Public Interest Law Center

Current Scholars

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.

Julia Harvey Headshot

Julia Harvey

Coben Scholar

Julia Harvey is passionate about addressing health disparities and promoting equal access to health care. At NYU, Julia is a member of the New York Office of the Attorney General Social Justice Clinic, in the Civil Rights Bureau. She also serves as Chair of the HIV Law Society, a student volunteer with Housing Works Legal Services, and a Staff Development Editor for NYU’s Review of Law and Social Change. She spent her 1L summer at the Medicare Rights Center. In that role, she advocated on behalf of individuals who were unable to access the health care services they needed to live full, healthy lives. She also advocated against harmful federal policies that would hurt Medicare beneficiaries, with a focus on LGBTQ seniors. In her 2L summer, Julia will serve as a legal intern at Health Law Advocates in Boston.

Originally from Lincoln, RI, Julia 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. Immediately 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.

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

Headshot Daniel Lee

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.  

Headshot Max Markham

Max Markham

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

Max is a native New Yorker and a longtime resident of East Harlem. Prior to law school, he worked for six years in politics and local government, most recently serving as the inaugural Chief of Staff in the Mayor’s Office of Policy & Planning, and as Legislative and Special Projects Manager to the First Deputy Mayor. In the de Blasio administration, he gained experience working on federal, state and local legislation related to criminal justice and public safety, infrastructure, education and cultural affairs. At NYU, Max chaired the Black Allied Law Students Association (BALSA) and served on the executive board of the American Constitution Society. He has completed internships at a range of criminal justice and civil rights organizations, including the civil rights bureau of the Attorney General’s Office, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, spending his 2L summer at the latter. Max is a 2012 graduate of Stanford University with a major in International Relations. He hopes to use his time in law school and skills gained from city and state government to help address systemic inequality and structural racism in the criminal justice system that lead to over-policing, mass incarceration and disenfranchisement.

Headshot Kate McMurchie

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.

Ihab Mikati Headshot

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.

Headshot Anna Nassiff

Anna Nassiff

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

Anna is passionate about holistic advocacy for immigrant communities. She grew up in rural New England and graduated from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 2014 with a B.A. in Geography. As an undergrad, Anna extensively researched transformative placemaking by immigrant communities in the Twin Cities. She was an ecological researcher based out of rural Northwest Arkansas immediately after graduation. For the four years prior to law school, Anna lived in New Mexico, where she was a legal advocate with the Catholic Charities of Central New Mexico VAWA Immigration Project and then a Department of Justice Accredited Representative and Law Office Manager with the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC). During her time at NMILC, Anna managed pro se workshops, helped launch the first large-scale citizenship fairs in New Mexico, and worked with hundreds of families. She witnessed the immense impact of holistic advocacy, especially for people who have experienced trauma.

Anna believes that truly client-led services require flexible advocacy and a willingness to address the often-overlapping systems of oppression embedded in the legal system. In her 1L summer, Anna interned with Day One NY, providing family and immigration law services for young people. She was a student advocate in the NYU Family Defense Clinic. This past summer, Anna interned with the Legal Aid Society's Criminal Defense Project and Exploitation Intervention Project, providing criminal defense and immigration advocacy to people who experienced trafficking. She hopes to reduce trauma and provide holistic direct representation to the communities she serves.

Headshot Jaden Powell

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.

Headshot Diana Rosen

Diana Rosen

Diana grew up on the Southwest Side of Chicago and graduated from Yale University in 2016 with a degree in Ethics, Politics & Economics and a certificate in Education Studies. Before law school, Diana worked as a paralegal for the Federal Defenders in the Eastern District of New York. She also interned for the Chicago Teachers Union and Jobs With Justice during college. Diana plans to work at the intersection of criminal and immigration defense. At NYU, she is a student advocate in the Advanced Immigrant Rights Clinic and a Notes Editor on the NYU Law Review. During her 2L year she was an intake manager for the Suspension Representation Project and a Criminal Law teaching assistant. Diana spent her 1L summer at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, where she represented a teenage asylum seeker and participated in the Legal Orientation Program at the Northwest Detention Center. She interned at the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender her 2L summer, representing clients in detention hearings and assisting attorneys in briefing and arguing motions. Diana hopes to use her law degree to support movements and organizers in a direct service capacity.

Headshot Nhaca Le Schulze

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.

Headshot Jacqueline Uranga

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

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 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.

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.

Yosi Badie Headshot

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. At NYU, Yosi is co-chair of the Middle Eastern Law Students Association, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), and serves on the board for Law Students for Justice in Palestine and NYU-National Lawyers Guild. She's also a student advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic.

Muriel Carpenter Headshot

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.

Muriel Carpenter spent her 1L summer interning remotely at The Door: A Center of Alternatives. At The Door, she focused on family court filings for Special Immigrant Juvenile cases and wrote an organizational comment opposing the government’s proposed rule to drastically limit asylum. Muriel also worked as a research assistant to Professor Arthur R. Miller, updating and supplementing sections of Wright & Miller’s Federal Practice and Procedure treatise relating to federal court jurisdiction over non-U.S. citizens, foreign nations, and immigration orders.

Jessica Coffrin-St. Julien Headshot

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 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, where she graduated summa cum laude, and a Masters in the Sociology of Education from Steinhardt. At NYU Law, Jessica is a student advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic, a staff editor on the Review of Law and Social Change, a Torts teaching assistant, and a research assistant for Professor Adam Cox. During her 1L summer, she worked at Lutheran Social Services' Immmigration Legal Program, and as a research assistant for Professors Adam Cox and Jonathan Harris. Jessica believes in the transformative power of local, community-led work. As a lawyer, she hopes to support the collective survival of immigrant communities.

Jemie Fofanah Headshot

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.

Nardos Girma Headshot

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 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.

At NYU, Nardos is on the board of the Environmental Law Society, a staff editor on the Environmental Law Journal, a lawyering TA, and a research assistant at the Furman Center. Nardos spent her 1L summer at Housing Conservation Coordinators, a non-profit that advances social and economic justice, primarily through affordable housing, for low income New Yorkers on Manhattan’s West Side.

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.

Elena Hodges Headshot

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.

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.

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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, Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar, and Urban Law and Public Affairs Fellow at the New York University School of Law. 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, with a concentration in social policy and program evaluation, 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 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and was named a Baltimore City Mayoral Fellow.

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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.

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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.

During her 1L summer, Winnie was excited to return to the Asian Law Caucus as a law clerk for their workers' rights program and put what she had learned during her first year in law school to good use. At NYU, she is currently co-publicity chair for the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA) and is a board member of Law Students for Economic Justice (LSEJ). She is also a research assistant for Professor Jonathan Harris and is a student advocate in the New York State Office of the Attorney General Social Justice Externship in their Labor Division.

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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.

Class of 2023

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 Julia Bodson

Julia is a first-generation American committed to the fight for social justice. 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 in research about worker health and safety protections as well as disability rights. After half a decade in research positions, Julia transitioned to direct client services. She joined the inaugural cohort of Partners for Justice Advocates at the Office of Defense Services in Delaware. There, Julia became wedded to public defense work. She intends to leverage the opportunity and privilege of the Root-Tilden-Kern scholarship in her career as a Public Defender fighting against mass incarceration and the criminalization of race and poverty. She plans to integrate system-level advocacy informed by her quantitative background into individual representation of indigent clients.

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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

Matthew is from Chicago, IL, and graduated cum laude from Northwestern University in 2013 with a BA in Political Science and International Studies. As a first generation college graduate, Matthew was committed to improving educational outcomes for others. Upon graduating college, he joined Teach For America and started his career as a preschool teacher with Chicago Public Schools. In 2015, Matthew earned his MS in Early Childhood Education and Bilingual Education. Throughout his six years in the classroom, Matthew observed how his young students and their families confronted toxic stress and inequalities in the education, health, and immigration systems. This, in turn, drove Matthew to seek opportunities to affect change outside the classroom. In the summer of 2019, Matthew started a new job as a paralegal within Legal Aid Chicago’s Health Justice Project wherein he helps clients navigate health harming legal needs and social determinants of health. Matthew hopes to use his legal training to advocate for marginalized communities like those who he worked with as a teacher.

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Lily Gutterman

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

Lily is from Armonk, NY. She has worked on a range of social issues, with a particular interest in pursuing justice for immigrant communities and displaced people. She has served as Deputy Director of Policy for Mayor Jorge Elorza in Providence, Rhode Island, where she managed a diverse portfolio of local policy initiatives to support historically underserved residents. More recently, she served as Strategy Manager at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) where she helped develop their new strategic plan to expand services to refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants in crisis. Lily graduated from Brown University in 2014, where she studied Anthropology.

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Allison Hrabar

Coben Scholarship

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 graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in Philosophy, concentrating in Ethics. He is 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, he worked on the ground directly under advocates, led grant writing projects, and created a guide to US Immigration law for South Asians. He also has 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, he spearheaded an initiative to uncover disciplinary policies from county jails through public records requests; most of his time was spent corresponding with incarcerated and accused people to provide free legal aid and research. He hopes to utilize his law degree to provide accessible civil legal services in family or immigration law.

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Bailey Jackson

Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar

Bailey grew up in Washington, D.C. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in Global Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies. After graduating, she moved to New York City to work as a Legal Administrative Assistant at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. 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 is grateful for the valuable lessons she learned at Legal Aid, and she is excited to continue building on her understanding of the criminal legal system at NYU.

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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 York natives and Jamaican immigrants. She was accepted into Prep for Prep 9 in 2007, a rigorous 14-month academic preparatory program which brought her to boarding school in New Jersey prior to matriculating at Amherst College. During her time at Amherst, Keiana tutored at Girls Inc. of Holyoke through the Center for Community Engagement and was a Resident Counselor for a first-year dormitory. She spent a semester at NYU Paris ahead of writing a French thesis during her senior year entitled “Living in the Imaginary: An Exploration of Liminality Within Cahier d’un retour au pays natal and L’Énigme du retour,” which 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. She graduated cum laude in 2016 with a B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in identity politics, French, and a certificate in International Relations. Since graduation, Keiana has worked in Boston as a paralegal, most recently at a firm specializing in class-action lawsuits to combat the exploitative and inaccessible prices in the pharmaceutical industry. This allowed her to support multiple lawyers on various multi-year litigations, including an appeal to the Third Circuit regarding the public’s First Amendment and common law rights to access the courts. 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 Scholarship

Yeji Jung (she/they) is a Korean American cis woman born in Seoul and raised primarily outside Dallas/occupied Wichita land. A member of a middle-class immigrant family now settling on stolen land in the U.S., they are continuously learning their histories and connecting with their ancestors. Grounded in these lineages, they connect the land struggle on the Korean peninsula to land struggles everywhere, especially where they reside, and join movements for liberation with their 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 actions/campaigns for ethnic studies, housing justice, land rematriation, and other interrelated issues. Yeji graduated from Stanford University in 2018 with a B.A. in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity; then worked at the Institute for Diversity in the Arts supporting queer/trans artists of color; and at the National Center for Youth Law supporting education advocates for system-involved youth. They strive to show up for community in various roles, including artist, Korean political pungmul drummer, and gardener learning Korean farming.

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Jessi LaChance

WilmerHale Scholarship

Jessi LaChance 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. She also graduated with her Master’s degree from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration in 2015. From a young age she has been interested in the criminal justice system and abolition, 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. There she worked with attorneys to write reentry plans, mitigation reports, and psychosocial assessments for people wrongfully convicted and people serving juvenile life without parole sentences in Illinois. 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 video visitation. This position allowed her the ability to visit many facilities, analyze institutional data, and have in-person conversations with people inside prisons. 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 has been working to train and license foster parents in southwest Missouri, focusing on the importance of families of origin, reunification, and maintaining sibling placements. In addition to her work, Jessi volunteers with the Parole Preparation Project in New York and fosters dogs through rescue organizations.

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Zakiya Lewis

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

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Zakiya 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,” focusing on its historically relevant role as a refuge for black thought and expression, as well as its potential power as a mobilizing tool in these movements. She received the Cornel West Prize for her work and academic accomplishments. Through her studies and social activities, Zakiya discovered her passion for social justice, particularly in education reform. She 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 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.

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Yulanda Lui

Yulanda Lui is from Toronto, Ontario. She graduated from The University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2017 with a BA in Gender, Race, Sexuality & Social Justice and a minor in Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies, as a 2013 Loran Scholar. At UBC, she was the primary coordinator of The Pride Collective at UBC, organizing fellow student volunteers to support and improve the health and safety of queer and trans students. Yulanda Lui co-founded Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice, a non-profit organization in Vancouver, BC’s Downtown Eastside and Chinatown, that empowers youth and immigrant seniors to work together to improve their communities and to tackle the problems of poverty, racism, and violence. At Yarrow, Yulanda facilitated cultural and intergenerational healing and built leadership across the generations. She also filled gaps in the healthcare and social service systems, by training youth to provide support for low income Chinese immigrant seniors through language interpretation, social justice education, and community building. Yulanda is a strong believer that relationships are at the core of social change. She hopes to use her law degree to continue to empower her communities, to advocate for the rights of marginalized peoples, and to break down barriers to accessing health, education, social support, and justice. 

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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, an organization that supports adults with developmental disabilities, 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.

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Lisa Meehan

Dr. Milton and Fradie Kramer Scholarship

Lisa grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University in 2017 with majors in Spanish, Community Health, and International Relations. While at Tufts, Lisa focused her academic work and research on the intersection of women’s issues and public health. She culminated her studies with a senior honors thesis,“Associations between sexual assault and mental health outcomes for Tufts University undergraduates”, for which she earned highest thesis honors and the Bellin Award for Excellence in Community Health Research.

Prior to matriculating at NYU, Lisa worked for three years as a legal assistant with the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia in the public benefits practice. Lisa worked with low-income and primarily Spanish-speaking DC residents to obtain and maintain critical safety-net benefits including SSI, SSDI, Medicaid, TANF, and SNAP. She also coordinated Legal Aid’s annual Medicare Part D Enrollment Initiative, which each year helps over 200 elderly clients select prescription drug plans that meet their health needs.

Lisa’s time at Legal Aid shaped her perspective on how the law can be used as a tool in the fight for a more just and equitable society. She hopes to pursue a career in legal services or public defense to ensure her most vulnerable neighbors’ rights are upheld and their basic needs and dignities are met.

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Ari Pomerantz

Andrew W. Mellon Scholarship

Ari Pomerantz is a community organizer with over a decade of experience doing prisoner solidarity work with trans people in prison. After graduating from Swarthmore College in 2012, Ari supported individuals experiencing homelessness and HIV at HIPS, a sex workers' rights and harm reduction organization in Washington, D.C. During the same period, he co-designed and facilitated a community organizing and political education fellowship for LGBTQ youth. In 2015, Ari developed and ran the D.C. government's first employment discrimination study focused on trans people. After relocating to Boston, he worked at Kavod, organizing Jewish young adults around issues of racial and disability justice. Most recently, Ari spent two years studying Jewish law at Yeshivat Hadar, exploring the concept of reparations within Jewish thought.

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Zaynab Said

William and Mary Sterling Scholarship

Zaynab is excited to join NYU Law as a Root-Tilden Kern scholar. 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 direct services, particularly with low-income immigrants, was 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 plans to join the Black Allied Law Students Association (BALSA), First Generation Professionals (FGP), and looks forward to getting involved in clinics and other experiential learning opportunities.

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Rebecca Schectman

Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children, and Families

Rebecca grew up in Charlottesville, VA and graduated in 2016 from the College of William and Mary with a degree in International Relations and Latin American Studies. Before entering law school, Rebecca worked as a paralegal and Accredited Representative at Brooklyn Defender Services with the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), which provides universal legal representation to detained noncitizen New Yorkers. Rebecca has also worked as a paralegal in NYC public schools where she provided free immigration legal screenings and representation to students and parents. Rebecca spent a year working 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 is a Legal Observer with the National Lawyers Guild and remains engaged with organizers in the Charlottesville community. Rebecca looks forward to continuing her work at the intersection of criminal and immigration defense while also exploring movement lawyering as a way to support and build power of social justice organizers and grassroots movements.

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Daad Sharfi

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

Daad Sharfi is a poet and immigrant rights advocate from Chicago, by way of Sudan. In 2017, she graduated from Yale University where she double-majored in Economics and Ethnicity, Race and Migration. Upon graduating, Daad joined the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs to explore multi-sectorial social change. At Coro, she conducted research on income inequity in Southwestern PA, factors leading to out-migration of Black residents from the region, and funding models for affordable housing. She also coordinated a food entrepreneur project aimed at better understanding and uplifting the landscape of immigrant-owned food businesses in Pittsburgh. After completing her Coro fellowship, Daad began working as an accredited representative and Community Fellow at Immigrant Justice Corps. As an IJC fellow, she represents primarily low-income Arabic-speaking immigrants throughout NY on legal matters ranging from adjustment of status and naturalization to asylum and temporary protected status. Daad’s work has previously appeared in 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, the Women’s Poetry Workshop, the 2019 NYC Poetry Festival and the inaugural issue of the Sawti zine.

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Austin Thierry

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

Austin is from Oxnard, CA and has a B.A. in Political Economy from UC Berkeley. As an undergraduate, he became interested in understanding how the legacy of slavery and anti-black racism has influenced law and policy in the United States, especially in the areas of immigration and housing. This interest led him to work with various education and social justice organizations including Causa Justa Just Cause and East Bay Sanctuary Covenant where he was inspired 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 LGTBQ 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 holistic representation and the impact attorneys can have as members of a wider network of service providers.

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Celine Zhu

Sullivan & Cromwell Scholarship

Celine 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, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. The experiences most influential to Celine’s legal aspirations were through her internships with the Pro Bono team at Proskauer Rose and the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Appeals Bureau.