2019 Fellows

Alondra Vázquez López is a junior double majoring in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and Art at Yale University. She was born in the Bay Area, California and is a first-generation Guatemalan-Mexican who is passionate about immigrant justice. She participates in advocacy initiatives with immigrants of the New Haven community, as well as clubs that help the community like translating immigrant asylum cases in Spanish for law students or tutoring adults in English to help them enforce this skill and later apply it in their careers in the U.S. She also spends time tutoring younger populations in New Haven at a bilingual Spanish-English school, provide mentor resources and college guidance for fellow low-income, first-generation high school students in New Haven, and tutor formerly incarcerated individuals for the GED. In the future, she hopes to pursue law school in order to keep helping immigrant and other underserved communities through legal reform. She will be placed with CLINIC.

Berenice Davila Gonzalez is a rising junior at Berea College, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. She was born in Coahuila, Mexico and was raised in the Gulf Coast of Texas. As a Communications and Advocacy Fellow with United We Dream (UWD) she produced briefings that supported state and local campaign efforts while also conducting advocacy trainings that facilitated community engagement with elected officials. She aims to use her knowledge of the immigration detention process from her experience as a UWD MigraWatch Hotline volunteer to help rewrite the narratives used to criminalize black and brown communities. At Berea, she organizes alongside Kentuckians For The Commonwealth as an advocate for issues like environmental protections through a Just Transition that is both reparative and equitable. Additionally, she has been honored by the Corella & Bertram F. Bonner Foundation in recognition of her commitment to service. She will begin the fall semester 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 Berea, 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.

Cindy Reyes was born in San Francisco to two immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador. She is a QuestBridge College Match scholar studying Political Science and Urban Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. 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. Cindy has worked at UPenn’s Civic House, where she collaborated with local Philadelphia nonprofits to coordinate a community engagement program. She has prior experience in civil rights law as an intern at the Public Interest Law Center in Philadelphia that pursues class actions lawsuits on behalf of low-income Philadelphians. She also is a part of UPenn’s Cell to Home Project that meets with incarcerated women at one of PA’s state prisons and helps write their letters for commutation. She will be placed with the Public Policy Project at Lawyers’ Committee.

Ethan Morelión is a rising senior at Brown University concentrating in Political Science with a focus on American Politics and Engaged Scholarship. Having experienced the adverse effects of harmful legislation that limited educational opportunities and reproductive healthcare access in his rural small town in Texas, he has worked to become a changemaker in these fields. Ethan is an experienced political organizer and researcher with an extensive background collaborating with communities in Texas and Rhode Island to work to create change in the areas of education access, reproductive rights, and immigrants’ rights. Previously, Ethan interned at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) where he worked to defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, fight for educational equity in West Texas, and advocate for the rights of HIV+ immigrant detainees. Most recently, he conducted research with Dr. Domingo Morel of Rutgers University — Newark on the history of affirmative action and college access programs for historically marginalized populations. At Brown, Ethan is a Public Policy & Advocacy fellow with Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, a coordinator for the university’s Sexual Assault Peer Education program, and a founding member of the Brown Latinx Political Coalition. His plans include becoming a public interest lawyer and using his experiences to provide valuable insight to fight for forgotten communities like his, on a national scale. He will be placed with the Educational Opportunities Project at Lawyers’ Committee.

Jazmine Lahbabi is the proud daughter of immigrants from Mexico and Morocco. Growing up along the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California, she discovered her passion for uplifting marginalized communities and advocating for immigrants’ rights. From the age of 16, she served as a tutor for underrepresented children and later as a Peer Navigator for first-generation college students. In addition to being an honors student at San Diego Mesa College, Jazmine co-founded the Diversity Club and served as an Associated Student Senator. Through these opportunities, she was able to travel to Sacramento and Washington, D.C. to advocate for undocumented students’ safety. In April 2017, she passed a unanimous resolution contributing to her college’s recognition as a sanctuary campus. She has received scholarships and spoken on panels regarding her community work and advocacy efforts. Today, Jazmine is an honors student at the University of California, Irvine, majoring in Social Policy and Public Service, and finalizing her research on mixed-status families. She currently interns for the Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, helping lawful permanent residents become U.S. citizens. Jazmine hopes to find her role in advancing human rights for all immigrants through her placement with the National Immigration Law Center.

Lara Adekeye is driven by her commitment to racial equity and liberation. She is a current senior at Boston University studying Political Science and African American Studies who is constantly finding ways to intersect her interests in social science research, racial justice, and policy. She has been passionate about racial justice for as long as she can remember, and from her work as a high school student at the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, she was captivated by the role of legal research and advocacy in the advancement of racial justice. From then on she has been passionate about advocating for others through this lens. 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. She attributes her wealth of experiences to her supportive family and her experience with the education system. Once internalizing how all of these issues intersect, and how her educational journey has contributed to her current trajectory, Lara has been diligent about working to combat the systematic ways in which quality educational paths are disproportionately deprived of many students who share her same race and class background. Lara approaches her passions with a keen focus on the role of the classroom and is committed to the enforcement of the right to educational opportunity for all students, particularly Black and Latino students. Lara is excited to join the Lawyers’ Committee’s Educational Opportunities Project and to work with a cohort of social justice-minded students from around the country.

Melissa Denizard is an activist, a documentarian, YouTuber, blogger, and student at Babson College. As an activist, she uses her many talents, including public speaking, film, and the written word, to bring attention to the intersections of race, gender, and social class in the United States. She also uses digital media as a medium to spread her message of social justice and equity through videography and graphic design. Melissa runs a blog both on YouTube and her personal website that focuses on the intersection of race, gender, and social class in pop culture and politics. In 2018, her YouTube video, “Unbraid with Me: Is Hair Political?” was featured on Brut Media and Refinery29. Later that year, her blog post, “Don’t Tell Me to Smile: A Commentary on Harassment in the Service Industry” was adapted into a TEDx talk for TEDxTarrytown. 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.

Rula Thabata is a senior at Loyola University New Orleans studying political science with minors in Middle East Peace Studies and Sociology. As a student, she has been involved in many organizations from being an orientation leader to the president of Women in Politics. Rula is a community organizer with a passion for change and social justice. She plans on attending law school in the near future to fight for the rights of marginalized communities. She will be placed with the Public Policy Project at Lawyers’ Committee.

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.