Our Scholars


In Alphabetical Order:

Lisa Alarcon                                                                                        
Hernandez Stern Public Interest Scholar
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2011
Lisa received a B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University in 2002 and was the first in her family to graduate from a university or pursue a post-graduate education. Before attending law school, she worked as a fair housing specialist for a non-profit organization, a legal assistant in a small law firm that handles mental health issues and as a legislative consultant for State Senator Alex Padilla.  She is currently the Co-Editor-In-Chief of the Chicana/o-Latina/o Law Review.  She hopes to work in the field of civil rights and health law after law school.  

Jeremy Anthony Avila   
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2011
Jeremy was the first in his family to graduate from a university or pursue a post-graduate education.  In 2008, he obtained a B.A. in political science from USC, where he was on the Dean’s List and served as President of the Pre-Law Fraternity.  Jeremy is now enrolled at UCLA Law School, where he serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Chicano-Latino Law Review.  This summer, he will work at the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California in San José.

Matthew Barragan                                   
Hernandez-Stern Public Interest Scholar
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2011
A Matthew was born and raised in the small farming town of Delano, California.  He graduated from UCLA with a degree in Political Science, where he was very active mentoring other students.  He has worked on the Journal of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and at the Prisoner Re-entry Clinic. He is the currently Managing Editor of the Chicano Law Review as well as the External Co-Chair of the La Raza Law Students Association. This summer he will serve as an intern at the Mexican American Legal and Education Fund.

Margaret Buitrago
Greenberg Traurig LLP Scholar
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2012
A native of the Mission District of San Francisco, Margaret was the first in her family to attend college.  She went on to study at the University of San Francisco, where she graduated magna cum laude, was on the Dean’s List all semesters, and was a three-time recipient of the Holstein Scholarship for Public Service, an award granted to only four students per year.  Before attending UCLA law school, Margaret interned in the San Francisco and Washington, D.C. offices of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

Caroline Castañeda
Loyola Class of 2011
As a research assistant at University of California at Irvine, Carolina Castañeda had an opportunity to interview juvenile offenders housed in secure facilities, many of whom spoke only Spanish and trusted no one.  Stunned by the lack of adequate legal representation for these young people, Ms Castañeda was determined to serve legally under-represented populations as a lawyer. This summer she will work at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’s Employment Division where she will help lawyers assist clients with issues such as wage and hour disputes, unemployment insurance, and workplace discrimination.  Her academic excellence won her scholarships that paid for most of her undergraduate education, and MABF is honored to help fund her legal education. 

Jacquelyn N. Garcia                         
Verizon Wireless Scholar
Loyola Law School, Class of 2011
Despite the fact that many of the Court Legal Resource Center’s clients are Spanish speakers, volunteer Jacquelyn Garcia is often the only bilingual English-Spanish speaker available to help individuals with family law, small claims, and housing issues.  Armed with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis an law and international business from Loyola Marymount, Ms. Garcia will be working this summer with lawyers in Sacramento, where she will learn to draft and enact legislation.  This is Ms. Garcia’s second MABF scholarship.

Yvonne Garcia
Southwestern Class of 2011
As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Yvonne was taught the importance of doing well in school and taking advantage of what this country has to offer anyone willing to work hard. She has done just that. She earned her B.A. from Loyola Marymount and while doing so was active in numerous student organizations and community activities.  After graduating, she served as an Americor Volunteer for two years.  During the summer, she will be working at U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the legal department.

Denisse O. Gastelum                                                               
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Scholar
Loyola Law School, Class of 2011
This is Denisse Gastelum’s second MABF scholarship.  After working to pay her way through UCLA, Ms. Gastelum became the first member of her family to attend law school.  In addition to her studies at Loyola Law School, she has been working as a law clerk for a civil litigator where she discovered a passion for impact litigation, particularly in the areas of employment and labor law, government and public entity liability, police brutality, and constitutional rights and defenses.  Ms. Gastelum looks forward to the fall semester when she will have the opportunity to extern in federal court.

Francis Guzman   
Hernandez Stern Public Interest Scholar
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2011
A native of Oxnard and the son of a farm worker, “Frankie” started his college education at Oxnard College and ended up graduating from UC Berkeley in 2007.  Before commencing law school, he worked for two years at the National Center for Youth Law, where he was involved with various projects related to juvenile justice, education and child welfare. This summer he will work with Public Counsel’s Immigrant Right’s Project.

Berta Alicia Hernandez
White & Case LLP Scholar
USC School of Law, Class of 2011
Berta earned her B.S. in Business Administration at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, near where she grew up as the daughter of migrant farm workers.  Her parents urged her to make a “difference” by helping others.  At USC, Berta has continued to excel academically, having received CALI Excellence in Legal Education Awards for Legal Writing II, Civil Procedure II and Criminal Law.  Berta has not yet decided which direction her career will take. However, her extensive community service efforts, for which she received the Community Involvement Program Scholarship, have revealed several areas in which she is sure she can make a “difference.” 

Joseph Iniquez
Latino Prosecutors Foundation Scholar
Loyola Law School, Class of 2012
After earning his degree in political science from UCLA, Joseph Iniquez became a high school teacher at just 21 years of age.  As a young teacher, he discovered the students were more apt to trust him and seek his guidance regarding issues both academic and personal.  As a law student, Mr. Iniquez continues to mentor young people through Loyola’s “Young Lawyers” program, which prepares high school students for mock trials in front of sitting judges of the Superior Court judges for their families to observe.  Mr. Iniquez looks forward to spending the summer in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, where he will have the opportunity to pursue his interest in criminal law by assisting prosecutors with their cases. 

Brenda Montes    
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2011
Brenda graduated magna cum laude from the University of California-Fullerton in 2008.  She was Captain of her Debate Team, and ranked 13th in the nation.  As an undergraduate, Brenda volunteered at the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Association, where she worked to expose housing discrimination in predominantly Latino and Korean communities.  At UCLA Law School, Brenda is Co-President and Head of the Executive Board of the La Raza Law Student Association.  This summer, she will serve as a law clerk at the Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sasha Moreno
Pepperdine Class of 2011
After receiving a B.A. from the University of North Texas, Sasha left her hometown of El Paso, Texas, for California to pursue her interest in entertainment law.  In addition to her regular legal studies, she is also pursuing a Master’s Degree in Dispute Resolution. She is the current president of Pepperdine’s Latino Law Student Association. This summer, she is working at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and the Independent Film and Television Alliance.

Leticia Ramirez
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2012
Leticia earned her B.A. in History from Stanford University in 2004 and then spent several years as a labor organizer for the SEIU. In addition, she has volunteered as a mentor for children living in foster care, helped draft plans for gang reduction efforts for the City of L.A., and performed outreach services while on her church council. This summer she will be working for the Child Protective Services Division of the Office of County Counsel for Orange County.

Leslie Reyes
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2012
Leslie graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of San Diego.  She is interested in criminal, international, and immigration law.  At Southwestern, she is serving as the treasurer for the Latino Law Students Association.  Leslie is dedicated, easy-going, and enjoys the little things in life.  She is honored to be a recipient of the MABF scholarship and thanks the committee for selecting her.  Leslie looks forward to continuing her journey through law school.  This summer, she will be taking summer school courses in Vancouver, Canada. 


Johanna Robles
Loyola Law School, Class of 2012
As an undergraduate student at University of California at Santa Cruz, Joanna Robles spent a life-changing quarter interning at the Office of the Attorney General in Washington, DC.  While there, she organized a database detailing juvenile robbery cases and noticed an unsettling trend: an African-American offender was charged in every one of the juvenile robbery cases that occurred during her tenure Ms. Robles saw firsthand that people of color are disproportionately affected by social problems.  She decided to become an advocate for children and families.  After working in two law offices after college, Ms. Robles confirmed her decision to become a lawyer.  This summer she will be externing for a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. 

Enrique Rodriguez
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP Scholar
Southwestern Class of 2011
After graduating from USC with a degree in Business Administration in 2006, Enrique worked as a Financial Analyst for Wells Fargo Bank and then later served as a Vice-President for BancoBueno Ventura.  He is the first in his family to graduate from college and is committed to using his legal education to help immigrant workers who are at risk of being exploited.  In addition to working 30 a week as a financial analyst and attending classes at night, he volunteers with the General Relief Advocacy Project.

Jose Rodriguez                                           
USC Law School, Class of 2011
Always one for a challenge, Jose double majored in Nuclear Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley.  Not content to be a mere nuclear scientist, Jose decided to pursue a career in law where he can also consider the legal and commercial aspects of nuclear and other technology.  Jose is very near the top of his class at USC and has been honored with the USC Merit Scholarship.  Jose will spend the summer at a large law firm in Los Angeles and plans to become a patent lawyer after he completes his studies at USC. 

Zariel Ruiz                                                           
O'Melveny & Myers LLP Scholar                         
Loyola Law School, Class of 2012
Zairel Ruiz’s childhood memories of growing up in an immigrant family in Los Angeles give her unique insight into the challenges faced by her predominantly Spanish-speaking clients at Neighborhood Legal Services, where she serves as a volunteer.  While continuing her pro bono work in the areas of family law and housing, Ms. Ruiz also visualizes a future career in entertainment law, an area where few Latinas are found.  Ms. Ruiz’s interest in entertainment law arose when she studied mass communications and creative writing at University of California at Berkeley, and evolved while working at Creative Artists Agency.  Ms. Ruiz is currently in her second of the four-year, part-time program at Loyola Law School.  This is Ms. Ruiz’s second MABF scholarship.

Cynthia Valdez
Southwestern Law School
Cynthia spent the first ten years of her life in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Not too long after her arrival in the Los Angeles area her academic skills and personal qualities were noticed by her teachers and from South Gate High School she went on to UCLA. While at there earning her B.A. she was a BruinCorps volunteer and regularly tutored low income students in math, science and English.  Prior to entering law school, she served as Constituent Services Representative for Mayor Villaraigosa.  She is the President of the Immigration Law Students Association at Southwestern and plans to work in that field when she graduates.

Jessica Verano
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2012

The daughter of Peruvian immigrants, Jessica received her Bachelor's degree in Sociology and Law and Society from UC Riverside and a certificate in litigation from the UCLA Law Paralegal Program in 2003.  She also earned a Master's degree in English Literature from Loyola Marymount University.  In 2003, Jessica joined Benevolent Vision, counsel to nonprofits, as a paralegal associate, and plans to work there this summer.  She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, a corporate member of the California Association of Nonprofits, and a member of the Latino Law Students Association.

Nicole Vongehanglor
Southwestern Law School, Class of 2011
Nicole graduated from the University of California, Riverside where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a minor in Philosophy. During her two years in law school, she has served as the Academic Affairs Director of the Latino Law Student Association, class representative of the Student Bar Association, and staff writer of the Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law. This summer she is working as a law clerk at Gilbert, Kelly, Crowley and Jennett. This is Nicole’s second MABF scholarship.

MABF General Scholarship Winners
(L to R)
Judge Richard Paez of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Lisa Alarcon(UCLA '11)
Angela Belty (Loyola '11)
Ginette Brown (USC '10)
Jose Rodriguez (USC '11)
Joel Marrero (UCLA '10)
Rolando Gonzalez (Southwestern '12) Jacqueline Serna (UCLA '10)
Denisse Gastelum (Loyola '11)
and Janina Verano (Pepperdine '10)
with MABF Founding President
Alicia Villarreal























 












 

 


 



 







 

 


























 

 

 
















































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