UHLC 'Fellows' will work summer public service jobs here and abroad 

May 23, 2016 – Twenty-five University of Houston Law Center students have been awarded fellowships from the school to work this summer at non-profit, public interest agencies and government offices.

An additional 10 students will be spending the summer abroad as "Global Fellows," working for similar agencies in Canada, India, Mexico, and Panama.

The 2015 Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program subsidizes weekly salaries for students who have expressed an interest in practicing public service law after graduation. Participating local organizations include Lone Star Legal Aid, Neighborhood Centers, Lakewood Church, Children at Risk, and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Governmental agencies include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Idaho, and the Texas Attorney General's Office in addition to numerous other agencies at the local, state, and federal levels.

While students have been interning in Mexico for years, most recently arranged through the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law, the Global Fellowship program was expanded in 2015 by Dean Leonard M. Baynes to include additional countries.

"I am excited that I am able to help students pursue public interest summer opportunities, both domestically and internationally, with fellowship stipends," Baynes said. "The fellows program gives students an opportunity to get real world legal experience while also providing the opportunity to serve our larger domestic and global communities."

Each of this year's fellows expressed a strong commitment to public service and believes the experience they gain this summer will prove invaluable in helping them reach their personal and professional goals.

"Every facet of public interest law is connected to bettering other people and communities," said David R. Lopez, 2L, who was inspired to pursue a career in the field after hearing as an undergraduate then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speak about helping others escape poverty, end cycles of violence, and find justice in their lives. "I find this type of work important because any small effort on my part can have a huge difference on someone else's life, causing a ripple effect."

Lopez will be interning this summer at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Washington, D.C. The agency works to protect refugees around the world and ensures that the U.S. is in compliance with all international laws and conventions.

In an election year when refugees have become a focal point, Lopez said, "I hope to gain a better understanding of the legal protections and remedies many refugees can obtain as well as a better understanding of how to bring about change through public policy and advocacy. "

A career in the public service sector has been a long-term goal of Karla Perez, 1L, who has served as an immigrant rights advocate and community organizer.

"I want to use my legal skills in the future to represent indigent immigrant women and children," said Perez, who will intern this summer with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) at its Southwest Regional Office in San Antonio. "I also want to use my legal education to advance policies and legislation for social change in the immigrant community." 

The Public Interest Fellowship program is open to all 1Ls, 2Ls, and part-time 3Ls in good academic standing. Each applicant must arrange his or her own position with an organization or agency. Fellows will receive $400 a week for working 35-40 hours per week for a minimum of five weeks and a maximum of 10.

"We are fortunate to have a fellowship program that supports students in a wide variety of public service positions both domestically and abroad," said Allison Regan, assistant dean for Career Development. "Through this program, students are able to gain valuable legal experience, serve the public, and develop a better appreciation for long term career goals."

The Global Fellowship Program is also open to all 1Ls, 2Ls, and part-time 3Ls in good academic standing. LL.M. candidates also may apply. Each applicant must arrange his or her own position with an organization or agency. Previous summer internships in Mexico were unpaid, but under this program fellows will receive a maximum $4,000 in financial assistance from the Law Center.

"I am passionate about women and children's rights and believe working in the public interest field is the best way for me to advance these causes," said Camille Van Kote, 2L. She will be taking a human rights course and interning with the Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights in Mexico City.

"I was inspired to learn about another culture and be in an international setting," she added. "I hope to become a better legal advocate so I can also work with the diverse and international Houston communities."

The 2016 Summer Public Interest Fellows are: 1Ls, Paige Bailey, Christina Beeler, Rachel Carter, Kourtney Collins, Melanie Fridgant, Alexis Guadaramma, Caroline Ibrahim, Brittnie Lasater, Brandon Lee, Josh Mathews, Jonathan Miller, Karla Perez, Tiffany Persaud, Rachel Sullivan, Tressa Surrat, Xiliang "Jay" Zhang; and 2Ls, Candace Ashford, Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, Simone Bray, Kevin Cirronella, Kalina Dalal, Bobby Dale, Zeinab Kachmar, David Lopez, and Christopher Vartian.

Students awarded global fellowships are:  1Ls, Fernando Basilio, Ernesto Danache, Gloriana Gonzalez, Sara Roque, Carlos Ruiz, and Julia Valencia; and 2Ls, Julian Dominguez, Hellieth Guzman, Camille Van Kote, and Victor Zertuche.

2016 Fellowship Awardees

Candace Ashford
Candace Ashford
Office of Counsel to the Inspector General (Dpt. of Health and Human Services),D.C.
Paige Bailey
Paige Bailey
City Attorney's Office, League City
Christina Beeler
Christina Beeler
Lone Star Legal Aid
Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey
Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Idaho
Simone Bray
Simone Bray
Department of Justice - ENRD
Rachel Carter
Rachel Carter
Juvenile Capital Advocacy Project
Kevin Cirronella
Kevin Cirronella
Harris County District Attorney's Office
Kourtney Collins
Kourtney Collins
Texas Attorney General's Office
Kalina Dalal
Kalina Dalal
Children at Risk
Bobby Dale
Bobby Dale
Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation
Melanie Fridgant
Melanie Fridgant
Texas Civil Rights Project
Alexis Guadaramma
Alexis Guadaramma
Human Rights First
Caroline Ibrahim
Caroline Ibrahim
Neighborhood Centers, Inc.
Zeinab Kachmar
Zeinab Kachmar
UTMB - Galveston
Brittnie Lasatar
Brittnie Lasatar
Houston Methodist Hospital
Brandon Lee
Brandon Lee
Department of Veterans Affairs
David Lopez
David Lopez
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Josh Mathews
Josh Mathews
Lakewood Church
Jonathan Miller
Jonathan Miller
City of Pearland/Court Prosecutor
Karla Perez
Karla Perez
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Tiffany Persaud
Tiffany Persaud
The Museum of Fine Arts
Rachel Sullivan
Rachel Sullivan
Disability Rights Texas
Tressa Surrat
Tressa Surrat
Texas Innocence Network - Captial Division
Christopher Vartian
Christopher Vartian
Texas Attorney General's Office
Xiliang  Zhang
Xiliang "Jay" Zhang
Texas Innocence Network - Captial Division
     

 

2016 Global Fellowship

Fernando Basilio
Fernando Basilio 1L
México's National Hydrocarbons Comission (CNH), Mexico City
Ernesto Danache
Ernesto Danache 1L
PEMEX, Mexico City
Julian Dominguez
Julian Dominguez 2L
Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Montreal, Quebec
Gloriana Gonzalez
Gloriana Gonzalez 1L
Center for ADR Methods at the Supreme Court of Panama
Hellieth Guzman
Hellieth Guzman 2L
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE), Mexico City
Sara Roque
Sara Roque 1L
México's National Hydrocarbons Comission (CNH), Mexico City
Carlos Ruiz
Carlos Ruiz 1L
México's National Hydrocarbons Comission (CNH), Mexico City
Julia Valencia
Julia Valencia 1L
PEMEX, Mexic City
Camille Van Kote
Camille Van Kote 2L
Womens' Global Network for Reproductive Rights, Mexico City
Victor Zertuche
Victor Zertuche 2L
National Green Tribunal, New Delhi, India
   

 

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