2013 Recipients

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Monika Langarica, 3L-UC Berkeley
Mintz Levin Scholarship: $2000.00

 
Ms. Langarica was raised by a hard-working single mother in Southeast San Diego. She graduated cum laude with her Bachelor of Arts degree from USC in 2011.  She has earned many honors, including being named the USC LSA Latina of the Year in 2010.  Ms. Langarica is a San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association Public Interest Law Fellow and a Cruz Reynoso Social Justice Fellow as well as the Submissions Editor for the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal; she aspires to be a Public Defender. Professor Lopez, in his letter of recommendation for her, stated, “Monika exemplifies the best of Berkeley Law: a top student who remembers where she came from and aims to give back.”

 

Samantha Morales, 3L-Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Castillo Scholarship: $1500.00
 

Ms. Morales learned English as a second language as an elementary school student.  Despite losing both of her parents by the age of 11 and being diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 15, she worked full-time through high school and went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Davis in 2006.  She currently is the President of the La Raza Law Students Association at Thomas Jefferson and a Criminal Law Fellow.  Assistant Dean Wulfemeyer, in her letter of recommendation for her, stated, “I am convinced that Samantha represents the best of the best when it comes to developing not only the next generation of Latina leaders, but the next generation of leaders overall.”

 

Cristal Ruiz, 1L-California Western School of Law
Latinas in the Law Scholarship Award: $1500.00
 

Ms. Ruiz worked three jobs while earning her Bachelor of Arts degree from UCSD in 2010.  She was an AmeriCorps grant recipient and she participated in the Justice Corps internship program with the San Diego Superior Court for approximately six months in 2009 – 2010.  In the fall semester of 2011 she was a Public Policy Fellow for U.S. House of Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard.  She is currently volunteering with Passport to Life working with juveniles on probation to make better choices for their futures.  Judge Campos, in her letter of recommendation for Ms. Ruiz, stated, “She has the necessary common sense, determination, work ethic and people skills to succeed in law school and become an exemplary legal advocate.”

 

Christina Prejean, 1L-University of San Diego School of Law
USD Law, Class of ’96 C-Section Scholarship: $1250.00
 

Ms. Prejean is a native of San Diego and a first generation college student.  She is a decorated Air Force Captain who has participated in many volunteer programs.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Westmore College and Masters Degree from the University of Oklahoma.  After completing her Masters program she was deployed to Afghanistan for a year.  She is interested in women’s rights, immigration, and International development.  Dr. Penksa, in her letter of recommendation for Ms. Prejean, stated “She interned at the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center and had cross-cultural humanitarian experiences in Mexico, Guatemala, and Chile, all of which shaped her understanding of social inequities and commitment to be an agent of change.”

 

Karen Barragan, 2L-Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Scholarship Award: $1250.00
 

Ms. Barragan immigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was seven years old, learning English quickly and becoming the voice for her parents.  She worked three jobs in high school, graduated with honors, and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCSD.  She is the current Vice-President of the La Raza Law Students Association at Thomas Jefferson and her career goals are to become an advocate for immigrant families.  Attorney Victor Torres, in his letter of recommendation for her, stated, “Ms. Barragan has been a pleasure to work with, has been very inquisitive and quick to learn, and has demonstrated her compassion and understanding for the clients we serve.”

 

Sonia Gutierrez, 1L-UCLA School of Law
Scholarship Award: $1250.00
 

Ms. Gutierrez grew up in Southern California and is a first generation =college student.  She graduated from Norwalk High School with a 4.4 GPA and college credit in four Advanced Placement classes.  She presented original research at an academic conference at Cornell University.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Berkeley in 2011 and is currently participating in legal clinics addressing immigration and LGBT issues.  Teresa Gonzales, in her letter of recommendation for Ms. Gutierrez, stated, “Since her days at UC Berkeley, and through her work as a legal assistant, Sonia has demonstrated in interest in linking knowledge with power and in serving as a catalyst for social change within the immigrant community.”

 

Marisol Ornelas, 2L-California Western School of Law
Scholarship Award: $1250.00
 

Ms. Ornelas is a former foster youth and first generation college student.  As an undergraduate she coordinated events to raise awareness of political and educational issues affecting students of color, including the initiation of La Raza Welcome Week to support incoming students.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Davis in 2011.  She has consistently volunteered with organizations addressing immigration and educational issues; her career goal is to open a public interest law firm.  Professor Zelaya, in her letter of recommendation for Ms. Ornelas, stated “Throughout my years of teaching at UC Davis, I have never met an undergraduate student so passionate and committed to fighting for the Latino community’s rights – students, graduate students, and workers.”

 

Hugo Salazar, 2L-Chapman School of Law
Scholarship Award: $1,250.00
 

Mr. Salazar immigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was 10 years old.  He graduated from Castle Park High School and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 2006 from UC Irvine where he was an Order of Merit award recipient.  He volunteered as a youth advocate with gang-affiliated youth who were involved with the juvenile justice system and co-founded the group Communities Taking Action to provide community information, organization, and support in addressing environmental issues in Chula Vista.  Judge Stock, in her letter of recommendation for Mr. Salazar, states “Without hesitation, I can say that he has the drive, perseverance, and intelligence to thrive in law school and in the legal profession.”

 

Priscilla Askar, 2L-Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Scholarship Award: $1250.00
 

Ms. Askar was raised by her single father in Los Angeles, California.  Two years after her father’s death, she became the 20 year-old legal guardian of her 10 year-old younger brother.  While raising her brother, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree from CSU Northridge.  She was on the Distinguished Honor Roll both semesters of her 1L year, is active in many student law associations, and currently is an officer with the La Raza Law Students Association at Thomas Jefferson.  Professor Mitnick, in his letter of recommendation for her, stated “I am confident that Ms. Askar will make a strong and meaningful societal impact as an attorney, and that her efforts will reflect positively on the SDLRLA.”

 

Erika Orjales, 3L-California Western School of Law
Scholarship Award: $1,250.00
 

Ms. Orjales spent the majority of her childhood in Puerto Rico before immigrating to the U.S. and graduating from high school in Stockton, California.  She worked full-time while earning her Bachelor of Arts degree from UCSD in 2009.  Currently, Ms. Orjales is volunteering at the San Diego Legal Aid Society, working full-time at Fredrickson, Mazeika, & Grant, where she started as a file clerk, and is actively involved in student law societies, including the La Raza Law Student Association at Cal Western.  Attorney von Kelsch, in her letter of recommendation, stated “Erika is an extremely hard-working self-starter who invariably understands that success is not an entitlement, rather a privilege earned through hard work, perseverance, and creative problem solving.”

 

Alyssa Ruiz de Esparza, 3L-University of San Diego School of Law
Scholarship Award: $1,250.00

Ms. Ruiz de Esparza is a native of Southern California who was raised by a single mother.  She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of San Francisco in 2008.  She participated in the Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court competition as part of a two-person team in Washington DC.  She is currently a legal intern with the General Counsel’s office for the San Diego Unified School District and an Administrative Hearing Officer presiding over parking citation appeals.  Program Director Agustin Lopez II, in his letter of recommendation for her, stated “We selected Ms. Ruiz de Esparza [as a student hearing officer] primarily for her demeanor and enthusiasm for contributing positively to the San Diego community.”