Scholars 2015

Allison Aguirre
USC Latino Alumni Association Scholar
USC Gould School of Law, Class of 2016
Allison was raised in the Inland Empire and graduated salutatorian of her high school.She received her B.A. in political science and communication from USC, where she served as an orientation advisor, residential government executive board member, and graduated magna cum laude. At USC Gould School of Law, Allison serves as the Editor-in-Chief for the Review of Law and Social Justice journal, executive board member for 1L mentors, and was the 2014-15 USC Latino Law Students Association chair. In spring 2015, she was a U.S.Attorney’s Office criminal division extern, and this summer, she will work for a private firm in Irvine. As a past OCDA domestic violence extern, Allison plans to be a family protection prosecutor.

Francisco Alcala
Comcast NBCUniversal Telemundo
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2016
Entertainment Scholar
Raised in Los Angeles by a single mother who emigrated from Mexico, Francisco endured many financial hardships while pursuing higher education. Francisco, a first generation college student, graduated from California State University Fullerton with his degree in finance while working multiple jobs to support himself. As an evening student at Southwestern, Francisco has served on Law Review, Dean’s Fellows, and as a teaching assistant while working full time as a paralegal. He has earned numerous awards including the Witkin Award for Academic Excellence, Dean Merit Scholarship, and the MABF scholarship. This summer, he will be a summer associate at a civil litigation firm. Francisco plans to practice entertainment and intellectual property law.

Adrian Amaya
Nathan & Lilly Shappell Foundation Scholar
USC Gould School of Law, Class of 2016
Adrian’s parents, who emigrated from Mexico, raised him and his three siblings in a mobile home in Riverside. He attended University of California, Riverside where he earned a B.A. in Sociology. Unfortunately, a week after graduating from UC Riverside, Adrian was involved in a near fatal car accident that placed him in a coma. With the support of his family, he was able to focus on recovering, and the following year he enrolled at USC Law, where he received an American Jurisprudence award in his criminal law course. This summer, he will be working for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Organized Crime Division. Adrian hopes to practice criminal law.

Jessica Anderson
USC Latino Alumni Association Scholar
University of Southern California Gould School of Law, Class of 2016
Jessica was born in Berkeley and was raised most of her life in Mission Viejo. Jessica attended the University of Pennsylvania where she served as an afterschool teacher to West Philadelphia K-12 students. She received a B.A. in Political Science and Urban Studies from UPenn. At USC, Jessica serves as the Vice President of Administrationfor the Public Interest Law Foundation, the Community Service Chair for the Latino Law Students Association, and the Mentor Day Chair for Street Law. This summer she is working at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Jessica plans to practice public interest law.

Jasmina Aragon
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2016
Jasmina was born and raised in Los Angeles by parents who fled civil war in El Salvador in search of a better life. She was the first in her family to graduate high school and attend college. She began working at the age of 16 and continued to work and support herself throughout her undergraduate career earning her B.A. in Political Science at CSUN. At Southwestern, Jasmina is the secretary for the Latino Law Students Association and next year will serve as Co-President. She was awarded the Wiley W. Manuel Certificate for her pro bono work at Bet Tzedek. Jasmina is also part of the Trial Advocacy Honor’s Program at Southwestern. Jasmina plans to practice criminal law as a prosecutor.

Sofía Beltrán
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2017
Sofía was raised in Houston, Texas by parents who emigrated from Colombia. She overcame significant personal challenges, including mastering English and raising her siblings. Sofía graduated magna cum laude from the University of Houston with a B.A. in American History. Sofía served as a bilingual elementary teacher in Austin with the Texas Teaching Fellows. At UCLA, Sofía serves as executive chair of the Food Law Society, admissions chair for the La Raza Latino Law Student Association, and mentor with the Academic Outreach Center. This summer, Sofía is serving as a federal extern with Judge Dolly Gee at the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Sofía plans to practice corporate and transactional law with a focus on biotechnology and food.

Crystal Caldera
Walmart Stores Inc. Scholar
University of California, Irvine Law School, Class of 2017
Crystal was raised in La Mirada, California by Mexican immigrant parents who wanted their children to have a better life. The first female in her family to graduate from high school and college, Crystal is also UC Irvine’s first Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology to concurrently pursue a J.D. through the Program in Law and Graduate Studies. Her current research, focused on the daily realities of life within Mexican-origin communities in the U.S., earned her a distinction as a 2014 American Association for Hispanics in Higher Education Graduate Fellow. She plans to continue her research and legal studies to critically analyze how Latino culture and experiences shape the law in order to eliminate obstacles and create opportunities for underserved communities.

Nathalie Meza Contreras
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2017
Nathalie was raised in Mid-City Los Angeles with her three sisters. At UCLA she majored in Latin American Studies and minored in political science and labor and workplace studies. She attends Southwestern Law School and is the president of the Labor and Employment Law Association, president of the National Lawyers Guild Chapter, and treasurer of the Student Body Association. She has worked with Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project and with the NLG’s Street Vendor Legal Clinics. She is a committed immigrant worker organizer and this summer she will be an AFL-CIO Law Student Union Summer Intern with the Carwash Worker Center. Nathalie plans to practice labor law in Los Angeles to continue organizing with low wage immigrant workers.

Michael Diaz
USC Latino Alumni Association Scholar
USC Gould School of Law, Class of 2017
Michael was raised in Sun Valley, California. Michael attended Pepperdine University, where he earned a B.A. in Psychology, while volunteering at Camp Kilpatrick and Saticoy Village California Children’s Academy. At USC, Michael serves as the alumni relations chair of the Latino Law Students Association. This summer, he will intern at the X-Law Group in Los Angeles. Michael plans to practice in civil litigation.

Cecilia Equihua
Loyola Law School, Class of 2016
Cecilia Equihua lived in California with her father until he was arrested and deported. Cecilia was subsequently sent to a foster home, until her mother, who resided in Nevada, gained custody of her. Cecilia moved to Nevada and later graduated cum laude from UNLV with a bachelor of science in business administration. Cecilia pursued a legal education after her father’s second deportation. At Loyola, Cecilia served as La Raza’s graduation co-chair and is this year’s co-vice president. She interned for the Clark County and Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Offices. She assists Human Rights Watch in seeking changes to harsh immigration laws. This summer, Cecilia will intern with the Orange County Public Defender’s Office. Cecilia intends to become a public defender.

Alondra Espinosa
Loyola Law School, Class of 2016 
Alondra was raised in Wilmington, California by immigrant parents. They resided in a historically underrepresented community plagued with various environmental justice issues. Using her community as inspiration, Alondra attended UCLA, where she earned a B.A. in Political Science, and minored in Environmental Systems and Society, and Chicana/o Studies. As an undergraduate, she gave back to her community by working for an outreach program and was President of a Latina community service sorority. At Loyola, Alondra is La Raza’s Admissions and Retention Co-Chair, a member of the Los Angeles Public Interest Law Journal, and works on various environmental justice issues. This summer she is externing with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington D.C. Alondra plans to practice environmental law.

Michael Ferral
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2017
Michael was raised in Sylmar by a single mother who sacrificed what little disposable income she had on private school for her two children in order to ensure they had the best opportunities to succeed. After struggling academically during his first two years of high school, Michael realized his potential after transferring schools and was able to obtain a competitive GPA. Michael attended Loyola Marymount where he majored in Political Science and minored in History. While attending LMU, he was a member of the Magis service organization, where he served as tutor and mentor to inner city youth. This summer, he is externing for the District Attorney’s Hardcore Gang Unit in the Downtown office. Michael is desirous of a position with the District Attorney’s office.

Lauren Fierro
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2016
Lauren was raised in San Pedro by a single mother who suffered from depression. While working full-time, she earned a degree in Political Science from Cal State Long Beach. Since attending law school, Lauren has received numerous awards, including: the Outstanding Brief Writer Award, the Cali Excellence for the Future Award, and the Witkin Award. In addition, Lauren has held multiple leadership positions on campus and has placed in the top ten percent of her class each year. This summer, Lauren is working for the Constitutional Rights Foundation and caring for her 17-month-old son. In the fall, she will extern for Judge Dean Pregerson at the United States District Court. After law school, Lauren hopes to pursue a career as a prosecutor.

Christopher D. Garcia
White & Case LLP Scholar
Loyola Law School, Class of 2016
Christopher’s parents, who emigrated from Mexico and who spent a much of their lives working long, exhausting hours in the agricultural fields, raised him in Calexico, California. Despite the socioeconomic barriers that Christopher faced during his adolescent years, he was accepted into the University of California, Santa Barbara and graduated with honors in political science. At Loyola, Christopher serves on the board for the St. Thomas More Law Honor Society and is an active member of the Young Lawyers Program. Christopher is currently a summer associate at Crowell & Moring’s downtown Los Angeles office and plans to pursue a career in litigation.

Christy Garcia
Loyola Law School, Class of 2016
Christy’s single mother, who emigrated from El Salvador, raised her in Downey and worked three jobs to provide Christy and her siblings with a better life. Christy is the first in her family to graduate college and attend law school. She earned a B.A. in Psychology and Women’s Studies at UC Riverside and served on the board of Latino Union where she fundraised to provide scholarships for high school students pursuing higher education. At Loyola, Christy is co-networking chair of La Raza de Loyola and the education chair for the Labor and Employment Law Society. This summer she will work as a law clerk at Cummings and Franck, P.C. Upon graduation, Christy plans to practice labor and employment law.

Martin Gattas
Edison International Scholar
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2017
Martin was born in Argentina and his family immigrated to the U.S. when he was eleven months old. Martin attended University of California Santa Barbara, earning a B.A. in Sociology and the Dean’s Honor. While at Southwestern, Martin has ranked in the top ten percent, has earned a CALI Award in Criminal Law, a Witkin Award in Property Law, and an award as Best Brief Finalist. Next year, Martin will serve as a teaching assistant for Property Law and as a Peer Mentor, helping incoming students acclimate to law school. This summer, Martin is clerking at the District Attorney’s Elder Abuse Division. Martin plans one day to open his own practice while providing volunteer legal services to his community.

Marina Gatto
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2017
Marina was raised in San Carlos, California by a lesbian mom and from a young age was a victim of anti-LGBT hate crimes. At the age of eight, she began to speak publicly about being raised by an LGBT family, and became an activist and lobbyist for marriage equality. Marina attended UC Berkeley and double majored in political science and ethnic studies and was co-chair of the Latino Pre-Law Society. At UCLA Law, Marina specializes in Critical Race Studies, and will be the academic co-chair for the La Raza Law Students Association and co-chair for the Womyn of Color Collective. This summer, she will work for the General Counsel of Wilcon. Marina plans to pursue labor and employment and civil rights law.

Paula Guerra
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP Scholar
USC Gould School of Law, Class of 2016
Paula was born and raised in Inglewood by her mother who came to the United States to seek a better life for herself and her children. Even though Paula faced the struggles of growing up in a low-income community, she excelled in school and was the first in her family to graduate high school. Paula attended college at UC San Diego, where she was a part of the JusticeCorps program. At USC, Paula will serve as a submissions editor for the Review of Law and Social Justice, an honors journal. This summer, Paula will be externing at the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office in their Van Nuys Branch.

Stephanie Hernandez
Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP Scholar
Loyola Law School, Class of 2016
Stephanie was raised in Monrovia by her parents, who emigrated from Mexico as teenagers to achieve the American dream. Stephanie is a first generation college graduate. She attended USC where she earned a B.A in Political Science and International Relations. At USC, she served as co-president of Hermanas Unidas and Ballet Folklorico. After graduating cum laude, Stephanie began working for UCLA BruinCorps and was placed at an East Los Angeles school. At Loyola Law School, she is a production editor for the Entertainment Law Review, a member of the La Raza de Loyola, and Labor and Employment Law Society. This summer, Stephanie is working at an employment law firm and hopes to practice in this field upon graduating.

Patsy Martinez
Loyola Law School, Class of 2016
Patsy was born in Jalisco, Mexico and immigrated with her parents to California in pursuit of a brighter future. Patsy was undocumented until 2007 and is the first in her entire family to graduate from high school. She attended Cal Poly Pomona University where she graduated valedictorian of her major. While at Loyola, Patsy has worked as a clinical student for the Collaborative Law Clinic, Law Offices of Michael Felix, and Law Offices of Alex Galvez. In the upcoming school year, Patsy will serve as co-chair of the Immigration Law Society, vice president of the Entertainment and Sports Law Society and secretary of La Raza de Loyola. Upon graduation, she plans on practicing immigration and entertainment law.

Alexandra (Allie) Arlene Mateus
Sidley Austin LLP Scholar
USC Gould School of Law, Class of 2017
Allie was raised in Castaic, a rural city in northern California, by two loving parents and was the first person in her family to graduate from college. Allie attended the University of Redlands where she double majored in government and race and ethnic studies. At Redlands, Allie was deeply involved in the REACH organization, a volunteer program designed to educate and mentor youth within San Bernardino Juvenile Hall. At USC, Allie will serve as president of Street Law and as a board member of the Latino Law Students Association in the upcoming school year. This summer, she will extern for the Ventura County Public Defender’s Office. Allie plans to become a public defender.

Monique Moncayo
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2016
Monique is one of seven children, raised in East Los Angeles by a hardworking single mother. She always knew her education was her only way out of the world of gangs, drugs, and domestic violence that plagued her family and claimed her father’s life when she was ten years old. Monique graduated from UC Santa Barbara and is now entering her final year at Southwestern Law School, where she will serve as Co-President of the Latino Law Students Association and Chair of the Public Interest Law Committee. This summer she will start a yearlong internship with Children’s Law Center, advocating for abused and neglected children. Her greatest title of all is being a mother to her 8-month year old daughter, Mía.

Michelle Monroy
Latham & Waltkins LLP Scholar
Loyola Law School, Class of 2017
Michelle and her two sisters were raised in Los Angeles by their single mother who emigrated from Guatemala. Michelle is the first person in her family to earn a college degree and pursue a postgraduate degree. She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Cal State Long Beach with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in psychology. While at CSULB, she was involved with the JusticeCorps program. Michelle is currently an Alumni Scholar at Loyola Law School. This summer, she will be working towards her LL.M. in Taxation, and next year, will serve as community service chair for the Women’s Law Association. In the future, she plans to practice tax law to help low- income communities develop economically.

Jazmin N. Ramirez
Latino Prosecutors Foundation Scholar
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2016
Jazmin was raised in East Los Angeles, surrounded by gang violence. Her parents, however, did everything they could to ensure her success. Jazmin attended Bravo High School and played on the girl’s varsity basketball and softball teams. She received her B.A. in Political Science from UC Riverside while working two jobs. During her 1L year at Southwestern, Jazmin was ranked in the top twenty percent of her class and made it onto the Moot Court Honors Program. She also volunteered over twenty-five hours for several organizations. She was recently selected to serve on the 2015-2016 Moot Court Board of Governors. Jazmin will complete her second externship at the District Attorney’s Office this summer and plans to become a prosecutor.

Catalina A. Reynoso
Loyola Law School, Class of 2016
Catalina A. Reynoso’s parents, grandparents and aunts raised her in Lynwood and Compton. She is the first in her family to graduate high school. She obtained her bachelors degree in women’s studies from UCLA. While at UCLA, Catalina was a director for a mentoring organization that serves at-risk Latina students in East Los Angeles. Catalina currently attends Loyola Law School. At Loyola, she is a student legal representative for the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic, which provides immigration relief to indigent victims of crimes.This summer, she will work on immigration defense cases at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy. Catalina plans to practice in the fields of immigration and estate planning and plans to run for mayor of Lynwood.

Maria Rivera
Loyola Law School, Class of 2016
Maria was raised by a single-mother in a one-bedroom guesthouse in the City of Bell. When Maria was 14-years-old, she began working to help her mother cover household expenses while caring for her younger brother and grandmother who suffers from dementia. Maria graduated with a double B.A. in Political Science and Central American Studies from CSUN, where she served as the Central American United Student Association’s president, was committed to community service, while being in the Dean’s List from 2007-2010. At Loyola, Maria volunteers for the Young Lawyers Program and next year will serve on four- student organization’s executive board. This summer, Maria will clerk for Hadsell Stormer Renick LLP in Pasadena. Maria plans to practice employment and civil rights law.

Candace Rodriguez
Cedars Sinai Medical Center Scholar|
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2016
Candace’s single mother and grandmother raised her in the San Fernando Valley. Candace attended UCLA and earned a B.A. in Political Science while working full-time. Before starting law school, Candace endured a yearlong battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Since beginning Southwestern Law School, Candace has served on the board for the Latino Law Students Association, Law and Medicine Society, and the Moot Court Honors Program. She has externed at the Disability Rights Center in Los Angeles and plans to extern at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the fall. This summer, Candace will work as an Employee Justice Fellow advocating for workers’ rights. Candace plans to continue to advocate for employee and patients’ rights and write policy aimed at protecting those rights.

Melissa Romo
Walmart Stores Inc. Scholar
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2017
Melissa’s single mother and immigrant grandparents raised her in Whittier, California. As the first person in her family to graduate from college, Melissa attended UCLA, where she received a B.A. in Communication Studies, and a minor in political science. While at UCLA, Melissa worked, made Dean’s List, was a UCLA Law Fellow and volunteered in organizations such as Unicamp and Bruin Hope. At Southwestern, Melissa is an active member of Teen Court and the Latino Law Student Association (LLSA) and will be serving as a LLSA board member in the upcoming school year. Melissa plans to work in public service and will be externing at the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Hardcore Gang Division this summer.

Jessica Vasquez
Nathan & Lilly Shappell Foundation Scholar
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2016
Jessica grew up in rural Mexico and migrated to the United States when she was nine years old. After acclimating to a new country and language, Jessica graduated from Oxnard High School and was the first in her family to attend a university. Jessica attended UC Santa Barbara, where she earned a B.A. in Law and Society. After graduation, Jessica worked as an immigration paralegal and served as a case technician for administrative law judges at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. At Southwestern, Jessica received the Witkin Award for Academic Excellence and is in the top ten percent of her class. This summer, Jessica will be a judicial intern at the Executive Office of Immigration Review. Jessica plans to practice immigration law.

Andrew Yep
Staples Inc. Scholar
Loyola Law School, Class of 2016
Andrew grew up in Boyle Heights, raised by a single mother who emigrated from Mexico. After years of working to support himself and pay for college, Andrew graduated cum laude from California State University, Northridge. He currently attends Loyola Law School, where he is a member of the Scott Moot Court Honors Board, serves on the Admissions and Retention Committee for La Raza de Loyola, and is an extern with the State Board of Equalization representing low-income taxpayers in tax appeals before the board. This summer, Andrew is working with the employment law firm of Cummings & Franck. Andrew plans to become a trial lawyer and a civic leader.


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