Congrats to the 2019 FirstGEN Fellows!

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Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC), the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), and the Washington, D.C., office of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) are excited to announce the 2019 FirstGEN Fellows summer class: Lara Adekeye, Berenice Davila, Melissa Denizard, Tauheed Islam, Jazmine Lahbabi, Ethan Morelion, Cindy Reyes, Rula Thabata, Alondra Vazquez Lopez. We congratulate the 2019 FirstGEN Fellows cohort!

FirstGEN Fellows is a 10-week summer program for undergraduate students interested in social justice careers who are the first in their immediate families to attend an institution of higher education. Fellows gain hands-on experience working on civil rights matters as full-time policy and advocacy interns in Washington, D.C., while also participating in a parallel training program. FirstGEN Fellows creates a greater community of advocates by linking emerging leaders with existing ones and creating a FirstGEN Fellows alumni network.

Learn more about by going to facebook.com/FirstGENFellows and following @FirstGENFellows on Twitter and Instagram

Cindy Reyes, born in San Francisco to two immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador, is a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Political Science and Urban Studies. She is interested in using the intersection of law, public policy, and research to address domestic, metropolitan issues such as housing, employment, public education, and other general welfare policy areas. She will join the Public Policy Project at the Lawyers’ Committee this summer.

Ethan Morelion is a rising senior at Brown University concentrating in Political Science with a focus on American Politics and Engaged Scholarship. Ethan wants to work as a public interest lawyer and is an experienced political organizer and researcher with an extensive background collaborating with communities in Texas and Rhode Island on education access, reproductive rights, and immigrants’ rights. Ethan will join the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee.

Rula Thabata is a senior at Loyola University New Orleans studying political science with minors in Middle East Peace Studies and Sociology. Rula is a community organizer with a passion for change and social justice and plans on attending law school to fight for the rights of marginalized communities. This summer, Rula will join the Public Policy Project at the Lawyers’ Committee.

Melissa Denizard, a current student at Babson College, is activist, a documentarian, Youtuber, and blogger whose work brings attention to the intersections of race, gender, and social class in the United States. This summer, Melissa will join the communications team at Lawyers’ Committee where she will build on her experiences using digital media as a medium to advance social justice and equity.

Lara Adekeye is a senior at Boston University studying Political Science and African American Studies with interests in social science research, racial justice, and policy. Through her work experiences with the ACLU, Boston City Hall, and Harvard Law School, Lara has been involved in rectifying issues such as the school to prison pipeline, predatory student lending, and residential segregation. Lara is excited to join the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee this summer.

Berenice Davila, born in Coahuila, Mexico and raised on the Gulf Coast of Texas, is a rising junior at Berea College, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. This fall, she will begin a term as President of the Latin American Student Association with the intention of serving the multi-faceted needs of Berea’s ever-growing Latinx community. After college, she hopes to return to the Southwest and organize around environmental justice issues while pursuing a law degree through which she can study the intersections between criminal and immigration law. Berenice will be placed with NILC.

Tauheed Islam is a junior at Harvard University studying Government where he volunteers at a student-run youth homeless shelter and tutors Harvard faculty preparing for the U.S. citizenship test. He was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and his family is from Bangladesh. He is a fierce advocate of the first-generation college student community at Harvard, serving as a representative on Harvard’s Undergraduate Council and as Community Chair in Harvard’s first-gen low-income student organization. He is excited to serve as a FirstGEN fellow for Advancing Justice | AAJC

Jazmine Lahbabi, a proud daughter of immigrants from Mexico and Morocco, grew up along the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California where she discovered her passion for uplifting marginalized communities and advocating for immigrants’ rights. Jazmine is an honors student at the University of California, Irvine, majoring in Social Policy and Public Service. Jazmine hopes to find her role in advancing human rights for all immigrants through her placement with the National Immigration Law Center.

Alondra Vazquez Lopez is a junior double majoring in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and Art at Yale University. Born in the Bay Area, Alondra is a first-generation Guatemalan-Mexican who is very passionate about immigrant justice. In addition to advocating for and supporting immigrant families in New Haven, Alondra spends time tutoring at bilingual Spanish-English schools and being a mentor for low-income, first-generation high school students in New Haven, and helping formerly incarcerated individuals prepare for the GED. Alondra will build on these experiences this summer at CLINIC.