Public Interest Law Center

Current Scholars

Class of 2022

Olivia Abrecht Headshot

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 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. She graduated with a degree in Political Science and American Studies in 2015.

During law school, Olivia has spent her summers in Chicago working at the MacArthur Justice Center and Just Futures Law. She is a student advocate in the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic and was on the board of the NYU National Lawyers Guild. She looks forward to returning to Chicago after law school and leveraging legal strategies to bolster community organizing and social movements.

Eli Ashenafi Headshot

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

Yosi Badie (pronouns: she/her/hers) graduated from The University of Maryland with a major in Economics and Government & Politics, and a minor in Mathematics. At UMD, she served as the President of the Iranian Students’ Foundation, where she focused on building community.

Before law school, Yosi lived in Thessaloniki, Greece, where she worked at Elpida refugee camp. In 2017, Yosi 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 organizing and training university students to tutor GED students inside prisons and jails. Yosi worked to expand access to education on the inside and worked alongside those incarcerated to establish the program at the Washington, D.C. Jail.

As a lawyer, she hopes to leverage her skills to support movements working to abolish systems of oppression, while also representing those who are most impacted by them. During her 1L summer, she interned with Legal Aid Society's Cop Accountability Project. During her 2L summer, she interned with the Bronx Defenders' Immigration Practice. At NYU, Yosi is part of the Middle Eastern Law Students Association, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), NYU-National Lawyers Guild, and serves on the board for Law Students for Justice in Palestine. She's also a student advocate in the Advanced Immigrant Rights Clinic.

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Muriel Carpenter

Muriel grew up between Northfield, Minnesota and Paris, France. After graduating from Swarthmore College with a degree in French and Francophone Studies, Muriel lived in Jordan to pursue advanced Arabic language study with the support of the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) fellowship. There, Muriel interned with the Amman Field Office of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), drafting detailed affidavits for Syrian, Iraqi, and Sudanese clients. While 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. For two years before beginning law school, Muriel was a legal assistant and then a DOJ Accredited Representative at the Nationalities Service Center in Philadelphia. In this role, she represented clients in hundreds of immigration cases before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

At NYU, Muriel is a student advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic. She spent her 1L summer interning remotely at The Door: A Center of Alternatives and working as a research assistant for Professor Arthur R. Miller. During her 2L summer, Muriel interned for the Alaska Federal Public Defenders, appearing in court and filing motions on behalf of people accused of federal crimes.

Muriel plans to use her law degree to represent and advocate for individuals as they navigate the U.S. immigration and criminal legal systems.

Jessica Coffrin-St. Julien Headshot

Jessica Coffrin-St. Julien

Dr. Milton and Fradie Kramer Scholar

Jessica joins the NYU Law community after several years working in direct service, research, and leadership roles in New York City community-based organizations. Most recently, she spent four years as the Deputy Director of Masa, a Bronx non-profit that partners with Mexican and Central American immigrant families to build community power. Jessica holds a BA in Metropolitan Studies and Spanish from NYU’s College of Arts and Science, and a Masters in the Sociology of Education from Steinhardt. At NYU Law, Jessica will participate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic for two years, and is a Digital Articles Editor on the Review of Law and Social Change. She has been a Torts teaching assistant, a clerk for the Prisoners Legal Advocacy Network (a project of the National Lawyers Guild), and a research assistant for Professors Adam Cox, Jonathan Harris, and Emma Kaufman. During her 1L summer, she worked at Lutheran Social Services' Immmigration Legal Program. During her 2L summer, she worked at Brooklyn Defender Services’ detained deportation defense unit. Jessica believes in the transformative power of local, community-led work, and hopes to support 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. On campus, she 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 US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, a U.S. Senate staffer, a volunteer for the Rikers Debate Project, and an SEO Law Fellow. At NYU Law, she is active in Women of Color Collective (WoCC), Black Allied Law Students Association (BALSA), and Review of Law and Social Change. She is also an inaugural Robert A. Katzmann Scholar. During her 1L summer, Jemie worked as a law intern at the Office of the Appellate Defender focusing on criminal appeals and parole advocacy. She spent her 2L summer as a summer associate at Covington & Burling’s Washington DC office. Outside of law school, Jemie is a policy and advocacy organizer for Know Your IX, a youth- and survivor-led organization that aims to combat sexual violence in education. In her free time, Jemie likes to watch HBO miniseries, try out new recipes, and is a junior cheerleading coach for the Soul Deevas.

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Nardos Girma

Andrew W. Mellon Scholar

A first-generation American, Nardos grew up in Northern California. After graduating from Stanford University with a degree in Political Science, she worked in the California State Legislature for five years, where she focused on policy areas such as transportation, health, environmental quality, and housing. During her time in the legislature, Nardos became especially interested in the intersection between environmental law, local land use, housing, and environmental justice. She also deepened her interest in state and local policy while gaining insight into the complexities and challenges of policymaking at any level.

Nardos is an Articles Editor for NYU's Environmental Law Journal and an active member of the Black Law Students Association. She has also worked as a research assistant at the Furman Center. Nardos spent her 2L summer at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, in their Environmental Justice Program, and her 1L summer at Housing Conservation Coordinators.

Maya Goldman Headshot

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

Elena Hodges grew up in rural Montana, on occupied Niitsítapi and Salish Kootenai land, and is passionate about civil rights, transnational human rights, and Indigenous sovereignty. She graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Political Science and a certificate in Human Rights, and is a proud United World College of the Adriatic alum. During college, Elena worked with community-based groups in Jordan and Brazil, including a favela rights journalism nonprofit in Rio de Janeiro, where she covered police violence, militarization, and environmental violations during the 2014 World Cup. After graduating, she spent a year and a half in Beirut, Lebanon, directing advocacy and research for a local refugee rights organization. At NYU, Elena is a student advocate in the Advanced Immigrant Rights Clinic, an Institute for International Law and Justice Scholar, and a Just Security Student Staff Editor. She also co-organized the Database for Police Abolition, a policy and organizing resource now housed within the Defund the Police website; and provided research assistance to Toni Rembe and Arthur Rock Immigrant Defense Fellow Jessica Rofé, investigating immigration habeas litigation and abolitionist movements, and Professor Philip Alston, during the last year of his mandate as U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. During her 2L summer, Elena was an Ella Baker intern with the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she worked on Palestinian solidarity litigation; supported Black communities in Cancer Alley mobilizing against environmental racism and corporate plunder; and partnered with the Ramapough Lenape Nation to devise a federal sovereignty strategy. After law school, Elena hopes to support Indigenous and immigrant communities organizing to dismantle oppressive structures and create alternatives.

Abigail Lederman Headshot

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 unstable housing, hunger, 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 worked alongside attorneys to support parents and to reunify and strengthen families impacted by the child welfare system. In this role, 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 reunify with their families and their disproportionate impact on poor families and parents of color. Abigail spent her 1L summer as a law clerk at Orleans Public Defenders in Louisiana. Upon graduating, she hopes to work at the intersection of the criminal and civil legal systems to provide comprehensive support to people and families whom the law most often fails.

Rachel Lindy Headshot

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, Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar, and Moelis Urban Law and Public Affairs Fellow at the New York University School of Law. Krystle has a background in urban and social policy; she has worked to move the needle for low-income families and communities. Before law school, 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. Krystle designed and secured grant funding for programs to support low-income renters, staffed public-private task forces on citywide housing issues, prepared language on “special populations” for Philadelphia’s Assessment of Fair Housing and Consolidated Plan, and conducted survey research with people experiencing houselessness. Earlier in her career, Krystle was a legislative assistant in 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 a 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 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, conducted research at the National Center for Smart Growth, and received the Baltimore City Mayoral Fellowship.

Juilee Shivalker Headshot

Juilee Shivalkar

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

Juilee Shivalkar is most recently from Atlanta, Georgia, though she was born in Mumbai, India and has also lived in Iowa and North Carolina. She graduated from Wake Forest University in 2018, with a B.A. in Politics and International Affairs and minors in Middle East and South Asian studies and Classical Languages. 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 creating community between students and recently resettled refugees. After graduation, she worked at New American Pathways to increase civic engagement in refugee and immigrant communities in Atlanta, GA. During her 1L summer, Juilee focused on international human rights through her internship at Reprieve U.K. and participation on a Coronavirus and Human Rights pro bono research project. Following law school, Juilee hopes to use her legal education in creative ways to work with communities to promote access to justice and dismantle systems of oppression.

Emily Stewart Headshot

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. Winnie returned to the Asian Law Caucus as a law clerk for their workers' rights program during her 1L summer and spent her 2L summer working on all things labor at the union-side firm Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld in the Bay Area.

Hadiya Williams Headshot

Hadiya Williams

Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar

Hadiya is a third-year J.D. student at NYU School of Law. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst earning a dual-degree in Psychology-Neuroscience (BS) and Anthropology (BA) alongside a Certificate in Culture, Health, & Science. Upon graduation, Hadiya was named a 21st Century Leader by the University of Massachusetts. The following year, she returned to Amherst to earn her Master's in Public Policy, where she focused on her passion for women's health policy and health equity.

At NYU Law, Hadiya was the Co-Chair of BALSA, in the Civil Rights Clinic, and the PILSA Diversity & Outreach Co-Chair. She is currently Executive Editor on the Law Review, a Birnbaum Women's Leadership Fellow, a Center for Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Fellow, and will be a Pro Bono Scholar in the spring.

Hadiya is interested in litigation and advocating for health justice in communities of color.

Class of 2023

 Julia Bodson

 Julia Bodson

Julia is interested in becoming a public defender and working towards the abolition of the prison industrial complex. She graduated with a degree in Statistics from the University of Chicago in 2016. While in college, she researched racial, ethnic, and class inequities in preventive cancer vaccination. After graduation, she worked as an Empirical Research Fellow at Stanford Law School, assisting Professor Alison Morantz on research about worker health and safety protections. Julia then transitioned to direct client services, joining the inaugural cohort of Partners for Justice Advocates at the Office of Defense Services in Delaware. Julia spent her 1L summer in the Appellate Division of the Rhode Island Public Defender's Office. At NYU, she represents employees in unemployment insurance hearings with the Unemployment Action Center.

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Jesse Chung 

Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar

Jesse grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Arlington, Virginia. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 2018, where he majored in Economics and Environmental Studies. At Bowdoin, his growing interest in racial and economic injustice in the criminal system led him to  volunteer with The Volunteer Lawyers Project of Maine and to conduct research on prison privatization and the history of indigent defense services in the United States. After college, Jesse spent two years as a Justice Fellow at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. At EJI, he investigated the epidemic of violence in Alabama prisons, spoke with incarcerated people around the country calling to seek legal assistance, provided re-entry services to clients who were released following Graham and Miller, and researched the legacy of slavery and racial terrorism in the United States. Witnessing the dehumanization of poor and Black people in Alabama’s criminal system made Jesse passionate about the need to dismantle our culture of punishment and abolish prisons. He hopes to use his law degree to represent indigent clients as a public defender.

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Matthew Escalante

Matt is from Chicago, IL, and graduated from Northwestern University in 2013 with a BA in Political Science and International Studies. As a first generation college graduate, Matt was committed to improving educational outcomes for others. Upon graduating college, he began his career as a preschool teacher with Chicago Public Schools. Throughout his six years in the classroom, Matt observed how his young students and their families confronted inequalities in the education, health, and immigration systems. This drove him to seek opportunities to affect change outside the classroom. In the summer of 2019, Matt started a new job as a paralegal within Legal Aid Chicago’s Health Justice Project where he helped clients navigate health harming legal needs and social determinants of health.

Matt hopes to use his legal training to advocate for marginalized communities like those who he worked with as a teacher. During his 1L summer, he interned with Advocates for Children of New York. At NYU, Matt is co-admissions chair of the Latinx Law Students Association (LaLSA) and is also a student advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic.

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Lily Gutterman

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

Lily Gutterman graduated from Brown University in 2014 with a degree in Anthropology, writing her honors thesis on LGBTQ+ immigration activism and asylum. Prior to law school, she worked as a Strategy Manager for the International Rescue Committee, where she furthered her interest in issues of global migration and displacement and shaped the organization's strategic planning process to better serve refugees and asylum-seekers across its worldwide program offices. Previously, she served as the Deputy Director of Policy for Mayor Jorge Elorza in Providence, Rhode Island, where her core focus was designing programs and policies to promote educational equity for Providence youth.

In law school, Lily has focused on direct services and civil rights litigation to challenge punitive legal systems. She has interned with Oasis Legal Services in their LGBTQ+ asylum program, American Friends Service Committee’s Immigration Detention Team, and the Legal Aid Society’s Special Litigation Unit in its Criminal Defense Practice. At NYU, Lily is student advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic, Constitutional Law teaching assistant, research assistant for Professor Adam Cox, and staff editor for the Review of Law and Social Change.

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Allison Hrabar

Coben Scholar

Raised in the Southwest, Allison graduated from Swarthmore College with degrees in Political Science and Film and Media Studies. Since 2017, she has volunteered with Stomp Out Slumlords (SOS), a Washington, DC campaign that supports tenants as they demand better treatment from their landlords. Working with SOS was a window into both the long history of militant tenant movements and the daily injustices at Landlord-Tenant court in DC. In 2019, Allison started as a paralegal/investigator for Neighborhood Legal Services Program’s eviction prevention project. At NLSP, she interviewed tenants facing eviction, documented their living conditions, and enforced their rights in court. She also sought to expand NLSP’s impact by building relationships between organizers, tenant leaders, and legal service providers. Allison plans to use her law degree to support tenant organizers fighting for safe and decent housing for all. 

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Humza Husain

Sinsheimer Service Scholar

Humza (they/them) graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in Philosophy, concentrating in Ethics. They are passionate about criminal justice reform, specifically with community-centric solutions, autonomy, and economic justice for marginalized groups. While studying at Northeastern, Humza worked for Saheli Boston, a local organization that serves immigrant survivors of domestic violence within the South Asian community in Massachusetts. At Saheli, they worked on the ground directly under advocates, led grant writing projects, and created a guide to US Immigration law for South Asians. They also have a deep interest in the experiences of incarcerated people, and interned for Harvard’s Prison Legal Assistance Project as well as the Federal Defenders of NY. At Harvard, they spearheaded an initiative to uncover disciplinary policies from county jails through public records requests; most of their time was spent corresponding with incarcerated and accused people to provide free legal aid and research. They to utilize the privilege of a law degree to provide accessible civil legal services for marginalized groups, especially queer people of color.

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Bailey Jackson

Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar

Bailey grew up in Washington, D.C. In 2016, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with majors in Global Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies and a minor in Social and Economic Justice. After graduating, she moved to New York City to work as a Legal Administrative Assistant at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project which ignited her interest in legal work. Wanting to gain work experience in the criminal legal system before applying to law school, she transitioned to a job at the Legal Aid Society as a Paralegal Casehandler in the Parole Revocation Defense Unit. In this role, she assisted public defenders in the representation of clients arrested for parole violations. Bailey came to law school to work as a public defender, and she is passionate about racial justice and prison and police abolition.

During her 1L year, Bailey co-founded NYU Parole Advocacy along with four classmates. NYU Parole Advocacy pairs law student volunteers with people incarcerated in New York State prisons to assist them in preparation for their Parole Board hearings. It is a project within the Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) student group for which Bailey is a board member. Bailey spent her 1L summer in Atlanta, GA at Georgia Resource Center assisting staff attorneys and investigators in the post-conviction representation of clients on Georgia's Death Row. This school year, Bailey is a student advocate in the Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic and a Paul Weiss Student Fellow with The Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law.

Bailey is grateful for the opportunities NYU Law has provided to further explore her interest in the criminal legal system and build community with similarly motivated classmates.

Keiana James Headshot

Keiana James

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

Keiana was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY by a blended family of New Yorkers and Jamaican immigrants. She graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science, French, and International Relations from Amherst College in 2016, finishing her studies by writing a French thesis entitled “Living in the Imaginary: An Exploration of Liminality Within Cahier d’un retour au pays natal and L’Énigme du retour.” This allowed her to infuse her own experience as a first-generation American living in various communities into a literary analysis of texts at the intersections of Blackness, home, and belonging. At NYU, she hopes to bring these experiences into her work with the Immigrant Rights Clinic. Additionally, she is a part of BALSA, the Law and Political Economy Association, CoLR, EPIC, the Review of Law and Social Change, and a Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Fellow. Keiana looks forward to using her legal education to continue to build an intersectional understanding of the carceral systems in place in the United States, while working towards their abolition in order to create an anti-oppressive system, and ultimately a new social contract.

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Yeji Jung

Starr Foundation Scholar

Yeji Jung (she/they) was born in Seoul and raised primarily outside Dallas/occupied Caddo land. A diasporic Corean now settling on stolen land in the so-called U.S., they are continuously learning their histories and connecting with their ancestors. Grounded in these lineages, they connect the land struggle on the Corean peninsula to land struggles everywhere, especially where they reside, and join movements for liberation with a growing understanding of Indigenous sovereignty as environmental justice in the face of the global climate/capitalist crisis.

In their time on occupied Ohlone land/in the Bay Area, Yeji began learning how to organize for justice through campaigns for ethnic studies, housing justice, and more. They graduated from Stanford University in 2018 with a B.A. in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. For their 1L summer, they returned to Ohlone land and worked at the Sustainable Economies Law Center to support the land rematriation work of Sogorea Te' Land Trust. They strive to show up for community in various roles, including artist, facilitator, Corean political pungmul drummer, and gardener learning Corean farming.

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Jessi LaChance

WilmerHale Scholar

Jessi LaChance (she/her) grew up in Nixa, Missouri. She is a first generation college graduate from the University of Chicago, where she graduated with a degree in Law, Letters, and Society in 2014 and a Master’s degree in social work in 2015. From a young age she has been interested in the criminal legal system and abolishing the carceral state, a passion that was inspired her own family’s experience with incarceration. After graduating with her Master’s degree she spent some time working as a social worker for The Exoneration Project in Chicago. She then moved to New York where she was a research associate for the Vera Institute of Justice. There she focused primarily on research around solitary confinement, jail populations, and prison conditions. Her work with people in solitary confinement and on death row in Louisiana was most influential in her decision to pursue a law degree. Most recently, Jessi completed her 1L internship with Orleans Public Defenders in Louisiana. In addition to her work, Jessi volunteers with the Parole Preparation Project in New York, has two of the cutest dogs ever, enjoys getting out of the city to hike whenever possible, and likes to knit and cross stitch in her free time.

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Zakiya Lewis

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

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Zakiya (she/her) grew up in Boston, Massachusetts with her mother as part of a large, working-class West Indian extended family. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 2015 with a B. A. in Sociology and African American Studies. While at Harvard, much of her experience centered on the black community, both through student group organizations, and also through activism in the social justice movements that defined her time there. She wrote her senior thesis on the emerging phenomenon of “Black Twitter,” and received the Cornel West Prize for her work and academic accomplishments. Zakiya worked extensively with Harvard’s student-run non-profit, The Phillips Brooks House Association as a volunteer, counselor, and later co-director of one of its summer academic programs for low-income children in her hometown of Dorchester. After college, she continued to pursue her interest in education reform as a middle school science, math, and special education teacher with KIPP DC for five years. While teaching, she earned her Master’s degree in Education Policy and Leadership from American University in 2018. As a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar, Zakiya is excited learn how to utilize the law to impact systemic inequalities and continue to advocate for marginalized and underrepresented communities.

At NYU, Zakiya is a staff editor on the Review of Law and Social Change Journal and a lawyering TA. She spent spent her 1L summer at Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, a holistic public defense organization, working in both their Family Defense and Criminal Defense Practices.

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Yulanda Lui

Yulanda Lui is from Toronto, Ontario and graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2017 as a Loran Scholar with a BA in Gender, Race, Sexuality & Social Justice and a minor in Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies. Prior to law school, Yulanda co-founded Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice, a non-profit organization in Vancouver, BC's Downtown Eastside and Chinatown which provides and advocates for linguistic and cultural access to health and social services, and fosters the leadership of youth and immigrant elders. At NYU Law, Yulanda is a Birnbaum Women's Leadership Fellow, staff editor of the Journal of International Law and Politics, Co-Director of the NYU International Refugee Assistance Project, and 2L Leadership Co-Chair of the Women of Color Collective. During her 1L summer, she was an International Law and Human Rights Fellow at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. Yulanda is a strong believer that relationships are at the core of social change and she hopes to use her JD to develop and advance community-centered approaches to global human rights.

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Justin McCarroll

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

Justin graduated from Emory University in 2017 with a degree in Philosophy and African American Studies. As an undergraduate, Justin was involved in advocating for social change and community growth with other student leaders. He was the President of Emory’s National Pan-Hellenic Council, helped charter Emory’s Black Pre-Law Society, and was chosen to participate in the creation of Emory’s Commission on Racial and Social Justice.

His undergraduate experiences led him to nonprofit work after graduation. Working for InCommunity, Justin had the privilege of developing a volunteer program, advocating for disability rights, and speaking at churches and schools about the organization. He also joined a small group of graduate students, teachers, and community activists which would later become the Fulton County Remembrance Coalition. FCRC worked with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to bring together community members to raise awareness of the history of racial violence in Atlanta and commemorate more than 30 documented victims of lynching in Fulton County, Georgia. Justin hopes to use his legal training to fight for criminal justice reform and protect the civil liberties of marginalized and disenfranchised Americans.

This past summer, Justin worked for the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, a unique nonprofit law office that provides a holistic legal defense for children in Louisiana. Justin is a member of NYU’s Civil Rights Clinic, a staff editor for the Review of Law and Social Change and serves as BALSA’s Political Action Chair.

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Lisa Meehan

Dr. Milton and Fradie Kramer Scholar

Lisa (she/her) grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains on the coast of central California. She graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University with a triple major in Spanish, Community Health, and International Relations. Prior to matriculating at NYU, Lisa worked for three years as a legal assistant with the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, where she worked with low-income DC residents to obtain safety-net benefits including Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, and SSI.

While at NYU, Lisa has interned with Oasis Legal Services, where she worked with LGBTQ+ immigrants on affirmative asylum applications, and with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, where she worked with adolescents facing felony charges. At NYU, she is involved in the Ending the Prison Industrial Complex Advocacy Project and the Solitary Confinement Project. Lisa is also a Teaching Assistant for the Lawyering program, and a student advocate in NYU's Family Defense Clinic.

Lisa hopes to work directly with communities towards dismantling systems of oppression, and to use her law degree to stand up to state violence in its myriad forms.

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Ari Pomerantz

Andrew W. Mellon Scholar

Ari Pomerantz grew up in Washington, D.C. Before law school, he spent many years doing prisoner solidarity work with incarcerated trans people. Ari previously worked at HIPS, a sex workers' rights organization, doing harm reduction and community health work with unhoused trans people and sex workers. He also co-designed and facilitated a community organizing and political education fellowship for LGBTQ youth and researched trans employment discrimination for the D.C. government. After relocating to Boston, he worked at Kavod, organizing Jewish young adults around racial and disability justice issues. Ari spent his 1L summer interning at the Sustainable Economies Law Center. He provided legal support work for organizations that liberate land and create homes and healing spaces for unhoused and BIPOC queer and trans people. He is excited to continue to do transactional law to further reparations and land back movements.

Zaynab Said

Zaynab Said

William and Mary Sterling Scholar

Zaynab (she/her) is a second-year student at NYU Law. Originally from Somalia, she immigrated to Georgia at a young age and spent majority of her life in metro-Atlanta. In December 2019, Zaynab graduated from Emory University with a BA in History with a concentration in law, economics, and human rights and Arabic. While at Emory, her interest in working in advocacy/organizing spaces with impacted communities, particularly with low-income communities of color, was further solidified through her experience serving as community outreach assistant for the City of Atlanta’s Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and her internships with Congressman Hank Johnson’s district office and Congressman John Lewis’ Washington, D.C. office.

At NYU Law, Zaynab is also a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar and serves as Co-Chair for the Black Allied Law Students Association (BALSA), Diversity and Inclusion Chair for the Public Interest Law Students Association (PILSA), and is a student advocate with the Immigrant Rights Clinic. Zaynab spent her 1L summer interning at the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU. Outside of school Zaynab enjoys cooking, running, and rewatching Flavor of Love.

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Rebecca Schectman

Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children, and Families

Rebecca (she/her) grew up in Charlottesville, VA and graduated in 2016 from the College of William and Mary. Before entering law school, Rebecca worked as a paralegal and Accredited Representative with the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) at Brooklyn Defender Services, where she helped provide universal immigration representation to detained New Yorkers. Rebecca has also worked as a paralegal in NYC public schools where she provided free immigration legal screenings and know-your-rights information to students and their families. From 2016-2017, Rebecca worked with UNHCR Malaysia and Tenaganita, a migrant rights organization, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as a Luce Scholar. Her work there focused on fighting police extortion and detention of refugees as well as advocacy supporting migrant women workers’ campaigns.

Rebecca spent her 1L summer interning with Community Justice Project where she supported a team of movement lawyers working with grassroots organizers in South Florida. At NYU, Rebecca serves on the board of the National Lawyers Guild and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC). She is a student advocate with NYU’s Immigrant Rights Clinic and a staff editor on the Review of Law and Social Change.

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Daad Sharfi

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

Daad Sharfi is a 2L from Chicago by way of Sudan. She graduated in 2017 from Yale University with a B.A. in Ethnicity, Race and Migration, and Economics. Upon graduating, Daad joined the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs where she conducted research on income inequality in Southwestern PA, factors leading to out-migration of Black residents from the region, and funding models for affordable housing, and coordinated a food entrepreneur project. Afterwards, she began working as an accredited representative and Community Fellow at Immigrant Justice Corps, where she represented primarily low-income immigrants throughout NY on legal matters ranging from adjustment of status and naturalization to asylum and temporary protected status. This summer, Daad interned at Just Futures Law, a non-profit that partners with immigrant and racial justice organizers to disrupt the criminalization and deportation of immigrants using innovative legal strategies and movement lawyering. At NYU, she serves as the Co-Chair of Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) and Co-coordinator of NYU Parole Advocacy. Daad will also be participating in the Immigrant Rights Clinic this year. She hopes to use her law degree to work at the intersection of criminal and immigration law, alongside immigrant communities.

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Austin Thierry

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

Austin is an educator, dancer, and storyteller from Oxnard, CA. Navigating public high school after being homeschooled by his working mother and later attending UC Berkeley as a first-generation college student influenced his desire to work against inequality and injustice in the education system. At UC Berkeley, Austin’s studies in Political Economy focused on how U.S. domestic and international policies led to the problems he saw in his community and around the world. Austin’s work with various education and social justice organizations inspired him to pursue a career in immigration law. In 2016, Austin began working as a legal assistant at a law firm in San Francisco, CA where he primarily served LGBTQ asylum seekers from Mexico and Central America. Later that year, he began volunteering as an ESL instructor at the local service workers union hall in Oakland, CA. Seeing how education and social services can help immigrants through and beyond their immigration cases motivated Austin to attend law school and learn more about the impact attorneys can have as members of a wider community of people working to protect each other from harm inflicted by the state.

During his 1L summer, Austin interned at the New Orleans Public Defender’s office where he assisted attorneys with hearing preparation, case synthesis, and coordination with clients, witnesses, parole officers, and other third parties. As a 2L, Austin will be joining the Immigrant Rights Clinic and serving as the Diversity and Outreach Coordinator for the Suspension Representation Project. Austin is also a member of the Coalition on Law and Representation, the Black Allied Law Student’s Association, and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC).

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Celine Zhu

Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar

Celine (she/her) was raised in Calgary, Alberta and bouncing around the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. The proud daughter of two Chinese immigrants—a contractor, who taught her grit; and a paralegal, who taught her the law’s power—she is interested in using her legal education to safeguard and further the rights of marginalized groups, particularly surrounding issues affecting immigrant and low-income women. Celine attended Barnard College, where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Political Science. She served as Treasurer and Vice-President of her class, as well as President of the Columbia University Pre-Law Society, focusing in both roles on improving accessibility for low-income students. During her spare time, Celine enjoyed serving as a volunteer college counselor to low-income students through Matriculate and coaching a local middle school debate team. While at Barnard, Celine interned for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Clinton Foundation, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Pro Bono team at Proskauer Rose, and the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Appeals Bureau. Celine spent her 1L summer doing reproductive policy research at the National Institute for Reproductive Health.

Class of 2024

Ira Berkley

Ira Berkley

Coben Scholar

Ira Berkley grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. Ira attended Oberlin College, where they were active in campus arts and activism and interned with various LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations and public interest law firms. After graduating from Oberlin College in 2018, Ira moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Ira joined The Southern Center for Human Rights as an Intake Specialist through Quaker Voluntary Service, a year-long fellowship at the intersection of spirituality and activism for young adults. As an Intake Specialist Ira corresponded with incarcerated individuals and their loved ones and advocated on their behalf before the parole board. After completing their fellowship, Ira remained at The Southern Center for Human Rights as a Public Policy Associate, which allowed them the opportunity to work with coalition partners to move forward groundbreaking legislation and research local criminal-legal policy issues.

Ira was deeply inspired by the trusting and constructive relationships between lawyers and the broader community that they witnessed while working with The Southern Center for Human Rights, and they are eager to learn more about the theory and practice of movement lawyering while at NYU Law. After law school, Ira intends to use their legal training to support radical movements at the intersections of prison abolition and environmental justice.

Kelsey Brown

Kelsey Brown

Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children, and Families

Kelsey Brown was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She attended Vanderbilt University as a Chancellor Scholar, where she double majored in sociology and political science with a concentration in political theory. Beginning her sophomore year, she interned at the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center, leading monthly discussions on feminism and the intersections with various social justice issues. During her time there, she encouraged her peers to include and center the experiences of Black women in their conversations on feminism. Though Kelsey always knew she wanted to attend law school, her internship at the Dekalb Solicitor General’s Office confirmed for her that the current structure of our legal system perpetuates and reproduces inequalities. These experiences led her to intern at the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia in the Reproductive Rights and Justice Department. In response to the now struck down abortion ban and the maternal mortality crisis in GA, she created and led a monthly discussion program called Reproductive Justice Learning Hours where community members could discuss a variety of issues, like immigration and the criminal punishment system, and analyze them through a Reproductive Justice Lens. Kelsey is incredibly passionate about political education and teaching people about the power of Black feminist theory. Since graduating in May of 2021, Kelsey has worked at Fair Fight Action on the Voter Protection team, helping to share voters’ stories in order to advance voting rights on a national scale. She hopes to use her law education to be active in transforming our legal system to advance liberation for all people and to anticipate underserved communities’ needs rather than responding to the scarcity justice.

Blair Childs-Biscoe

Blair Childs-Biscoe

Starr Foundation Scholar

Blair (they/she) was raised between the DC metro area and St. Thomas, USVI. They are pursuing a legal career to provide strategic support to marginalized peoples and their movements, hoping to one day become a community or movement lawyer. They graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in International Affairs and Economics, and a minor in Law & Public Policy. As an undergraduate, Blair deepened their interest in social justice as a political education coordinator for Students Against Institutional Discrimination, which gave them the seeds of an abolitionist, Black queer feminist politic. In 2018 they created a research project to study Black trans and queer space and activism in DC over time, during which they interviewed nearly 30 activists, organizers and space creators and began an ongoing digital archive. Through this project, Blair solidified that their work must be guided by community-led efforts, facilitate radical imagination, and center Black trans and queer folks. Following graduation Blair worked as a paralegal at Whitman-Walker Health in DC, supporting LGBTQ+ and HIV+ people with legal name and gender changes and getting access to health insurance. At NYU Law, Blair is excited to explore their interest in environmental justice and continue to refine their understanding of a lawyer’s role in radical change.

Yvonne Diabene

Yvonne Diabene

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

Yvonne emigrated from Ghana to Pennsylvania at the age of fifteen, and discerning that social and economic issues transcend geography, she developed a passion for social service and social justice work. As an undergraduate student at Brown University in Providence, R.I., she studied Public Policy, exploring questions, policies, and social movements about civil rights and liberties and economic (in)justice. Through the Engaged Scholars Program, she worked directly with various community members in the socio-political sphere advocating for better policies in education, immigration, and labor laws. She supported lobbying and legislative analysis work on immigration and wage theft at Fuerza Laboral, a local labor union in Central Falls, R.I. She later spent a semester working to advance voting rights, criminal justice, and fair 2020 Census policies at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in D.C. Yvonne’s work at The Leadership Conference influenced her Capstone paper titled “Civil Asset Forfeiture: Unconstitutional Yet Legal Property Seizure by Law Enforcement” and fortified her interest in impact litigation, civil rights, and constitutional law.

Prior to law school, Yvonne spent two years working with federal agencies on health equity programs and initiatives, supporting local nonprofits with pro bono strategy work, and assisting low-income high school students with college preparedness. Yvonne’s future aspirations in the legal profession include engaging in legislative and social advocacy by utilizing the law as a tool for equity and justice.

Olivia Fritz

Olivia Fritz

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

Olivia is originally from Chicago, IL and grew up just outside the city. In 2018, she graduated from Stanford University with a BA in International Relations. During college, she interned at a financial literacy nonprofit in Chicago and completed a Haas Center for Public Service Urban Summer Fellowship at the Los Angeles branch of Year Up, a national workforce development nonprofit. For her commitment to public service, Olivia was selected as a member of the Public Service Honor Society. After graduation, she interned on the press team in U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth’s Chicago office before starting a two-year paralegal program at Relman Colfax PLLC, a civil rights law firm based in Washington, DC. At the firm, she worked on various fair housing, disability justice, police accountability, and employment discrimination cases. Olivia hopes to use her legal education to advocate on behalf of marginalized communities and expand access to housing, education, and employment opportunities.

Alijah Futterman

Alijah Futterman

Sinsheimer Service Scholar 

Alijah grew up on the south side of Chicago. She received a B.A. in Sociology at Stanford University, concentrating in data science, markets, and management and a minor in Spanish. During her time at Stanford, Alijah researched alternatives to carceral punishment and the traditional justice system. Through a Leadership Alliance fellowship at Columbia University, she designed a study about how restorative justice principles translated to practice at youth court in Harlem, and after her sophomore year of college, Alijah interviewed kids involved in the juvenile justice system and restorative justice programs. Following her research experiences, Alijah began to work within the legal system to advocate with communities who are oppressed by the systemic injustices entrenched in our laws. She interned with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division — Immigrant and Employee Rights Section through Stanford in Washington, and before her senior year of college, she was a judicial intern for Hon. Jorge L. Alonso in the Northern District of Illinois. After graduating from Stanford, Alijah worked as a legal assistant  for Medina Orthwein LLP, a civil rights law firm in Oakland, where she worked on race discrimination class action lawsuits and civil rights lawsuits on behalf of transgender people housed in California prisons.

Thao Ho

Thao Ho
Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar

Thao Ho was born and raised in Dorchester, a neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from Tufts University with a BA in American Studies and Community Health, then served as a paralegal and community organizer in a joint position with Greater Boston Legal Services’ Asian Outreach Unit, Asian American Resource Workshop, and VietAID. 

Growing up in a predominantly immigrant community, Thao witnessed her neighbors fiercely protect and celebrate her neighborhood despite facing challenges of gentrification, deportation, and over-policing. As a paralegal and community organizer, Thao worked to build the local power of Vietnamese nail salon workers and Southeast Asian community members facing deportation in Massachusetts. Moving forward, Thao hopes to use her legal education to provide accessible direct services to community members and support local grassroots organizing through a movement lawyering framework.

Vanessa Holman

Vanessa Holman

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

Vanessa grew up in West Orange, NJ. She graduated cum laude with Distinction from Yale College in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a concentration in Neuroscience. While at Yale, she researched aging biases, connected indigent New Haven citizens to social services, and wrote her thesis broadly on the shortfalls of mental health law, titled "A review of the neuropsychological factors of antisocial behavior: Implications for the judicial system." She also served as a Board Member for the Black Solidarity Conference at Yale and Vice President of Mind Matters. After college, Vanessa worked with the Center for Court Innovation in both Brooklyn and Manhattan Criminal Courts, exploring the effects of procedural justice, restorative justice, community courts, treatment courts, and alternatives to incarceration and pre-trial detention. With CCI, she helped equip the disenfranchised with tools to surmount their own hurdles and regain agency in the legal process. At NYU, Vanessa will continue to use the law as a tool of empowerment and shape a career fighting for a legal system that works for the needs of all people. As a lawyer, she hopes to make contributions to several areas of public policy and public interest, from criminal justice reform and racial equality, to healthcare access, to environmental policy, to international human rights.

Jahnavi Jagannath

Jahnavi Jagannath

Dr. Milton and Fradie Kramer Scholar

Jahnavi Jagannath (she/her) is a native of Memphis, Tennessee and a resident of Washington, DC. She has worked as a policy analyst at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center since 2018, and before that was a field organizer on a senate campaign in Texas. Prior to that, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Policy Studies with a minor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

She is interested in exploring and creating new forms of safety outside of prisons and police, investing in community care and reducing reliance on the carceral system. Jahnavi is also a visual artist and vocal musician, and enjoys spending time outdoors, coming up with new vegetarian recipes, and learning about the natural world.

Sang-Min Kim

Sang-Min Kim

Born in South Korea, Sang-Min grew up in Los Angeles. He graduated magma cum laude from UC Berkeley in 2020, majoring in political science and with a minor in public health, as a Gates Millennium scholar and Phi Beta Kappa member. During college, he served as a project manager and as a 2020 Human Rights Fellow at UC Berkeley School of Law’s Human Rights Center, where he investigated and verified war crimes and human rights atrocities through open source intelligence. Kim was also a Law Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School’s Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) Fellowship program, an intern at the San Francisco’s District Attorney Office, and an open source fellow at the United Nations, where he conducted confidential legal projects surrounding Myanmar. He began his career by working on reunifying Korean divided families, which shaped his journey into one of public service. And right before law school, Kim was selected as a Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow at the Arms Control Association, where he worked on the nonproliferation portfolio which mainly involved projects related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. He hopes to use his education and career to empower neglected and marginalized stories, human rights, and accountability in foreign policy.

Kaya Lawrence

Kaya Lawrence

Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Kaya is a 2021 graduate of the University of Notre Dame where she studied Political Science, Global Affairs, and International Peace Studies. A Posse Scholar, Kaya was awarded a full-tuition, merit-and-leadership based scholarship to attend Notre Dame and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts. While at Notre Dame, Kaya served as the Director of Diversity & Inclusion for Student Government where she developed policy and programming focused on promoting the spirit of inclusion and improving the experience of belonging for all students on campus.  Kaya also served as President of Shades of Ebony- an organization founded by Black women at Notre Dame to unify, empower, and inspire women of all shades through engaging dialogue and service in the local community. As a Gilman International Scholar, Kaya studied abroad in Italy where she interned with the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center and worked to prepare refugees and asylum seekers for the workforce and informed them of their rights as workers. During her summers at Notre Dame, Kaya took part in internships that greater exposed her to the nuances of the criminal justice system- including with the Orleans Public Defenders Office and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. In Washington, D.C., she also completed a service internship with the Father McKenna Center- a day program for men experiencing homelessness. These experiences have all culminated to shape Kaya’s passion for addressing institutional racism and systemic inequality in the criminal justice system. She hopes to use her legal education to develop the skills and expertise needed to implement systemic change within the system.

Tamara Matheson

Tamara Matheson

Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar

Tamara was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica and primarily raised in Florida. She attended Swarthmore College graduating in 2018 with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Black Studies. While at Swarthmore, she interned at a number of nonprofits, becoming and became interested in conversations around reproductive rights and justice. This led her to the Center for Reproductive Rights after graduation, where she learned more about the contributions of both litigation and policy work to the reproductive justice movement. In 2019, Tamara joined the ACLU of Washington State’s Information and Referral program. During her time at the ACLU, Tamara helped lead the IRP program’s transition from “Intake” to a name and community-facing language more reflective of the program’s goals and the community’s needs. Tamara hopes to use her legal education to follow in the footsteps of those she has learned from — using the law as one tool to shape equitable policies and institutions for those who have been denied them time and again.

Helina Meressa

Helina Meressa

WilmerHale Scholar

Helina (she/her) is from Alexandria, Virginia and is a first generation Ethiopian American. In 2018, she graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Global Development Studies and Foreign Affairs. She decided she wanted to attend law school after her work at the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, an organization that provides pro bono legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence and gender-based violence. As the Program Manager of the Immigration Practice, she interviewed potential clients and provided paralegal assistance to volunteer attorneys throughout the duration of their cases. She was drawn to the legal field after serving as a Family Advocate at a transitional housing program for immigrant and refugee families through AmeriCorps. She has also worked with the Young Center, collaborating with the social worker and lawyer of a newly-arrived unaccompanied minor being held in a detention center. Helina is interested in continuing her immigration work, but hopes to explore the intersection between immigration and criminal law while at NYU.

Liam Riley

Liam Riley

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

Liam is a proud Midwesterner from Minneapolis, MN. While studying at Yale University to receive his B.A in African-American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, he served as a public service fellow working with various New Haven organizations that focus on youth service and empowerment. Upon graduation, Liam returned home to serve his Americorps year at Rebound Inc., a rehabilitation and mentorship-based organization that runs group homes and programs for court-involved youth. He served as a behavioral and educational supporter and advocate for Rebound residents, and discovered his passion for the law working with those residents as they weathered the COVID-19 pandemic and murder of George Floyd. Since the completion of his service year, he has worked for the City of Minneapolis elections board and as a mental health associate at a short-term care unit. Liam hopes to use his legal education to promote juvenile justice and take a trauma-informed approach to juvenile criminal practice and advocacy.

Sahil Singhvi

Sahil Singhvi

Sahil Singhvi graduated from Wesleyan University in 2018 with a BA in Economics, Sociology, and an interdisciplinary program called the College of Social Studies. Sahil was a writing tutor at the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education, where he worked with incarcerated men pursuing their Associate’s Degrees. Sahil also served as a research assistant for Prof. Lori Gruen, conducting primary source research on transformation and change during incarceration. He wrote his undergraduate thesis in the form of a novella, exploring the conferral of legal and political rights to over-policed subjects of an imagined surveillance state. His thesis received high honors and earned Sahil the Hallowell Prize for outstanding work in the study of social studies.


After graduating from Wesleyan, Sahil spent a year as an intern investigator with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, where he assisted staff with fact-finding efforts and trial preparation for felony cases. He spent the subsequent two years at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law as a Research and Program Associate in the Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. Sahil’s work focused on the protection of civil rights and civil liberties in the policing and national security spheres, and in particular on the implications of surveillance on the First Amendment rights of protesters. Sahil hopes to use his law degree to protect the rights of marginalized people everywhere.
 

Briana Thomas

Briana Thomas

Andrew W. Mellon Scholar

Briana Thomas was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. As a native New Yorker whose family is from Trinidad and Tobago, she is very passionate about issues affecting BIPOC communities. She received her B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Economics from Georgetown University in 2021. During her undergraduate career, she held leadership roles in cultural affinity organizations, tutoring programs, and worked for the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access. She was also influential in reshaping the Sociology department at Georgetown in addition to other organizing efforts. Academically, she completed a senior thesis that explored healthcare discriminatory practices and their internal effect of health and wellness on Black women. Her previous professional experiences include interning with PR2 Politics, The Office of Barack and Michelle Obama, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Throughout all experiences, she worked on issue areas consisting of voting rights, educational equity, and immigration policy. She is primarily interested in education policy, criminal legal system reform, and juvenile justice. In her free time, she loves to dance, listen to music, try new food, swim, dig deeper into her astrology interests, and hang out with friends and her family.

Ry Walker

Ry Walker

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

Ry Walker was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. In 2020, she graduated cum laude from Yale University with a degree in Astrophysics and African American Studies. While in college, she organized with students fighting for a campus safe from sexual misconduct and for fairer financial aid policies. In her academic work, she wrote about the role of NYC school police officers in the implementation of broken windows policing and the implications of surveillance technology in schools for students of color. In her summers, Ry interned for Girls for Gender Equity and the National Women's Law Center where she studied issues of educational equity for girls of color, including the impact of dress code policies and the history of school police brutality. Prior to matriculating to NYU, Ry worked as the Digital and Program Associate for PowHer New York, helping to organize events and write reports for the coalition of gender justice organizations.

Yimeng Wang

Yimeng Wang

William and Mary Sterling Scholar

Yimeng was born in 西安 and is a settler/immigrant currently located on Treaty 13 land, the Traditional Territories of the Anishinaabe peoples, Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. They graduated from the Arts & Science Program at McMaster University in 2021 with a Combination in Political Science and a Certificate for Applied Ethics and Policy. During their time in university, Yimeng received an Undergraduate Student Research Award allowing them to investigate how community art practices and embodied knowledges facilitate healing among queer and disabled East Asian settlers. At McMaster, they were the Coordinator of the Women and Gender Equity Network (WGEN), a student-run peer support service centring the needs of survivors of sexual violence, folks under the trans umbrella, and all individuals who experience gender-based oppression. Yimeng worked with students, institutional offices, and community organizations to develop programming that created safer spaces for these communities and helped challenge colonial cisheterosexist structures of harm. Yimeng has also been involved in organizing efforts throughout the local community, deepening their understanding of land-based knowledge to support food sovereignty/security in Indigenous and settler communities. Their involvement in community-led activism has helped them develop a strong belief in the necessity of solidarity, transformative justice, and collective care in creating more inclusive futures for everyone.

Ashley Williams

Ashley Williams

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

Ashley (she/her) is from Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a citizen of Cherokee Nation. Ashley attended the University of Texas at Austin where she triple-majored in Business Honors, Finance, and African and African Diaspora Studies. Following earning a Master of Social Science from the University of California Los Angeles, Ashley joined the Center for Public Policy Priorities where she advocated for equitable state higher education policy—stewarding the passage of two state laws to improve college access and student debt in the state. Ashley also worked as an organizer and elected negotiator for the unionization and inaugural Collective Bargaining Agreement in her workplace. Ashley plans utilize her legal education to continue her passion for working at the intersection of race and economic equity to drive systemic change.