where she studied Political Science. At Yale, she participated in the inaugural class of a 3-year Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights through Yale Law School. For her program capstone, she created a resource mapping initiative for local refugees and asylum seekers. Elena has extensive international experience with community-based research and advocacy. During the 2014 World Cup, she worked as a human rights journalist for a local favela rights nonprofit, covering police violence, forced evictions, and environmental violations in Rio de Janeiro. The following summer, she worked with the International Labour Organization to document labor violations in Jordanian garment factories. She returned to Jordan to undertake archival Arabic-language research for her undergraduate thesis, which explored Jordanian governance and Palestinian-Jordanians’ rights since the 1970s. After graduating from university, Elena spent a summer back in Montana as a research intern for the Montana Human Rights Network, focusing primarily on access to healthcare and LGBTQ rights. Elena then moved to Lebanon. In Beirut, she spent four months with Legal Agenda researching post-conflict judicial independence, comparing South Africa, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, and Belgium. She then spent a year directing research and advocacy for SAWA for Development and Aid, a local NGO that works with Syrian refugees in informal settlements. Elena speaks Arabic, Portuguese, and Italian. After law school, Elena hopes to continue working with forcibly displaced communities to promote access to justice and more accountable, dignifying approaches to human rights and humanitarianism.

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Abigail Lederman

Sinsheimer Service Scholar

Abigail grew up outside of Washington, D.C., and attended Cornell University, where she studied psychology, philosophy, and music. Through an externship at Cornell, she practiced child therapy at a nearby elementary school where she witnessed the effects of poverty, homelessness, and the child welfare system on her students and their families. After graduating, Abigail worked as a family advocate at the Center for Family Representation in Queens. As a member of the social work staff, she managed a caseload of parents facing neglect and abuse charges in family court, working alongside attorneys to provide legal representation and comprehensive support. She witnessed firsthand the effectiveness of the organization’s interdisciplinary, supportive model of representation. While navigating the child welfare system, Abigail also came into contact with the city’s housing, health care, criminal, immigration, and welfare systems. She saw the way these systems interacted and compounded to impair parents’ abilities to successfully end their family court cases. Abigail hopes to use her law degree to reduce the legal and economic barriers that low-income people face in pursuing the best for themselves and their families.

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Rachel Lindy

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

Rachel grew up outside of Philadelphia, PA, and graduated from Wesleyan University in 2015 with a degree in Mathematics-Economics and Environmental Studies. As an undergraduate, they were active in environmental organizing, and co-founded their university’s fossil fuel divestment campaign. Through engagement with anti-coal activism in West Virginia and food justice work in Middletown and Philadelphia, Rachel became focused on the intersections among social, economic, and environmental justice. Following graduation, they worked at a policy research and evaluation firm in Oakland, CA, assisting in projects addressing public benefits access, education policy, and employment for vulnerable populations. After returning to Philadelphia, Rachel took on a paralegal position with Philadelphia Legal Assistance’s Medical-Legal-Community Partnership (MLCP). There, they staffed a generalist civil legal practice servicing community health center patients, and helped to facilitate the expansion of the MLCP to make legal services available to low-income Philadelphians in opioid use recovery. They have also been involved with organizing for incarcerated people’s rights, joining the efforts of formerly incarcerated individuals and family members of those incarcerated in PA to advocate for the end of long-term solitary confinement. As a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar, Rachel hopes to build upon their policy and direct service experience and learn to use litigation and advocacy to tackle the structures upholding mass incarceration, in turn supporting the implementation of alternatives centering racial and economic justice.

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Myles McMurchy

Myles McMurchy grew up in South Louisiana. He graduated magna cum laude with High Honors from Dartmouth College with a degree in history and minor in public policy. As a first-generation college student from a low-income household, attending a university with one of the wealthiest student bodies in the United States highlighted the opportunity gap that impedes many Americans from reaching their highest potential. This experience motivated Myles to pursue a legal career in service of families facing hardship. At NYU Law, Myles is also part of the AnBryce Program, which supports students who are among the first in their family to pursue an advanced degree despite challenging socioeconomic circumstances. Prior to law school, Myles worked to improve educational outcomes for low-income students. At Dartmouth, he was a research assistant in Professor Michele Tine’s Poverty and Learning Lab studying how poverty affects children’s brain development. He also worked as a consultant for the Vermont House Committee on Education investigating differences in teacher quality between the state’s public and independent schools. He served as a Policy/Advocacy Intern at the Alliance for Excellent Education in Washington, D.C., and spoke at the White House as part of Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative. Myles also taught eighth graders at Breakthrough San Francisco, a program for high-achieving, low-income students. After college, he worked as an analyst evaluating education reform initiatives and providing technical assistance at SRI International, a research institute in Menlo Park, CA.

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Catherine O'Neill

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women's and Children's Rights

Catherine O’Neill is from Atlanta, Georgia. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied English and journalism. During college, she interned for the Georgia Innocence Project and the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services. While abroad in London, she worked for Rene Cassin, a human rights non-profit. During college, she became interested in mass incarceration, prison abolition, and direct representation of clients. After college, Catherine moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma to work for Still She Rises, the first public defender’s office in the country exclusively dedicated to the representation of mothers. During her two years with Still She Rises, Catherine worked to advocate for indigent mothers with child welfare workers, judges, treatment providers, and probation officers, among others. It was at Still She Rises that Catherine had the opportunity to work with poor mothers and mothers of color who were disproportionately targeted by the child welfare and criminal justice systems. After finishing law school, Catherine hopes to work as a family defense attorney for indigent parents.

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Krystle Okafor

Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children, and Families

Krystle Okafor is a JD candidate and Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar at the New York University School of Law with a focus on expanding access to opportunity and improving public systems that serve people experiencing poverty. Prior to matriculating at NYU, Krystle completed three years of service with the City of Philadelphia, most recently as a policy analyst in the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity. There, her work centered on housing instability and operationalizing social equity. Krystle began her career as a legislative assistant within the affordable housing practice group of a Washington, DC, law firm. She supported a team of attorneys (all women!) who structured affordable housing transactions and counseled nonprofit housing developers. Krystle holds an MS in social work from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in government and politics from the University of Maryland, College Park. During her time at the University of Pennsylvania, Krystle was research assistant to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and received the Jay Goldman Endowed Scholarship for her contributions in the classroom. During her time at the University of Maryland, Krystle interned with the Urban Institute and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and was named a Baltimore City Mayoral Fellow. Krystle strives to root her policy work in the lived experiences of the people she serves. Over the years, Krystle has partnered with teens in Southeast Washington, DC, to install rain gardens in their neighborhood parks and has partnered with mothers in West Philadelphia transitional housing sites to create literacy-rich environments for their children.

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Juilee Shivalker

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women's and Children's Rights

Juilee is primarily interested in the intersection of human rights, immigration, and criminal justice. She graduated cum laude from Wake Forest University in 2018, with a B.A. in Politics and International Affairs. While at Wake Forest, she helped found the Student Association For the Advancement of Refugees, which assisted administrators with the Every Campus A Refuge house and focused on providing assistance to refugees who had recently been resettled in the area. After graduating, she completed an AmeriCorps year at New American Pathways, a refugee resettlement agency in Atlanta, GA. As the Civic Education AmeriCorps member, Juilee organized and assisted clients at naturalization clinics. She also worked to increase civic engagement in the refugee community by teaching adults and children about aspects of American government, such as elections and civil rights. After law school, Juilee plans to continue working with refugee and immigrant communities.

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Emily Stewart

WilmerHale Scholar

Emily is a New York City native. In 2016, she graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Government. At Bowdoin, she had the opportunity to analyze sea level rise research to inform community resilience policies in MidCoast Maine. As an Environmental Studies Fellow, she worked on forming a Food Council in Brunswick and Topsham that revitalized sustainable farming and fishing, and received Bowdoin’s Environmental Studies Award. After graduating, Emily worked as a Public Education intern at the Natural Resources Defense Council, where she gained experience communicating a broad array of environmental policy issues, such as offshore drilling, hydraulic fracking and water contamination. Emily then moved on to become the Program Manager at Grades of Green, an environmental education nonprofit based in Los Angeles and New York that mentors students across the globe to create innovative solutions to water, waste, energy and toxins issues in their communities. An advocate for equitable environmental health, Emily plans to use her legal training to defend and build on the regulatory framework that safeguards our communities and ecosystems.

Lucy Trieshmann

Lucy Trieshmann

Coben Scholar

Lucy grew up in Newport News, VA, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017 with a B.A. in Anthropology and Global Development Studies. During her time at UVA, Lucy served as Vice President of Alternative Spring Break, Vice President of Social Affairs for the Kappa Kappa Psi music fraternity, and Safety Supervisor for the University Transit Service. She also played tuba in the Cavalier Marching Band. Through several sources of grant funding, she had the opportunity to conduct cross-cultural, international research on barriers to chronic disease management in low resource communities and present her team’s research at several conferences. Acquiring her disability in 2016 turned Lucy into a passionate disability rights advocate. As an undergraduate, she worked closely with the Department of Parking and Transportation to assess and revise the University’s paratransit system. Prior to law school, she worked for the Blue Trunk Foundation, a disability rights nonprofit focused on accessible travel, and now sits on the board. Lucy feels passionately about addressing the inequality faced by people with disabilities in the United States. She hopes to assist individuals appealing Social Security Disability Income denials and influence legislation to combat ableism and foment equality of the disability community.

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Winnie Vien

Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar

Winnie grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, raised by a proud immigrant mother from Vietnam. She graduated from Swarthmore College in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Anthropology and minors in Spanish and Chinese. Coming from a low-income background, Winnie always knew that she wanted to give back to and build up the community that shaped her to be who she is today. For two summers in college, she interned with the housing rights and workers’ rights programs at Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, where she assisted many low-income immigrants much like her mother, who were facing evictions and wage theft. As she listened to the experiences of elders living in single room occupancy units, participated in protests for more restrictions on short-term rentals, and performed wage calculations for local restaurant workers, Winnie witnessed first-hand the extent of the housing crisis plaguing the Bay Area and the difficulty of maintaining a living wage to keep up with the skyrocketing rents. In her senior thesis, she examined the ways in which residents’ experience with gentrification and urban development shaped their sense of belonging in the community. After college, she spent three years working as a legal assistant in the San Diego office of Sanford Heisler Sharp, a public interest law firm specializing in employment discrimination and retaliation matters. Winnie is excited to build upon her interest in housing and employment law, and hopes that law school will provide her with the skills to better advocate for traditionally underserved communities. She looks forward to pursuing a career that involves a mix of direct service, impact litigation, and the ability to put her language skills to good use.

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Hadiya Williams

Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar

Hadiya Williams is from Mansfield, Massachusetts though she spent most of her formative years in Urbandale, Iowa. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst earning a dual-degree in Psychology-Neuroscience (B.S.) and Anthropology (B.A.) alongside a Certificate in Culture, Health, & Science. During her time in Amherst, she was involved in social justice activism while serving as a Student Government Senator, Status of Diversity Faculty Senate Council Member, and Social Justice & Empowerment Committee Member. Her social justice work took her to New Orleans, the Mexican/US Border, Haiti, and the Middle East, where she worked on pertinent issues including development, immigration, and public health. Hadiya also served as an executive board member of the Black Student Union and as the president of her campus' Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated chapter. Her senior thesis "Black Health Inequalities in the United States" inspired Hadiya to pursue a career in health justice. Upon graduation, Hadiya was named a 21st Century Leader by the University of Massachusetts. The following year, she returned to Amherst to earn her Masters in Public Policy, where she focused on her passion for women's health policy and health equity in communities of color. During graduate school, she researched policy issues concerning reproductive rights and justice. She also interned with the Franklin County Regional Government regarding issues of housing in communities of color within the county. She looks forward to using her legal education to advocate for reproductive rights and health justice.