Class of 2023
Forogh Bashizada was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. She and her family lived under the horror filled reign of the Taliban until they immigrated as refugees to Washington State. Forogh
graduated summa cum laude and two years early with a double major in Political Science and English and a minor in Law, Societies, and Justice from the University of Washington. At graduation she was awarded the President’s Medal, an honor bestowed to only two graduating seniors with the most distinguished academic records who were the top of their class. Due to her family history and lived experiences Forogh is incredibly passionate about advocating for marginalized populations. Forogh has regularly volunteered with refugee communities, focusing especially on progressing women’s rights. She was a CourtWatch Monitor with the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center where she witnessed and wrote detailed reports on cases related specifically to sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking and child abuse. Those reports were then utilized to enact legislative change and research the significance of rhetoric in the courtroom. Additionally, Forogh taught and provided ELL support to newly arrived refugee/immigrant high school students to enhance their language and educational skills in order to bridge the gap in lack of access and resources.
As Forogh enters law school she hopes to continue to serve and empower underrepresented
members of society who are oppressed and silenced.
Lucero was born and raised in the southside of Santa Fe, NM. Growing up in a low-income primarily latinx neighborhood, Lucero witnessed firsthand the disparities in education, health outcomes, and access to resources faced by people of color. In 2016, after graduating, Lucero and her 9 month old son moved to Georgetown, TX where Lucero completed her first two years of undergrad education. Lucero then transferred to the University of Denver (DU) where she completed her studies and graduated with a bachelors in Sociology with a minor in political science.
During her two years at DU Lucero worked as a legal assistant at a small immigration firm, while she served as an intern and volunteer for Casa de Paz. Casa de Paz, a local nonprofit organization dedicates its resources to help people newly released from detention find their way home. Along with her work with Casa de Paz, Lucero participated in research centered around the Jewish Consumptives Relief Society Archives focused on health outcomes and holistic medicine. Lucero maintained a 4.0 gpa throughout her time at DU, making it on the Deans list every semester. She also won the 2020 William H. Key Award for outstanding Work in applied sociology.
As she enters Berkeley Law, Lucero hopes to continue her work with immigrant communities. She is dedicated to bring to the forefront the voices of marginalized individuals, and to help dismantle the hierarchy on language that prevents many low-income communities from truly understanding the law. Lucero is a Davis New Mexico Scholar, and a Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholar.
Class of 2022
Isabel Cortes was born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico and moved to California at the age of nine. Growing up in rural Humboldt County, Isabel witnessed firsthand the educational and economic disparities among her family and her community. In 2008, Isabel moved to the Bay Area and attended Mills College, a private women’s college, where she learned about the value of sisterhood and femtorship. While at Mills College, Isabel was President of the Mills College Feminist Democrats and led delegations of young women to attend the Democratic State Conventions and partake in the political sector. For elevating women into leadership roles and for engaging young women into active political participation, Isabel was awarded the Women of the Year Award from the California National Women’s Political Caucus.
During her time at Mills, Isabel was also involved in student government and was the Judicial Chair in the Associated Students of Mills College, ensuring that students had a fair representation on campus and with the administration. Isabel was also an intern at El Centro Legal de la Raza and worked under the Immigration Department supporting clients and victims of domestic violence in receiving immigration support. Isabel graduated in 2012 with Honors and received a double Bachelors in Political, Legal, and Economic Analysis and Ethnic Studies, where she received the Spirit of Dolores Huerta Award, an academic and community award presented to the graduating senior who exemplifies the values of service and justice as evidenced in the person of Dolores Huerta. In 2013, Isabel graduated with a Master in Public Policy and received the Mills College Community Engagement Award as the Graduate Leader of the Year.
In 2014, as a DACA recipient, Isabel went on to work at the California State Senate focusing on
environmental policy and environmental justice as a staffer for Senator Loni Hancock. Through
her advocacy work, Isabel assisted Senator Hancock in developing a policy and legislative
strategy, resulting in success when Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1279 into law. The bill
halted the construction of a coal export facility in West Oakland. This environmental win was
essential to protect disadvantaged communities from hazardous coal dust, exacerbated health
disparities, and environmentally unjust consequences. After her work in the Senate and before
law school, Isabel joined Energy Foundation as a Senior Associate and worked on Energy
Efficiency for All, a national program in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council
and the National Housing Trust. The program focused on the nexus between affordable
multifamily housing and energy efficiency.
As Isabel enters Berkeley Law, she hopes to engage in learning that includes policy and legal
solutions to issues affecting women and communities of color. Isabel is a UCLA Law Fellow, a Council on Legal Education Opportunity Scholar, and a Greenlining Academy Alumna.
Ariel Flores Mena
Ariel Flores Mena was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico. His family immigrated to Utah at the age of twelve. He graduated from the University of Utah in 2018 with an Honors Degree in Business Management and a Minor in Ethnic Studies. Along with graduating with honors, Ariel was the recipient of many awards and recognitions during his undergraduate education such as the “Student Leader of the Year” award, and the business school’s recognitions as the management department’s “Graduating Student of the Year”. Ariel also wrote a thesis on identity navigation in the school of business to raise awareness of the experiences of students of color to administrators and professors in order to make the school a safer and more inclusive space.
During his undergraduate education, Ariel was involved with many student activist
organizations. Ariel sought to improve the conditions and advocate for underprivileged students of color through his involvement with the Black Student Union, SOMOS Dreamers, and
MEChA. Ariel was also appointed to be a part of the school’s Anti-racism Task Force, the
university’s Presidential Search Committee, and served as the student government’s “Chief
Supreme Court Justice”. As part of his early involvement, Ariel spent two semesters tutoring
students at a local high school, and teaching English to adult immigrants at nights. Ariel also
interned in D.C. for two summers. During the first summer he interned with a non-profit called
Voto Latino that aims to increase the Latinx civic engagement process and register more people
to vote. During the second summer, Ariel interned in the US Congress for the House of
Representatives. This experience heavily influenced his decision to attend law school as he seeks to create instructional change through policy making.
Ariel hopes to continue to be an ally and advocate for marginalized communities all across the
board. He aims to implement policies that will work from the margins and will encompass and
empower those inside of them.
Class of 2021
Jasjit is a bay area native who was raised in a single-parent, immigrant household. Her parents immigrated from Punjab, India in the 1980s. She graduated with highest distinction from UC Berkeley in 2017, where she studied social welfare and minored in public policy.
During her undergrad, Jasjit was heavily involved with workers’ rights organizations and unions. She also helped create safe spaces for the Middle Eastern and South Asian community on UC Berkeley’s campus, hosting events such as Tea Talks and community bonding events. She worked to connect low-income tenants in the East Bay to free legal resources to ensure that tenants knew about their legal rights. During her summers, Jasjit helped register voters, focusing on the Sikh community and community in San Jose. She also completed research throughout her undergrad to understand how people involved in their own governance can improve policy and program implementation. After graduating in 2017, Jasjit tutored local elementary school children after school to improve their literacy skills and then worked as a support staff teacher, where she helped reduce the educational achievement gap for many low-income students of color.
Jasjit is interested in being an advocate who ensures the voices of her community are heard on a macro-scale through the legal and policy field. She hopes to give back to those who helped and inspired her to get here.
Savelle Jefferson graduated from the University of California-Davis in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Sociology with an emphasis in Law and Society and a minor in Political Science. During his undergraduate career Savelle was a founding member of the Black Pre-Law Association at UC Davis, a member of the collegiate Mock Trial team and a High School Outreach Fellow for the UC Davis Student Recruitment and Retention Center.
In addition to Savelle’s involvement on his respective college campus, Savelle has also been an advocate for change on the county, state and national level. While still pursuing his undergraduate degree Savelle worked as a Criminal Justice Researcher in his home county’s Department of Probation. Within this position Savelle analyzed and collected data to evaluate the quality of the department’s re-entry services and their effect on the overall recidivism rate for the county.
From there he went on to work at the AFL-CIO in both the Campaign and Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Departments where he participated in organizing and implementing a national program for the upcoming election to ensure legal voter protection and voting rights for all individuals regardless of background. Within this position he also assisted in developing a criminal justice reform training to educate interns within the labor field on the broader effects of mass incarceration. Taking this experience with organizing combined with a passion for voting rights, Savelle then went on to work for Fair Elections Legal Network as their North Carolina State Director. Within this position he supervised eleven fellows on eight university campuses, collectively they engaged college campuses across the state at an institutional level to drive nonpartisan civic engagement programs during the 2016 election. These initiatives promoted voter registration and equal ballot access that reached across the entire campus community at these universities.
As Savelle enters law school he aspires to obtain a legal education that will allow him to make tangible change in our society for individuals who lack the necessary social and financial capital to make change themselves.
Class of 2020
Saxon Cropper-Sykes graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with degrees in Sociology and Feminist Studies. At UC Santa Barbara, Saxon was a leader at various intersections of identity, supporting UC Santa Barbara’s African-American and LGBTQ community. Saxon was named a Michael D. Young Scholar, one of the top five university distinction awards awarded annually to one graduate or undergraduate student who has skillfully integrated their scholarly knowledge and/or values into action. The recipient embodies a commitment to empowering students toward principled leadership.
Saxon developed a multifaceted initiative, The Black Student Engagement Program. He assisted in divisional efforts surrounding African-American outreach and retention. He created an undergraduate mentorship program and collaborated with the Center for Black Studies Research to design research development curriculum for undergraduate students. Saxon served as co-chair of the student retention group on UC Santa Barbara’s Black Resource Committee, a task-force of faculty, senior administrators, and staff that identify opportunities and institutional deficits regarding enrollment, retention, and graduation for Black students.
Saxon Cropper-Sykes is a California Bar Diversity Scholar and UCLA Law Fellow (2016).
Lana is a first generation American Muslim who grew up as the eldest of three in a single-mother household. Lana attended UCLA where she cemented her passion for human rights and social justice. She graduated with a degree in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations and a minor in African and Middle Eastern Studies. While at UCLA, she became active in the Undergraduate Student Association Council’s External Vice President Office through which she advocated for a more inclusive, diverse, and affordable education. Lana went on to be elected as the External Vice President in 2012. As EVP, she prioritized legislation that promoted accessibility and affordability of higher education, such as the Middle Class Scholarship, and voter registration. She spearheaded a campus-wide voter registration drive that registered 6,234 voters in 3 months. Lana was also a Board Member of the United States Student Association as the People of Middle Eastern and South Asian Descent Caucus Chair from 2011-2013 and a Board Member of the University of California Student Association from 2012-2013. After graduating in 2014, Lana continued to advocate for diverse and inclusive communities through her work at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – LA as the Voting Rights Coordinator and then the Pro Bono Coordinator and Community Legal Advocate. Lana organized efforts to ensure that minority and limited English speaking voters hade access to voting and coordinated volunteers for both the poll monitoring and phone banking projects. As Community Legal Advocate, Lana worked with organizations such as the ACLU and the National Lawyer’s Guild to provide Know Your Rights workshops at various mosques and Islamic centers across southern California. As a 1L at Berkeley Law, Lana looks forward to developing skills that will enable her to more effectively and actively advocate for underrepresented communities. During her free time Lana enjoys cooking and spending time with family.
Class of 2019
In 2000, Mariam and her family emigrated from Pakistan to resettle in the Bay Area. One year later, they were suddenly subjected to unwarranted FBI investigation for “national security reasons” simply based on their Pakistani nationality, thereby creating an eight-year delay on their green card applications. Growing up in this delayed immigration process caused by post 9/11 policies motivated Mariam to pursue a legal career.
As an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, Mariam focused her political science studies on examining how history and culture influence policies. She published two research articles on the expansion of hate crime statutes and the use of capital punishment. She also worked part-time at the U.S. District Court Pretrial Service Agency in Oakland, where she wrote criminal history reports and assisted officers with supervision of defendants pending trial. Knowing the injustice that can result from ostracizing labels, Mariam complied holistic narratives for each defendant, diligently gathering affidavits from police departments and interviewing family members in order to provide critical and relevant missing contextual information.
After graduating Pi Sigma Alpha from UC Berkeley in 2013, Mariam began working as a paralegal at the American Civil Liberties Union, joining a litigation team leading the national effort to protect immigrants’ rights. Mariam worked with attorneys to reveal the unconstitutionality of ICE detainers and arrest policies. Mariam also researched local jurisdictions around the country and documented stories of immigrants who were detained or deported. These stories were in turn used in amicus briefs to demonstrate that the government’s mandatory detention regime was both unconditional and widely damaging to immigrant communities.
Mariam looks forward to using her law degree to litigate against discriminatory policies. In addition to her interest in civil liberties and criminal justice work, Mariam enjoys traveling, video editing, and playing ukulele.
Ana Duong is the daughter of Southeast Asian refugees from Vietnam, the first in her family to graduate from college, and the first to go to law school. Ana grew up in Garden Grove, CA, and went on to graduate from the University of California, Berkeley with simultaneous degrees in Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies and Society and Environment.
As an undergraduate, Ana interned at the Asian Law Caucus (ALC), the nation’s first legal and civil rights organization serving low-income Asian American communities. As a Voting Rights Intern at ALC, Ana engaged in grassroots advocacy, calling and emailing local community organizations about contesting a draft of redistricting maps that split existing political communities in the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC) ultimately accepted the proposed changes, and Ana felt exhilarated to have been part of the community organizing process, experiencing the gratifying work of making a difference firsthand.
Ana devoted her senior year of college to student organizing in the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community on campus. She interned at the Asian Pacific American Student Development (APASD) Office and co-chaired the 22nd Annual Asian Pacific Islander Issues Conference (APIICON), an event designed to foster awareness and to spark dialogue regarding contemporary issues in the API community.
Ana received the California Alumni Association Leadership Award for innovative, initiative-driven leadership. She also received the Chao Suet Foundation Award for her demonstrated commitment to campus and community service.
After law school, Ana would like to provide legal services and educational programs to low-income and under-resourced communities. She aspires to pursue a career that will allow her not only to promote civil rights and social justice, but also to increase access to justice, the court system, and free legal resources.
Class of 2018
Paul Monge Rodriguez
Paul Monge Rodriguez is a first-generation college graduate and the son of immigrant parents from El Salvador. Growing up in San Salvador, El Salvador and resettling in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul went on to pursue his BA in Global Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As an undergraduate he focused on social justice advocacy around worker, immigrant and LGBTQ rights, served as president of the university’s student body and graduated summa cum laude with election to Phi Beta Kappa in 2011.
After a year in New York City government working as a policy analyst for Mayor Michael Bloomberg on designing anti-recidivism interventions for young men of color leaving the justice system, Paul returned to San Francisco to work as a political organizer for the region’s largest public sector labor union, SEIU Local 1021. Paul has worked to address issues of educational inequity within public schools as a campaign director for Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, a non-profit organization with a thirty-year legacy of advocating of low-income communities of color in San Francisco. Additionally, he has served as a Commissioner on the San Francisco Youth Commission where he was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to represent the unmet needs of San Francisco’s children, youth and their families.
Paul earned a Masters in Public Policy at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government and is pursuing a Juris Doctor degree at the UC Berkeley School of Law focusing on social justice and public interest law.
Hamza Jaka is a graduate of the University of California-Berkeley, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, and is a member of the incoming class of 2018 at Berkeley law hoping to become an employment attorney and policymaker. Hamza has been an active leader in Disability and Human Rights in the US and abroad. He was co-chair of the Kids As Self Advocates (KASA) Advisory Board for two years and a board member for the past seven year years. He has also interned for the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (through the AAPD internship program), working on youth and minority employment issues, and has interned with the Wisconsin State Council on Independent Living examining housing policy.
He is a graduate of the UNESCO Human Rights Institute’s 8th Annual Intergenerational Leadership Program. Hamza interned with the Department of State’s Office of Global Youth Issues in the summer of 2013 to help build and update a Global Youth Affairs curricula. He was featured as a young leader to watch by the State Department for Black History Month. As co-president of the UC-Berkeley Disabled Students Union from 2010-2013, Hamza handled disability affairs for UC Berkeley students. In addition to his years as co-president, Hamza served as a board member of the group in 2014. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Berkeley Student Cooperative for the 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 school years.
He has served on the United States Business Leadership Network’s Student Advisory Council from 2012 to today, creating the Affiliate Liaison position, and serves as an advisor to the Enabled Muslim project. Hamza also started the non-profit project, the Global connection, with supports and provides resources to a disability organization, Milestone, in Pakistan. In his free time, Hamza loves to read, study, exercise and spend time with his family.
Class of 2017
Martha Camarillo Freston
Martha’s family immigrated to the United States from Chihuahua, Mexico. She grew up in the beautiful state of Utah. She graduated from Weber State University (WSU) in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Along with graduating magna cum laude, Martha received WSU’s Excellence in Service graduation recognition for having completed over 300 hours of volunteer work during her undergraduate years. In 2012, she was also awarded WSU’s Crystal Crest “Woman of the Year” Award and the Jock Glidden Excellence in Philosophy Award.
Before law school, Martha worked as College Access Advisor as part of the Utah College Advising Corps for the University of Utah. As such, she mentored underrepresented students through the college application process. She also helped coordinate Utah’s first College Application Week Campaign. As a former undocumented person, she was especially honored to have been able to advice undocumented students and motivate them to pursue higher education.
In 2014, Martha spoke at the 86th annual Utah Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Convention to raise awareness about the plight of undocumented students and motivate Utahns to lobby for the issue. She plans to continue advocating for this humanitarian cause. After law school, Martha will be litigating in Salt Lake City
Seema has been working to advance social, economic, and environmental justice for a decade. She grew up in the Bay Area to parents of South Asian descent via South Africa and Kenya. She has worked throughout the bay area, from starting student organizations on her campus to support farmers in the Central Valley, to doing political education with South Asian youth, to her work in Oakland.
Recently, she worked as Project Manager at Eat drink Politics where she conducted extensive research and helped draft reports on underhanded food industry tactics that threaten public health. Prior to that, she was the Organizer at Green For All, where she created resources and campaigns to empower communities who were disproportionately impacted by pollution and the economic recession to start projects in their neighborhoods and advocate for green jobs. In Oakland, Seema worked with a coalition of neighborhood groups and residents to build an equitable community-owned farmer’s market to serve the dual purposes of food justice and economic resiliency in the neighborhood. She has also worked in South Africa and India and facilitated workshops at global gatherings.
Seema graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Conservation and a minor in Global Poverty. She looks forward to using her law degree to be a stronger advocate for justice and to continue promoting transformative social change.
Class of 2016
Over the last decade, Evelyn has advocated for equitable policy changes in California’s State Capitol and has advanced human rights movements throughout the United States. She served as Policy Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, where she helped create the Climate Change Community Benefits Fund. This groundbreaking legislation will invest millions of dollars annually in communities that suffer from the highest levels of poverty and pollution in California.
Evelyn is also the former founding president of the United Coalition for Immigrant Rights (UCIR). On May 1st, 2006, she led the largest political mobilization in the history of the state of Nevada to date. Over 80,000 immigrant families and allies peacefully walked the entire Las Vegas Strip—shutting down the economic force of the city—to stop a national anti-immigrant legislative proposal.
Evelyn graduated magna cum laude from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she attained three Bachelors’ of Arts in Women’s Studies, English and Political Science. She was also the 2008-2009 Sustainable Development Fellow at the Greenlining Institute, where she advocated on behalf of low-income communities of color in California. After law school, she plans to become a compassionate public interest lawyer and continue her trajectory as a transformative agent of social change.
Jerome F. Pierce earned a B.A. in History and Philosophy from the George Washington University. He worked with the Sentencing Project researching felony disenfranchisement and the impact that the racial disparities plaguing the American prison system have on communities of color. Most recently, Jerome worked with the National Press Foundation to provide seminar-style programs aimed at helping international and domestic journalists report on complex issues. While at the George Washington University, Jerome served two stints as a corps member of Jumpstart, an AmeriCorps program that works to help low-income pre-school children develop the language and literacy skills necessary for success in school and beyond.
Class of 2015
Tamila Danielle Gresham earned a B.S. in Sociology and a B.S. in Philosophy from Missouri State University. During her time there, she founded and presided over the university’s first chapter of the National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People. She also served as the Director of Student Affairs for the university’s Student Government Association, spearheading and organizing campus improvements benefiting students who live off‐campus or are physically disabled. Additionally, Tamila was very active in local politics and was elected to represent Missouri voters as a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Upon graduation, Tamila eschewed law school acceptances and chose to join Teach ForAmerica, serving in Hartford, Connecticut as a founding 6th grade Reading teacher at a high performing charter school. In addition to her work in the classroom, Tamila served on TFA‐Connecticut’s Corps Member Advisory Board collecting and analyzing corps member satisfaction data in order to improve the corps member experience. After her two‐year commitment as a TFA corps member, Tamila opted to teach an additional year to help further develop her school’s 6th grade Reading curriculum. Tamila is a passionate advocate for marginalized groups, especially women and the LGBTQ community, and plans to use her law degree to combat societal inequities through political advocacy and working to revise and reform problematic and discriminatory laws.
Bryan was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA to refugees fleeing the violence of theSalvadoran Civil War. He was stimulated toward social justice after the introductionof H.R. 4437, which threatened to criminalize undocumented immigrants and those who assist them. Since then he has devoted himself to serving the low‐income communities of Los Angeles through multiple progressive and public interest organizations.
He has previously assisted Change to Win Federation organize workers for union campaigns to empower a marginalized labor force. As an outreach organizer for Los Angeles Youth Network, Bryan propagated information about L.A.’s homeless crisis while identifying financial resources to support homeless youth programs. With the outreach department at Bet Tzedek Legal Services, Bryan provided support to attorneys and paralegals assisting the elderly attain public benefits, combat consumer fraud and predatory creditors. As paralegal for the Center for HumanRights and Constitutional Law, Bryan was in charge of processing late amnesty appeals resulting from CSS/Newman and IAP/NWIRP class action settlements and provided support for litigation challenging Arizona’s SB 1070 Law and DOMA related immigration issues. Most recently, Bryan was a Legal Advocate with the LosAngeles Center for Law and Justice where he was responsible for providing support to clients who were Domestic Violence, sexual assault and stalking victims. He assisted clients in matters regarding divorce, paternity, child custody, child support and restraining orders.
Bryan earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles and an A.A. in Liberal Arts from Los Angeles Pierce College. He hopes to use his education at Berkeley Law to pursue impact litigation as a tool for systemic social change.
Class of 2014
Alejandro Francisco Delgado earned M.Phil and M.A. degrees in History from Yale University and a B.A. from Colgate University. He organized academic, service, and hotel workers with UNITE-HERE in and beyond New Haven, Connecticut, and more recently worked with Proyecto Defensa Laboral in Austin, Texas, providing legal assistance to undocumented construction workers. Alejandro is interested in working in legal aid, impact litigation, community outreach, and policy advocacy.
Maria Sofia Corona Gomez earned an M.A. in History from the University of Texas and a B.A. from California State University, Fresno. She has worked at California Rural Legal Assistance as a community worker since 2009, and has coordinated union campaigns and immigrant rights coalitions. Sofia is deeply committed to unincorporated communities in the Central Valley.
Class of 2013
Sonja has extensive work experience in the public sector, facilitating advocacy campaigns, directing qualitative and quantitative research projects, and organizing multi-cultural programming. As an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Sonja was a research assistant, teaching assistant, and student director for outreach and retention programs. After her undergraduate studies, Sonja advocated on behalf of communities of color in the most recent California health expansion debate as a Health Fellow at Latino Issues Forum and architected the first interactive online advocacy portal specifically designed to increase the civic participation of Latina registered voters in California as an associate at Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE). As a graduate student, Sonja directed a longitudinal participatory research study on neighborhood public school choice reforms within LAUSD as a researcher for UCLA’s Center X, documented the propensity of telemedicine to benefit urban communities as a Summer Associate at the Greenlining Institute, and advocated against the budget cuts to public higher education statewide. Sonja is a Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) fellow, a graduate of the Applied Research Center’s Racial Justice Leadership Institute, and holds a Masters of Public Policy from UCLA’s School of Public Affairs. Born and raised in urban Los Angeles, Sonja hopes to refine the skills necessary to advance civil rights laws and equitable public policies for marginalized communities on federal and municipal levels.
Diana was born in Michoacan, Mexico. Her family immigrated to the US when she was ﬁve. She was raised in Chicago where became a leader in the immigrant rights movement during high school, when she began organizing youth to ﬁght for ﬁnancial aid and access to higher education for undocumented students. As a high school student, Diana was instrumental in passing Illinois legislation granting in-state tuition to undocumented students. As an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, she founded a student organization that worked to advance the DREAM Act and organized in the local community for comprehensive immigration reform. After college, Diana organized in Seattle where she won community beneﬁts agreements at local hospitals and advanced language access in local hospitals. Most recently Diana was an organizer with the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy in Oakland, where she developed a coalition of labor unions and community organizations to advocate for immigration reform that protected immigrant workers’ rights to organize. After law school, Diana plans to continue ﬁghting to change federal immigration laws to protect immigrant workers’ rights and provide undocumented students access to higher education.
Class of 2012
Yanin was born in Bangkok, Thailand and raised in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles. She worked for six years at the Asian & Paciﬁc Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, fostering national collaborations and ethnic speciﬁc organizing to develop and promote culturally relevant advocacy for Asian, Native Hawaiian and Paciﬁc Islander victims of domestic violence. As a summer intern at Bay Area Legal Aid, Yanin assisted undocumented women in applying for U-Visas and advocated for low-income, homeless and disabled clients in appealing their denials of social security and disability beneﬁts. She is currently an intern at the East Bay Community Law Center, assisting individuals being sued over consumer debt. Along with Makda Goitom (Class of 2012), Yanin is co-chair of the Boalt Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Through her future career in law, Yanin aims to advance the availability and eﬀectiveness of legal services for survivors and ultimately improve victims’ access to personal safety, ﬁnancial security, and well-being.
Amaha is proud to be a first-generation African immigrant, a social justice organizer, and a lawyer in training. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Amaha emigrated to the United States as a child. At Brown University, he was active in the student movement for financial aid reform and minority admissions. After college, he worked as a union organizer with poultry workers in Alabama, nursing home workers in Detroit, and public sector workers in the Silicon Valley. In 1999, he became lead staff person, and eventually Executive Director, of the start-up economic justice nonprofit East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, and helped grow the organization into a nationally recognized leader in its field. Amaha plans to use his legal education to become a more effective advocate and lobbyist for progressive Africa policy and for African immigrant communities in the US.
Class of 2011
Tam has worked on a wide range of poverty law issues as a law clerk with Legal Services of Northern California, East Bay Community Law Center and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. She also served as a judicial extern for the Honorable Kimberly J. Mueller, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of California. Prior to attending law school, Tam was a California Senate Fellow and spent six years working as a policy consultant to State Senator Sheila Kuehl, where she advised the Senator on legislation before the Senate Judiciary Committee and issues relating to housing and tenants’ rights, gender-based crimes, social services and immigrants’ rights.
Tam served on the board of the Women’s Foundation of California. She is a long-time volunteer with My Sister’s House, a Sacramento-based shelter for Asian and Paciﬁc Islander survivors of domestic violence and has served as its board chair. Tam’s volunteer work with the Women’s Policy Institute of the Women’s Foundation of California and the National Asian Paciﬁc American Women’s Forum has helped to develop the capacity of progressive women leaders to inﬂuence California public policy.
Tam received her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. As an Americorps volunteer, Tam ran a literacy program at a juvenile probation camp. A native of Los Angeles, Tam has lived in Northern California all of her adult life. She plans to combine her legal training and her policy experience to continue working for social justice.
Tam is now a Legal Graduate Fellow at Legal Services of Northern California in Sacramento, California.
Aaron is a former foster youth from Richmond, California, who is devoted to the cause of supporting foster youth in the transition to adulthood. In 2001, Aaron successfully helped lobby Congress to supplement foster care spending with $47 million in scholarship grants. As part of his Phoenix Fellowship, he created a best practices manual to guide foster youth and interested practitioners, through the process of emancipation. Aaron worked with Bay Area organizations to preserve funding for California and foster youth services. Aaron graduated from Princeton University and is now an attorney with Jones Day.
Class of 2010
Samika hails from New Orleans, Louisiana, and strives every day to build bridges that help people who share her humble beginnings access higher education. Samika earned both her B.A. and M.A. in Political Science from Howard University, with honors, where she mentored and tutored high school students at the Maya Angelou Charter School. At Boalt, Samika participated in the Board of Advocates (Moot Court); served as Academic Chair of Law Students of African Descent (LSAD); and was active with the Berkeley Journal of African-American Law and Policy (BJALP). Samika’s commitment to academics and community service is inspired by the words of jurist Charles Hamilton Houston: “A lawyer is either a social engineer or a parasite on society.”
Miguel is a passionate advocate on issues relating to Latino communities, youth of color, and education. He earned his BA in Political Science from UC Berkeley. After graduation, he worked as an admissions officer for the UC Berkeley Office of Undergraduate Admissions. As a law student, Miguel volunteered at the Centro Legal de la Raza’s Worker’s Rights Clinic in Oakland, and mentored youth through the Center for Youth Development through Law. He has also played leadership roles in several Berkeley Law student organizations, including serving as co-chair of the Coalition for Diversity, managing editor of the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, and executive editor of the Berkeley Business Law Journal. Miguel is now an attorney at the National Labor Relations Board.
Class of 2009
Samorn Selim is an Associate Director for Private Sector Counseling and Programs at the Berkeley Law Career Development Office.
Vina Ha is an attorney at Google.
Taina Gómez-Ferretti is an attorney at the Fresno County Public Defender’s office.
Kiywhanna Kellup is an attorney at the Social Security Administration.
Class of 2008
Jennifer M. Gómez
Class of 2007
Daniel J. Aguilar
Daniel Aguilar is an attorney at Winston & Strawn LLP. His bio is available here.
C’reda Weeden is an attorney at the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Class of 2006
Bethelwel Wilson is an attorney with Cummins & White LLP in Newport Beach, California.
Wanda Hasadsri is an attorney with the California Department of Social Services.
Lillian Hardy is an associate at Hogan Lovells. Her bio is available here.
Class of 2005
Luz Valverde is an associate at the Law Offices of Cliff Gardner, specializing in appellate and habeas corpus post-conviction proceedings. Her bio is available here.
Salomon Zavala is an attorney in private practice in Los Angeles.
Class of 2004
Class of 2003
Alegria De La Cruz
Alegria De La Cruz was both a Phoenix Fellow and a Post-Graduate Fellow. She was also awarded the 2008 Thelton Henderson Social Justice Prize.
Class of 2002
Class of 2001
Monika Batra Kashyap
Monika came to law school with a history of advocacy on behalf of disempowered immigrants. Before entering Boalt, she co-founded Worker’s Voice (Worker’s Awaaz), the first organization in the country with the goal of organizing South Asian immigrant low-wage workers in different industries for education and empowerment.