Scholarship Recipients Exemplify the Very Best Among Aspiring Lawyers

September 22, 2016

LOS ANGELES, CA - MALDEF is pleased today to announce the recipients in its 2015-2016 Law School Scholarship Program.

Since MALDEF's founding, the civil rights organization has awarded scholarships to law students who will further MALDEF's mission of advancing the civil rights of the Latino community in the United States.

"The headlines of 2016 continue to demonstrate the demand for lawyers who will represent the interests and address the needs of the Latino community," said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "The awe-inspiring achievements and future trajectories of our scholarship recipients provide strong reason for great hope about meeting that demand in the future."

Each year, MALDEF asks a national Law School Scholarship Committee of leading attorneys to help select our scholarship recipients.

"It is an honor to support this year's recipients, who represent the exceptional talent of the next generation of legal advocates and community leaders," said Jose Sanchez, former MALDEF Board Member, Partner at Sidley Austin LLP, and chair of this year's committee. "MALDEF's Law School Scholarship Program is an investment in the scholars as much as it is in the future of our legal profession. We thank the major funders of this program and the members of MALDEF's Law School Scholarship Committee for truly understanding the importance of this investment."

MALDEF's Law School Scholarship Program is open to all law students enrolled at an accredited United States law school.

MALDEF's Law School Scholarship Committee assesses applicants based on four main factors: 1) personal background and financial need; 2) academic and extracurricular achievement; 3) demonstrated commitment to serving the Latino community, shown through academic, extracurricular, or professional record of service; and 4) future plans to advance the rights of Latinos. Applications for the 2016-2017 MALDEF Law School Scholarship Program, due January 17, 2017, are available for download HERE and at our website,

MALDEF thanks the Hearst Foundation, Walmart, Toyota, and the Law School Scholarship Committee for their generous support of our 2015-2016 Law School Scholarship Program. Donations may be made to MALDEF's Law School Scholarship Program HERE.

MALDEF'S 2015-2016 Law School Scholarship Recipients:

Nefi Acosta

University of California, Irvine School of Law (UC Irvine)

Nefi immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was two months old. He worked to pay for his school because he was unable to obtain financial aid due to his immigration status. Nefi is the first member of his family to graduate from college. He recently graduated from the UC Irvine School of Law, where he completed more than 230 hours of pro bono work. Currently, Nefi is clerking for the Honorable Thelton E. Henderson in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Daysi Alonzo

University of California, Los Angeles School of Law (UCLA)

Daysi Alonzo is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Raised in South Gate, California, she is currently a second-year student at UCLA School of Law pursuing specializations in Critical Race Studies and Public Interest Law and Policy. Daysi is a first-generation college graduate. She received her undergraduate degree in communication studies from UCLA. Daysi recently externed for the Honorable André Birotte Jr. in the U.S. Central District of California. Before law school, she was a researcher for the judicial nominations team at the Department of Justice, Office of Legal Policy. Daysi hopes to continue her public service career by advocating on behalf of low-wage workers in Los Angeles.

Anavictoria Avila

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Anavictoria's passion to become an attorney for juveniles is rooted in her past. Her family suffered years of domestic violence by her father, with custody proceedings that lasted seven years. She attended the University of California, Berkeley and is now at Northwestern Law. Both at Berkeley and now at Northwestern, she has served and mentored youth through various community projects and legal service organizations, including Centro Legal de La Raza, the Family Violence Appellate Project, the ACLU, and the Juvenile Unit of the San Francisco Public Defender's Office. After graduation, Anavictoria plans to return to California to work with a public interest organization serving youth in conflict with the law.

Krsna Avila

Cornell Law School

Krsna came to the United States when he was four months old. After two decades as an undocumented immigrant, he obtained lawful permanent residency and applied to law school. Currently, he is enrolled at Cornell Law School, where he has served as the president of the Latino American Law Students Association and helped establish the first public interest symposium. As part of the asylum clinic, Krsna also helped remand a petition for an asylum-seeker from the Board of Immigration Appeals. His work at the ACLU of Northern California and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has prepared him to represent low-income immigrants.

Fabián Sánchez Coronado

University of California, Davis School of Law (UC Davis)

Fabián Sánchez Coronado is a second-year law student at the UC Davis School of Law. Born in Mexico, he came to the United States when he was nine years old. He received his B.A. in political science and American Studies & Ethnicity from the University of Southern California, becoming the first member of his family to graduate from college. Before attending law school, Fabián worked as an immigration organizer with the United Farm Workers Foundation in Bakersfield, California. His experience as an immigrant helped steer him towards a career in legal advocacy.

Nadia Farjood

Harvard Law School

Passionate about public advocacy, Nadia Farjood is a student attorney at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, where she provides free counsel for low-income clients in Boston and Cambridge seeking support with family law and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases. Before law school, Nadia worked at Political Parity, a non-partisan nonprofit advancing women's political representation. There, she managed LatinasRepresent, a national initiative promoting Latina leadership in public service, alongside the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality, and the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado. A champion for a reflective and effective democracy, Nadia hopes to work in civil rights law.

Jorge Guerreiro

University of California, Los Angeles School of Law (UCLA)

Jorge Guerreiro is the son of Cuban and Nicaraguan immigrants. He became the first person in his family to graduate from a university in the United States in 2012 when he received a B.A. in sociology from the University of Southern California. He has worked on various issues, including education, mental health, and immigration. Jorge is interested in helping students of color gain access to educational opportunities. He is currently enrolled at UCLA School of Law where he joined the Critical Race Studies Program. After graduation, he hopes to practice immigration law or work as a public defender.

Adrian Hernandez

University of California, Los Angeles School of Law (UCLA)

Adrian Hernandez is the youngest son of a Mexican mother born in Jalisco and a Chicano father born in East Los Angeles. His parents' compassion and activism inspired Adrian to pursue a career in public interest law. After graduating from Wesleyan University, Adrian knew he wanted to fight for the rights of marginalized communities. He spent four years working as an investigator for the public defender's office in Brooklyn, New York. Adrian is a member of the Epstein Public Interest Law and Policy Program and the Critical Race Studies Program at UCLA School of Law.

Irene Lopez

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Irene Lopez is the first in her family to attend law school. Her first-hand experiences with the juvenile justice system while growing up in an underprivileged neighborhood, and later having a child at a young age have fueled her commitment to make changes in her community. During law school, she served as co-president for the Latino Law Students Association, where she instituted new initiatives to support Latino law school students, and encourage Latinos to pursue legal degrees. After graduation, Irene will continue to advocate for the most vulnerable members of the Latino community.

Ricardo Lopez

University of California, Irvine School of Law (UC Irvine)

Ricardo Lopez is the son of Mexican immigrants and a recent graduate of UC Irvine School of Law. While there, Ricardo was co-chair of the Latino/a Law Student Association, and involved in the Immigrant Rights Clinic. He also participated in the National Latino/a Law Student Association Moot Court competition, where UC Irvine won Best Petitioner's Brief. Ricardo earned a B.A. in international studies in 2009 and an M.A. in American Government from Johns Hopkins University.

Vivian Martin

University of California, Los Angeles School of Law (UCLA)

As a Mexican American, Vivian always felt a connection with the plight of undocumented immigrants, particularly given the struggles of some family members. Vivian was inspired by her background to pursue a career in immigration law, and is a second-year student at UCLA School of Law where serves as La Raza Law Student Association's academic co-chair. During the summer she participated in the Mexican American Bar Association's Federal Judicial Extern Program. She externed at the U.S. District Court. Prior to law school, Vivian earned her B.A. in history, graduating cum laude from UCLA.

Jenecia Martinez

University of Southern California Gould School of Law (USC)

As the daughter of immigrants, Jenecia grew up in Inglewood, California witnessing the vast privilege disparity that plagues her community. Her background and experiences motivated her to help disenfranchised communities. She attended USC where she earned a B.S. in public policy, and volunteered for the JusticeCorps court program. At law school, she immersed herself in poverty law practice areas such as education, health, and housing. After graduation, Jenecia will be at the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. working at their Medical-Legal Partnership in Brownsville where she will be advocating for low-income clients in education, housing, and public benefits law.

Berenice Medellín

University of Texas School of Law

Berenice Medellín is a first-generation college graduate from the University of Texas at Austin. She was born and raised in Mexico City and moved to Dallas, Texas at the age of 11. Berenice is a recent law school graduate from the University of Texas School of Law. While in law school, Berenice remained committed to two of her greatest passions –– leadership and service –– by engaging in numerous pro bono projects. Berenice plans to pursue a litigation practice and will continue to advocate for vulnerable members of our society.

Paul Monge-Rodriguez

University of California, Berkeley School of Law (UC Berkeley)

Paul Monge-Rodriguez is the eldest son of Salvadoran immigrants who settled in San Francisco after escaping civil war and political turmoil in El Salvador. Passionate about social and economic justice, he completed his undergraduate degree at University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master's in public policy at Harvard University before returning to the Bay Area to work as a union organizer and a public education advocate. A second-year law student, Paul also serves as a member of the University of California Board of Regents, representing the needs of the 240,000 students that make up the 10-campus UC system.

David Osorio

University of California, Hastings College of the Law (UC Hastings)

David Osorio is the son of a Salvadoran mother who came to the United States in 1980 in order to escape El Salvador's civil war. Given his background, David developed his interests in employee and immigrants' rights during his undergraduate years at University of California, Los Angeles. David has focused on advocating for immigrant workers as a clinic counselor for the Workers' Rights Clinic in San Francisco. After graduation, David hopes to continue bridging the gap between immigration and employment law in order to provide a vast array of direct and accessible services to undocumented workers.

Karla Perez

University of Houston Law Center

Karla Perez immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was she was two years old. They came in search of educational opportunities not available in Mexico. As an undergraduate intern at the University of Houston Law Center's Immigration Clinic, she discovered her passion for serving other immigrants. Last summer, she interned at MALDEF’s Southwest Regional Office where she worked on issues related to family detention. Currently a student attorney at her law school's immigration clinic, she continues to organize and advocate for immigrants' rights in Texas. After graduation, she plans to practice law as a public interest immigration attorney.

Maria Rivera

Loyola Law School

Maria was raised by a single mother and is the first person in her family to graduate from law school. From an early age, she worked and cared for her younger brother and ill grandmother. After witnessing first-hand the injustices that vulnerable employees endure, Maria became committed to using the law to challenge the bureaucracy that takes advantage of low-income communities. She has externed for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, volunteered with Bet Tzedek's Employment Rights Clinic, and worked as a law clerk for Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP. Maria recently graduated from Loyola Law School and externed for the Honorable Teresa Sanchez-Gordon. She plans to practice employment and civil rights law.

Susana Ruiz

University of Washington School of Law

Susana Ruiz is the daughter of a Mexican immigrant farm worker who came to the United States looking for work and stability. Passionate about increasing minority representation in higher education, she interned with the Idaho Community Action Network in college to register young voters and promote higher education among the immigrant farm worker youth. Continuing this passion at the University of Washington School of Law, Susana is part of several student organizations including the Latina/o Law Student Associations. After graduation, Susana aspires to be a juvenile justice lawyer.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund