About USC Gould
USC Gould is a top-ranked law school with a 120-year history and reputation for academic excellence. We are located on the beautiful 228-acre USC University Park Campus, just south of downtown Los Angeles.
Learn about our interdisciplinary curriculum, experiential learning opportunities and specialized areas.
USC Gould helps prepare you for a stellar legal career. You can pursue a JD degree, one of our numerous graduate and international offerings, or an online degree or certificate.
Participate in an unparalleled learning experience with diversity of people and thought. Get involved in the law school community and participate in activities that enhance your studies.
We work closely with students, graduates and employers to support successful career goals and outcomes. Our overall placement rate is consistently strong, with 94 percent of our JD class employed within 10 months after graduation.
Our faculty is distinguished for its scholarship, as well as for its commitment to teaching. Our 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio creates an intimate and collegial learning environment.
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Public Interest Scholars - Juris Doctor (JD)
USC Gould School of Law
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Building upon USC Gould's longstanding tradition of legal service in the public interest, our Public Interest Scholars program honors the commitment of our students who are dedicated to serving the public interest. In addition to a merit-based scholarship awarded after admission, the benefits of selection as a Public Interest Scholar include:
- access to the Public Interest Law certificate and mentorship opportunities
- assistance from faculty and career services to secure employment in public interest legal work for the 1L summer. Previous scholars have secured placements in California, New York City, and Washington, D.C.
- a guaranteed stipend to support unpaid 1L summer employment
- eligibility to secure a stipend during 2L summer employment if working in qualifying public interest employment
- a one-time travel stipend during the second or third year to support attendance to a professional development conference or opportunity focused on public interest law
- future opportunities to engage the public interest community and mentor subsequent groups of Public Interest Scholars
Scholars are selected on the basis of merit and demonstrated commitment to public interest work. Selection criteria include strong academic indicators (LSAT score and undergraduate cumulative GPA) and significant achievements in the fields of public interest work or government service. The committee will give priority to applicants with a history of full-time nonprofit or public interest focused work.
To apply, applicants will be required to include a separate essay within the application for admission to USC Gould. This essay is in addition to the required personal statement and optional diversity statement. The essay should address the following prompt: In one to two pages, please highlight your public interest or government service background and your commitment to a career in public service.
Scholars will be expected to perform 25 pro bono hours each year and participate in certain programming, such as nonprofit career fairs.
For timely consideration in selection as a Public Interest Scholar, an application must be submitted and complete by the priority deadline of February 1st.
2022-23 Public Interest Scholars
Undergraduate: Claremont McKenna College
Samantha was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley region of Southern California. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Claremont McKenna College where she dual-majored in Government and Gender & Women’s Studies. Samantha also completed an accelerated graduate program while an undergraduate and received a Master’s degree from Claremont Graduate University in Public Policy. While attending Claremont McKenna, Samantha was a campus leader focused on gender equity and sexual violence prevention which resulted in her selection as one of ten women from across the nation chosen to serve on the American Association of University Women’s National Student Advisory Council.
Before starting law school, Samantha had a successful public sector career as a Human Resources professional. During this time, she served as a Human Resources Analyst for San Bernardino County where she was responsible for county-wide IT recruiting, managed HR modernization efforts, and spoke across the region encouraging local students to pursue careers in government. Additionally, while with San Bernardino County, she later served as an Equal Employment Opportunity Analyst where she led compliance and policy trainings, spearheaded diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, and conducted discrimination and ethics investigations. Through both her career and volunteer work, Samantha has been a passionate advocate for the educational rights of disabled youth and disability benefits and transitional services for military veterans.
Undergraduate: UC Los Angeles
Mairead Ahlbach grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated summa cum laude in 2019 from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a double major in political science and international development studies and a minor in Spanish language. A highlight of Mairead’s college experience was the semester she spent in South America through UCLA's Human Rights and Cultural Memory Program, where she studied the social, political, and cultural reinvention and reforms in post-dictatorship societies in Argentina and Chile. During undergrad, Mairead also worked for two years as a volunteer director of Camp Kesem at UCLA, a branch of a national nonprofit that supports children through a parent’s battle with cancer.
After graduation, Mairead pursued her interest in public service at the Judicial Council of California, the policymaking body of the state’s court system. Mairead worked as an analyst in the agency’s Criminal Justice Services division on the branch’s efforts to improve pretrial programs across the state, including those aimed at determining potential racial bias at the pretrial stage and developing judicial education programs. She also served as staff to the Council’s Ad Hoc Workgroup on Post-Pandemic Initiatives, a committee appointed by California’s Chief Justice to examine court practices adopted during the pandemic and recommend those that would increase access to justice.
Mairead is thrilled to join the Public Interest Scholars program at Gould, where she hopes to explore opportunities related to civil rights law, public defense, and policy work. In her free time, Mairead enjoys traveling, going to Giants games, and spending time with her dog, Gilligan.
Undergraduate: Cornell University
Raised in Madison, WI, Jeremy graduated cum laude from Cornell University in 2018 where he studied Government and Spanish with a focus on US domestic policy. Jeremy completed his honors thesis on the effects of private school voucher programs in Wisconsin. Upon graduation, Jeremy moved to Nashville, TN, where he began his career as a housing paralegal at the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee. There he developed a passion for public interest work and the legal field while providing eviction defense and housing discrimination support for low-income community members.
Before joining Gould as a Public Interest and Honors Scholar, Jeremy continued his housing work as a case manager in a Rapid Re-Housing program for young adults experiencing homelessness. He then worked as a manager of housing partnerships and co-founded the Low Barrier Housing Collective, a coordinated property engagement effort to increase housing options for unhoused Nashvillians. Jeremy looks forward to honing his advocacy skills at Gould and continuing to pursue policy solutions that improve the lives of marginalized Americans. Outside of work Jeremy enjoys rock climbing, cooking with his wife, and taking his dog on hikes.
Undergraduate: University of Arkansas
Carus was raised in Oklahoma City and attended the University of Arkansas where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Political Science, Sociology and Physics. In the summer after his first year, Carus was the program coordinator for Project Transformation, a literacy camp for elementary aged students from low-income families. It was after this experience that he decided to commit his career to public service.
Following graduation, he moved to Memphis to take an AmeriCorps position in an under-resourced school as a student success coach supporting an eighth-grade math classroom. While there, he ran a club for students aimed at empowering teenagers to use their voices to advocate for changes in their school and their community.
Prior to coming to USC, Carus volunteered for an AmeriCorps position with the Center of Employment Opportunities in San Jose, CA where he administered trainings to build hard and soft skills of individuals who were recently released from incarceration to re-enter society and find stable employment. He continued his work inspiring individuals to use their collective power to advocate for themselves by co-facilitating a workshop for justice-involved individuals across 8 other CEO offices in California.
A proud Oklahoman, Carus is excited to attend USC and learn from the amazing faculty and brilliant students to better impact his home community. In his free time, he likes to play basketball, listen to music and hike.
Undergraduate: California State University, Los Angeles
Originally from San Diego, Elan attended California State University, Los Angeles where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in history as a member of the campus’s Honors College.
During her undergraduate degree, Elan focused on engaging in public service, which led to her opportunities through the Panetta Institute for Public Policy’s Congressional Internship Program, the James R. Galbraith Fellowship, and the office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. Each of these programs allowed her to deepen her understanding of public policy and enabled her to see how the government operates on both the state and federal level. As Cal State LA’s delegate to the Panetta Institute, Elan worked in the office of Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33). That experience inspired her to continue following her passion for public service, where she would go on to intern for Senator Dianne Feinstein and later be selected as one of two interns for the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs James R. Galbraith Fellowship. As a Galbraith fellow, Elan worked in Governor Gavin Newsom’s Los Angeles office. After graduation, Elan was able to build on her previous experiences and serve for two years as a staffer in Senator Feinstein’s San Diego regional office.
Elan is grateful to be both a Gould Honors Scholar and a Public Interest Scholar, and is excited to be able to begin her career in law while also engaging the Los Angeles community. In her spare time, Elan enjoys weightlifting, playing video games, and expressing herself through art.
Undergraduate: UC Santa Barbara
Graduate: University of Manchester (UK)
Myonoway was born in Gardnersville, Liberia, during a civil war. When Myonoway emigrated to the United States, she realized the difference between an effective and ineffective government. She furthered this interest via a BA in Political Science at UC Santa Barbara and an MA in International Politics at the University of Manchester. Myonoway believes, at its core, an effective government protects and provides for its citizens, while an ineffective government fails to protect and provide and harms its citizen out of intrinsic interest. Living through a civil war had a lasting impact because of experiencing food insecurity and fear of bodily harm. Those experiences led Myonoway to a path in advocacy work.
In college, Myonoway worked on several grassroots campaigns; one, in particular, was to improve long-term care for seniors by providing paid training and higher wages for home care providers. After her master's degree, she joined the California Safe Corps and worked with the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. Myonoway launched the local implementation of the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign. The goal was to reduce fire fatalities by 25% over five years through education and installing free smoke alarms in high-risk communities. After AmeriCorps, Myonoway worked as a housing case manager to house and provide resources for people and families experiencing homelessness. It was through this position that Myonoway learned that there are laws that criminalize homelessness which ignited a passion for law.
Myonoway hopes to learn the legal analysis skills needed to advocate for the decriminalization of homelessness and is committed to a career in public service.
Undergraduate: George Washington University
Bishop hails from Cleveland, OH, where he was born and raised. Bishop received his Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from The George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he studied political science.
During his time at GW, Bishop took advantage of being in the heart of the nation’s capital by learning the systems of government through internships in both Houses of Congress as Intern to the House Majority Leader and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Bishop’s work with organizations like the Black Economic Alliance, Holland & Knight LLP Public Policy and Regulation Group, and the personal office of Former President Barack and Michelle Obama furthered his passion for improving government, public policy, and law. Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government recognized Bishop’s commitment to public service in 2020 when he was named a Public Policy Leadership Scholar in their 20th cohort.
Immediately following racial uprisings in 2020, Bishop found it imperative to unite with university faculty to create the Rethinking DC Youth and Policing Program at GW’s center for public service and civic engagement. Rethinking DC established a partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department to reduce youth arrests, develop dynamic solutions, and improve youth-police interactions.
Here at Gould, Bishop is also a Public Interest Scholar—where he will continue to dedicate time to learn about public interest opportunities and ways to use his J.D. to bring about progressive criminal justice reform. Bishop can’t wait to explore all that USC, the west coast, and the broader legal community offer.
Undergraduate: UC Berkeley
Erika Zheng hails from Los Angeles County and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2020, where she double majored in Economics and Political Economy. During her undergraduate career, Erika held internships at the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, the U.S. Green Building Council, and Earthjustice. These professional experiences led her to explore the relationship between governance, the built and natural environment, and the law. During her junior year, Erika was selected as one of six students to participate in a year-long academic exchange program at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Erika was hosted by LSE’s Department of Geography and Environment, where she had the opportunity to take coursework focused on urban geography and environmental governance.
After graduation, Erika worked at two private public interest law firms in the San Francisco Bay Area. She worked on a variety of public interest matters including a prison monitoring class-action lawsuit on behalf of mentally ill incarcerated Californians, a First Amendment civil rights lawsuit advocating for U.S. user access to a widely used Chinese social media platform, and cases involving gender discrimination in the workplace.
Erika is thrilled to join a community of public interest scholars at USC Gould committed to building a more equitable society through the law. Fight on!
2021-22 Public Interest Scholars
Undergraduate: Hunter College
Teodora Cupac grew up in New York City and graduated from Hunter College in 2019 with a BA in Political Science and Environmental Science with a Concentration in Management and Policy. As an undergraduate, she was part of Hunter's Public Service Scholar Program, where she completed her fellowship placement at the New York City Mayor's Office of Sustainability. There, she implemented data modeling techniques to best organize and analyze agency outreach and equity practices.
After graduation, she participated in the PreProBono Law Fellowship and was selected to lead the program as director the following cycle. As director, she supported non-traditional law school applicants, passionate about pursing public interest law, through their LSAT and law school application process. At PreProBono, Teodora had the opportunity to lead an incredibly talented cohort of students and work towards advancing the mission of diversifying law school classrooms and in turn the legal profession itself.
Teodora is honored to be part of the Public Interest Scholars Program. She is very excited about attending USC Gould School of Law and learning what it takes to be an advocate and changemaker in the legal field.
Undergraduate: Kalamazoo College
Alivia Combe DuQuet grew up in Northville, Michigan. She attended Kalamazoo College, where she played women's lacrosse. Alivia graduated cum laude in 2017 with a dual degree in political science and women's, gender, and sexuality studies. Alivia spent her junior year studying abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica, through a program focused on sustainable development and human rights. This opportunity provided her with a global perspective that shaped her understanding of international human rights. She possesses a zeal for understanding complex social issues and developing effective solutions.
Following the completion of her bachelor's degree, Alivia worked at an immigration law firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Inspired to create change in her local community, Alivia spent nights working as an intern on the race for U.S. Congress in her district. She later took on a full-time role with the campaign, which became one of the most influential races in the country. After the successful campaign, Alivia moved to Washington, D.C., and became a political fundraising consultant with Fulkerson Kennedy & Company, working for top U.S. Senate campaigns.
Alivia is determined to advocate for underserved communities, particularly on behalf of laborers. She is a proud Michigander who spends her free time reading, running, baking or caring for her plants.
Undergraduate: Franklin & Marshall College
Thomas M. Fogel Burlan was born in California and raised in Philadelphia. He attended Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with a joint major in government and American studies and a minor in music performance, graduating cum laude with multiple student awards in 2018. As an undergraduate, Thomas took on many leadership positions in extracurricular activities, including with the College Democrats and F&M Debate, while earning a coveted spot as a writing tutor at the F&M Writing Center. His summer internships included working with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia as a Tourish Fellow in the sexual offense and domestic violence division and at the Richard Nixon Foundation researching and producing memos about Middle Eastern foreign policy.
Following college, Thomas's deep-seated interest in politics led him to join the Public Interest Network, where he gained hands-on experience with political organizing. Within TPIN, he worked at PennEnvironment as the Delaware County Climate Defender Organizer, and with Work For Progress as a campaign director in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, for the 2018 midterm elections. Thomas then joined the office of his hometown's newly elected state representative, Jennifer O'Mara, to serve as a constituent services advisor and as social media coordinator. Thomas's primary roles were communicating with constituents seeking critical government services and sharing up-to-date information through Representative O'Mara's social channels throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a proud Jewish American, Thomas has a strong sense of justice that is deeply informed by the concept of Tikkun Olam, or "repair of the world."" Thomas is thrilled to join the Trojan Family and the public interest community at USC Gould, and is honored and humbled by his selection as a Public Interest Scholar.
Undergraduate: Scripps College
Daniella was born and raised in Atlanta and graduated from Scripps College where they received a BA in mathematical economics and an honors degree in political theory in 2019. Their theses included an analysis of teacher pension generosity and teacher turnover, and an analysis of Roe v. Wade in the context of an expanded understanding of a "right to life." In college, Daniella assisted in running the middle school and high school Public Debate Program across California and coached students during summer programs.
Their passion for education led them to take a position at the RAND Corporation to complete education research for two years. Daniella's research primarily focused on curriculum usage and education financing. Daniella is humbled and inspired to join the 2021 Public Interest Scholars and is looking forward to the opportunity to continue their study of education into education law at USC Gould.
Undergraduate: Whitworth University
Jessica was born and raised in San Diego, California, and graduated summa cum laude from Whitworth University in 2018. At Whitworth, she double majored in philosophy and Spanish language and literature and minored in psychology; Latin American studies; theology; and women's and gender studies. As an undergraduate student, she embarked on two study abroad trips to Central America, the latter being a semester-long internship placement in Leon, Nicaragua. She worked at a feminist nonprofit where she collaborated with Nicaraguan co-workers to develop a city-wide campaign against femicide in the country. She was deeply impacted by her time abroad in Guatemala and Nicaragua, which compelled her to connect with social justice causes in the United States.
After graduation, Jessica became a Client Assistant at the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law in Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization which offers free legal aid to low-income clients as they navigate divorce, custody, and restraining order proceedings. During her 1L summer, Jessica was a Law Clerk at the Western Center on Law & Poverty, supporting impact litigation and public advocacy projects in the areas of housing, health, public benefits, and access to justice. This year, she looks forward to working in USC’s Immigration Clinic and serving as the Professional Development Chair for the Public Interest Law Foundation. In her free time, Jessica enjoys taking naps, going to coffee shops, and playing with her ten-pound tabby cat, Delilah Sweets.
Undergraduate: Lehigh University
Kelsey grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and attended Lehigh University as a journalism and international relations double major with a minor in French. As an undergraduate student, she focused heavily on opportunities to learn about and engage in discussions centered around global issues. She was enthusiastically involved in the unique Lehigh University/United Nations Partnership (LU/UN), which allows Lehigh students to participate in UN events and host UN speakers on campus. For several years, she served as the LU/UN reporter, interviewing global leaders and covering LU/UN events, as well as the UN youth representative for the African Citizens Development Foundation, a Nigerian nonprofit that provides and advocates for education for Nigerian youth. She also was selected to be a member of Lehigh's Global Citizenship Program, which featured coursework that addressed global issues from different cultural and philosophical perspectives and included a winter study abroad opportunity to meet with leaders from various sectors in India. She enjoyed thinking through diverse viewpoints on complex topics and put this into practice as the campus newspaper's editorial page editor, leading discussions and writing editorials regarding campus issues. Her dedication to journalism and the principle of freedom of speech led her to the meaningful experience of interning for Reporters Without Borders.
She graduated summa cum laude in 2016 and received the Lehigh University Presidential Scholarship to continue her studies as a political science master's student, completing her MA in 2017. Her favorite graduate course was The Politics of Inequality, a subject she has continued to read about in her free time and wants to further explore in law school. After graduating, she served as a summer associate for the Congressional Budget Office and then worked for the U.S. House of Representatives as an IT and knowledge management specialist within the Chief Administrative Office. Through this position, she gained extensive technical skills and strengthened her problem-solving abilities. She also volunteered for the past two years as a literacy tutor for elementary school students from a low-income Washington, D.C., community through a local non-profit called Horton's Kids. Now that she is a law student in L.A., she looks forward to continuing to volunteer locally and beginning to contribute her emerging legal skills to assist others. She feels beyond excited and lucky to have the opportunity to join the Trojan Family as a law student!
Undergraduate: Princeton University
Edgar grew up in Compton, California, and graduated summa cum laude in 2018 from Princeton University where he earned his BA in Spanish and Portuguese. His senior thesis, titled "Hood" Soldiers: Unraveling Los Angeles' Chicano Gang Narrative in the 1990s, explored the representation of Chicano gang members in the Los Angeles Times and La Opinion and contrasted them with interviews he conducted with former gang members. At Princeton, Edgar served as a head fellow for the Scholars Institute Fellowship Program (SIFP), a mentorship and access program designed for first-generation and low-income students. Edgar found a strong community in SIFP that ultimately sparked his interest in diversity, equity and inclusion. Soon after graduating, he stayed at Princeton to work as an undergraduate admission officer in the diversity outreach team. Beyond participating in the admission selection process, Edgar also piloted and managed the English-to-Spanish translation of Princeton's student blog; expanded Princeton's admission website to include resources and FAQs for DACA and undocumented college applicants; and served as co-instructor for a college admissions class through the Princeton University Preparatory Program, a college preparation and success program that fosters development of students who have been historically marginalized.
Edgar is excited to be back in Los Angeles with his family and a bright future in public interest law ahead of him. He is looking forward to learning from his professors and classmates at USC Gould School of Law, joining Gould's Latinx Law Student Association, and continuing a few of his favorite hobbies (including playing the piano!).
Undergraduate: Colgate University
Born in South Korea, Jenny immigrated to the United States at five years old, growing up in Denver, CO, where she attended an inner-city public school. Early during her education, Jenny observed systemic disparities between her academic experience and that of her peers across different academic programs.
Jenny continued to pursue a deeper understanding of this injustice in her undergraduate studies and activities as well as her professional experiences. She researched philosophies of education at Colgate University and assisted underserved high school students in preparing for the SAT in her local community. Jenny began to further discover the relationship between education (or lack thereof) and the criminal justice system, including an internship with the Denver District Attorney’s Office. Her college experience culminated in an honors research thesis on the inner workings of the juvenile justice system and its effect on youth offenders.
After graduating in 2018 from Colgate University with honors in Political Science, Jenny pursued professional experiences at Colorado Succeeds, a Colorado based education non-profit, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. At the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, she became familiar with the challenges of creating systemic change and understood the necessity to foster a sense of community with those most affected by systemic inequities. This past summer, she continued her exploration of the criminal justice system at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Jenny is honored and excited to join a community of committed public servants. She is grateful for the opportunity to continue her work in the public interest sphere at USC Gould and fight for a more equitable society. Fight On!
2020-21 Public Interest Scholars
Undergraduate: California State University, Long Beach
Steph grew up in Dana Point, California, and graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Long Beach, with her BA in political science in December 2019. As an undergraduate, Steph was highly involved, successfully fighting a tuition increase, volunteering in the Long Beach community, completing five internships and a leadership fellowship, and implementing the Donations for Citations program on-campus, enabling individuals with certain parking citations to donate to the campus food pantry in lieu of paying their citation. The success of this project furthered Steph's passion for public service and became the focus of her undergraduate thesis "A Seat at the Table: Student Innovation of Bureaucratic Institutions" which earned her recognition from the university honors program.
During her 1L summer, Steph worked for the Department of Justice in the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, helping to prosecute some of the most heinous crimes in society. This year, Steph is looking forward to planning events for PILF, supporting IRAP, and co-leading the Women's Law Association. She is also excited to participate in the Hale Moot Court Honors Program and the International Human Rights Clinic. When Steph isn't thinking about the law, she enjoys hiking, going to the beach, watching films and spending time with friends.
Undergraduate: University of California, San Diego
Daniel Costandy was born and raised in Southern California. He graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in global public health. As an undergraduate, Daniel gained an affinity for the public interest field when learning about many health inequities worldwide, and has extended this passion into his legal aspirations to help bridge justice inequalities, especially in regards to homeless U.S. military veterans. Daniel wrote his senior thesis on "housing first" solutions to chronic homelessness in San Diego, where he aims to focus significant attention throughout his legal career. After his 1L year, Daniel interned with the U.S. Navy JAG Corps at Navy Region Southwest in San Diego in a staff judge advocate capacity.
During undergrad, Daniel co-founded the Mustard Seed Project homeless outreach organization at UCSD, where his work in downtown rendered his desire to use his legal platform to positively impact that population in particular. Following graduation, Daniel became the legal advisor for Unheard Cries charity, a non-profit organization aimed at denting poverty in the Middle East. During his 1L summer, Daniel served as a law clerk in San Diego and is particularly interested in the joining the JAG Corps and the JAG Corps reserves at some point in his career. He hopes to put his law degree towards initiatives that interest him and to always incorporate public interest work and pro bono work into his work.
Undergraduate: University of Kansas
Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff is a native of Kansas City, Missouri. She is honored to be both a Public Interest Scholar and a Gold Honors Scholar for the Class of 2023. In May 2020 Sophia graduated a year early from the University of Kansas with honors degrees in political science and international studies. At KU, Sophia was an active member of Phi Beta Kappa and the pre-law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta. Sophia was selected as one of two interns for the U.S. Department of State in the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York City. As an intern she gained diplomacy experience regularly attending UN Security Council meetings. As a senior, she received a grant to conduct her thesis abroad in London. Her studies analyzed the social effects of Brexit. Sophia's internship and research experiences have strengthened her interest in international law, and she looks forward to pursuing a legal career with an international focus following graduation from USC Gould.
Sophia spent her 1L summer as an extern for the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California. She will spend her 2L year in the International Human Rights Clinic, and her 2L summer at Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C. At Gould, Sophia is the president of the Latinx Law Students Association, VP of External Affairs for the American Constitution Society and a member of the Hale Moot Court Honors Program.
A proud second-generation Mexican American, Sophia has seen firsthand the injustices that her community endures at the hands of our nation's immigration policies. These experiences are what have empowered her to become an even stronger advocate for oppressed populations through achieving a JD and she looks forward to maintaining a robust pro bono practice throughout her career.
You can find Sophia running with her dog, Cashew, and rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Undergraduate: Northwestern University in Qatar
J. Zach Hollo grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended Northwestern University's branch campus in Doha, Qatar, where he majored in journalism and minored in Middle Eastern studies. His work in journalism included extensive coverage of Qatar's low-wage migrant labor communities. He also received a grant from the Pulitzer Center to travel to India, where he produced stories about how climate change disproportionately affects impoverished communities.
After undergrad, Zach taught English in China for two years. He then studied in Taiwan as a Fulbright Scholar, where he earned a master's degree in international affairs and wrote a thesis about civil society groups in Taiwan that focus on human rights. He also interned at the Taipei office of Reporters Without Borders and pursued various freelance journalism projects.
This past summer, Zach interned at the Federal Public Defender's Office for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento. He looks forward to serving on the executive board for the Barbara F. Bice Public Interest Law Foundation, International Refugee Assistance Project, and Chinese Law Student and Alumni Association.
Zach is part of Gould's Public Interest Scholars program, and he plans to pursue opportunities related to public defense and indigent representation in the future. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, gaming and studying Mandarin.
Undergraduate: Boston University
Mairin was born and raised in Los Angeles County. She attended Boston University where she graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Film and Television and cum laude with a BS in Political Science in May 2020. As an undergraduate, Mairin relied on videography to contest social injustice. She produced a documentary about a Boston-raised community leader facing deportation to Haiti, a short film about street harassment and an ad endorsing abortion access for minors. She interned for ActionAid in Sydney, Australia, as well as Planned Parenthood and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.
Mairin has served in federal, state and local government. She spent undergraduate semesters interning for the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. and Attorney General Maura Healey in Massachusetts. During her 1L summer, Mairin worked in the Office of the Los Angeles County Counsel, Board of Supervisors Division.
As a 2L, Mairin served as a Student Attorney in USC Gould’s International Human Rights Clinic, Anti-Human Trafficking Team. She helped the Clinic launch one of the first comprehensive reports on U.S. law enforcement anti-sex trafficking operations, detailing the harms such operations pose to people who have been trafficked and recommending non-carceral alternatives to combat sex trafficking. During her 2L summer, Mairin drafted a criminal vacatur petition on behalf of a pro bono client who was arrested while being sex trafficked.
Mairin was a member of the Hale Moot Court Honors Program and is now on the USC National Moot Court Team. In Spring 2023, she will represent Gould in the American Bar Association’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition. After graduation, Mairin will be a litigation associate at Latham & Watkins in Los Angeles.
Undergraduate: University of Washington
Katherine was born and raised in Seattle, where she attended the University of Washington as a Stamps Scholar. Graduating cum laude in 2017, she majored in political science with a minor in international studies, and participated in UW's College Honors Program, writing her honors thesis on the topic of states' funding for higher education. Katherine dedicated much of her time on campus to advocating for affordable and accessible higher education as a leader in student government. She served as a White House intern during the Obama administration. Beginning in high school, she worked as a youth producer with KUOW Public Radio's RadioActive Media, co-producing a piece on LGBTQ clubs in Catholic high schools that received a 2015 National Murrow Award.
After college, Katherine pursued her passion for civic engagement and civic education while working for Citizen University. She followed this by spending time in Juneau, Alaska, with the Alaska Fellows Program, where she conducted economic development research and fell in love with the state. Returning to Seattle, she worked on a successful city council campaign, and subsequently served as a council aide.
During her 1L summer, Katherine was a legal intern for the California Department of Justice Government Law Section. This year she will be a staff member of the Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice. Katherine is honored to be a part of the Public Interest Scholars Program and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of a community of passionate peers and learn the skills of effective legal advocacy in pursuit of a career in public service.
Undergraduate: Wellesley College
Leilani Stacy has lived in 10 states and three countries, and grew up primarily in Hawaii and Maryland. She graduated with a BA from Wellesley College, where she double-majored in political science and economics. Her passion for racial and gender equity led her to spend time working in community finance and investment banking. After graduation, she completed a Fulbright scholarship researching women-owned businesses and entrepreneurship in Portugal. Prior to entering law school, Leilani served as an AmeriCorps FoodCorps service member, teaching students in Boston about food and nutrition. When she's not on a Zoom call, you can find her baking cookies or going for a long walk! This past summer, Leilani was awarded a WLALA/ICLC fellowship to intern with the Inner City Law Center's Homeless Veterans' team, where she wrote several legal briefs in support of veterans' disability benefits applications and discharge upgrade packages.
Undergraduate: University of California, Los Angeles
Nina-Marie is from Hayward, California, and graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a political science major and civic engagement minor. As an undergraduate, she interned with UCLA Student Legal Services, a campus resource providing faculty and students with legal advice, and volunteered with JusticeCorps, an AmeriCorps program offering legal assistance to self-represented litigants.
After college, Nina-Marie continued her work with JusticeCorps as a graduate fellow. She gained hands-on experience in family law by leading orientation workshops on dissolutions of marriage, and assisted litigants in preparing requests for order, property disclosures and proposed judgments. Subsequently, she became a trial fellow for Hueston Hennigan LLP, where she dove into the world of high-stakes corporate litigation as a junior paralegal. At Hueston Hennigan, Nina-Marie was struck by the disparities of resources available to low-income earners relying on nonprofit programs, and large companies with the funds to hire elite firms. Over the course of her education and career, she hopes to expand the services available to disadvantaged demographics so that one's socioeconomic status is less of a factor in their ability to navigate the legal system.
During her 1L summer, Nina-Marie was a law clerk for Consumer Watchdog where she researched and drafted memoranda on legal issues in consumer protection class action lawsuits. This year, she will serve as the secretary for the Family Law Society and will be a summer associate with Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.
Nina-Marie is honored to be part of a network committed to public service at USC Gould. She looks forward to learning from and working with other Public Interest Scholars and is excited by the opportunities that the program presents in furthering her goal of increasing equal access to justice.
2019-20 Public Interest Scholars
Undergraduate: University of California, Los Angeles
Rebekah grew up in Southern California and graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a BA in English and a minor in public affairs. After graduation she worked in nonprofit development while also serving as the policy research lead for an anti-trafficking organization focused on legislative solutions and grassroots advocacy.
Throughout her first year at USC, Rebekah was active in the Public Interest Law Foundation and the USC chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. During her 1L summer she clerked at the Children's Law Center of California and was selected as a 2020 Bergstrom Child Welfare Law Fellow.
As a dual JD/MSW student, Rebekah spent 2020–2021 as a clinical intern at a Los Angeles-based shelter that supports youth experiencing homelessness. She also served as a student representative for the Asian Pacific Islander Social Work Caucus, treasurer for the Unchained Scholars Social Work Caucus, and liaison to the USC Dworak-Peck School of Social Work for the USC chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Rebekah has been selected as a 2021–2022 Saks Student Scholar and is grateful for the opportunity to continue building an interdisciplinary, trauma-informed approach to her advocacy work.
Undergraduate: Brown University
Chris Barwick grew up in Southern California and graduated from Brown University in 2016 with a BA in political science. As an undergraduate, he interned for multiple members of Congress in their Washington, D.C., and California offices. These experiences inspired Chris to pursue a full-time job in Congress.
After he graduated, Chris worked for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein as a field representative. In this role, he worked with senior staff on solutions to some of California's most pressing issues, conducted local oversight, and served as a liaison to the Southern California community. After his first year of law school, Chris was a Pro Bono Scholar at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. As part of this program, Chris worked at both Akin Gump as well as at Public Counsel's Center for Veterans' Advancement. After his second year of law school, Chris returned to Akin Gump as a summer associate.
Chris is very excited for his third year at the USC Gould School of Law and is honored to be a part of the Barbara F. Bice Public Interest Scholars program.
Undergraduate: Boston University
Samuel grew up in Oakland, California, and earned a BA from Boston University. At BU, he double majored in political science and international relations and minored in Spanish. During his time as an undergraduate, Sam interned for the minister of justice and civil liberties in the British House of Commons and for an education think tank in Madrid. He also volunteered as an after-school tutor for English language learner students in Boston and as an education tutor at the Framingham Women's Prison.
After college, Sam joined the Peace Corps. For two years, he lived and worked in an Emberá village in the Darién jungle of Panama. Living in the jungle, Sam cut his lawn with a machete, learned how to build a dugout canoe, and overcame his fear of snakes very quickly. The Emberá people work hard to preserve their indigenous culture and Sam considers it a great privilege to have lived in that village. During his service, he and his community members designed a solar energy project and won a grant to fund the majority of their proposal. The primary beneficiaries were women who used the solar lights to weave baskets and plates to sell in the city, and children who had previously done their homework by flashlight.
During his 1L summer he worked for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. During his 2L summer, he worked for the Federal Public Defender's Office for the Central District of California, and during the school year, he has joined USC's Post-Conviction Justice Project.
Sam is looking forward to his last year of law school and excited to begin his career as an attorney.
Undergraduate: University of California, Santa Barbara
Alaina grew up in Riverside, California, before attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, for her undergraduate studies. She graduated in 2018 with honors and distinction in environmental studies and sociology. During this time, Alaina was highly involved in numerous student organizations. She interned with the university's Alcohol and Drug Program, was a course grader for the sociology department, and worked for the university's Disabled Students Program. She also served as the president of her sorority (Tri Delta), was a member of the UCSB dance team, studied European Union law abroad in the Netherlands, and participated in research for both of her majors.
Alaina first developed a passion for public interest and nonprofit work during her time at UCSB. For four years, Alaina helped her sorority raise money for their philanthropy, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She organized events and held fundraisers for children with life-threatening diseases. She also served her community through her internship with the Alcohol and Drug Program where her goal was to lower the rates of alcohol- and drug-related incidents through peer education and community outreach.
Alaina fostered her interest in pursuing a law degree through her major's coursework on environmental law and animal welfare law. She wrote a thesis on the intersectionality of environmental and animal welfare legislation and the effects on the agricultural system in the United States. After graduation, Alaina moved to Washington, D.C., to intern with the Humane Society Legislative Fund, a nonprofit affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States. There, she focused on advancing pro-animal welfare legislation through community activism and lobbying Congress.
During Alaina's time at USC, she has served as the vice president of both the Latinx Law Students Association and the Criminal Law Society. Alaina is also a JD legal writing fellow and a topic editor for the Hale Moot Court Honors Program. She is also a teaching assistant for Introduction to Criminal Law. During her 1L summer, Alaina externed at the Riverside County District Attorney's Office. During her 2L summer, Alaina was a summer associate at O'Melveny & Myers LLP in Century City and Downtown Los Angeles. After graduation, Alaina will be returning to O'Melveny Century City as an associate to pursue a career in white-collar criminal defense and entertainment litigation. She also hopes to take on criminal defense matters pro bono while at her firm. Alaina is looking forward to further pursuing her passions for public interest and the criminal justice system through the many opportunities to come.
Undergraduate: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nancy is from Reidsville, North Carolina, and earned her bachelor's degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She graduated in 2018 as a public policy major, and with minors in sustainability studies and politics, philosophy and economics. In her final semester as an undergraduate, she took an environmental law course taught by Professor Donald Hornstein and decided to conduct research for him following graduation. This experience catalyzed her pursuit of an environmental law career.
During her gap year before law school, Nancy worked for Environment Ohio on climate solutions, PennEnvironment on their clean air campaign, and the Florida House of Representatives during their legislative session. She also made her way back home to North Carolina for the summer before law school by interning for the Bald Head Island Conservancy, which focuses on sea turtle conservation.
As a Public Interest Scholar, Nancy continues to center her legal career around environmental law. This past summer, she served as a law clerk with the U.S. Department of Justice in their Environmental Enforcement Section. During her 1L summer, she served as a law clerk for the California Department of Justice in their Land Law Section. She is excited to learn what new opportunities and challenges will be offered to her after graduation. With the support and guidance of the Barbara F. Bice Public Interest Scholars program, she is also excited to take them on.
Undergraduate: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Linzie Hoffman was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated summa cum laude in 2012 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a double major in sociology and African American studies. After graduation, she moved to Los Angeles and began working for a small real estate company where she helped low-income families navigate the process of securing affordable, subsidized housing. Linzie simultaneously explored her love of music and acting and their intersection with social justice. She played a lead role in the Second City Hollywood musical Afros and Ass Whoopins, a political satire about police brutality in America. After each show, the cast led the audience in open discussions in hopes of creating a community space where people of color felt safe to discuss their experiences with racist policing practices.
Before coming to Gould, Linzie worked for St. Joseph Center, a non-profit in Los Angeles, California, that provides a multitude of services and resources to Angelenos experiencing homelessness. The summer following her 1L year, she worked with the ACLU of Southern California on the Jails Project to help monitor the conditions of confinement and medical services within all Los Angeles County jail facilities. She believes the law to be the best avenue for her to create the kind of change she wants to see with respect to criminal justice reform and police accountability.
The history of USC's Barbara F. Bice Public Interest Law Foundation is what made Linzie fall in love with Gould. She was inspired to learn that PILF was birthed thanks to dedicated students who saw a need and decided to meet that need with action. She is honored to have the opportunity to be a part of that legacy as she continues her career in public interest.
Undergraduate: Georgetown University
Matt Palmquist was born and raised amongst the apple-speckled farmlands of Washington State. His experience growing up in a rural small town as the loud, gay son of a Korean immigrant, as well as his undocumented friends' struggles with the immigration system, inspired him to attend law school and fight for immigrants' rights.
Matt graduated from Georgetown University in 2017 with a BA in Spanish and sociology. He was then selected as a Fulbright fellow to Mexico, where he taught English at a polytechnic institute and worked at an NGO that provided legal assistance to asylum seekers and returned Mexican citizens. When his fellowship concluded in summer 2018, Matt returned to the Pacific Northwest to work at a Seattle-based legal tech company that made software to guide green card applicants through the immigration process.
Matt spent his 1L summer at the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice, helping survivors of human trafficking apply for T and U visas, and his 2L summer at the ACLU of Texas, working with attorneys at the Border Rights Center in El Paso with impact litigation affecting immigrants' rights. During his 2L year, he participated in USC's Immigrant Detention & Appellate Clinic, where he authored and submitted a brief to the Ninth Circuit appealing a detained asylum seekers adverse immigration decision. He also helped organize events for the American Constitution Society and OUTLaw, which included a gay dance party in protest of a homophobic guest speaker and a panel on LGBTQ equality and religious freedom with a Washington State Supreme Court Justice. He was also one of three students nationwide selected to receive the American Bar Association's LGBT Public Interest Scholarship in June 2021.
Matt is looking forward to a 3L year of garbled cold calls behind masks and continuing to fight for immigrants' rights as an advanced student in the USC Immigration Clinic.
Undergraduate: New York University
MMaura grew up outside of Reading, Pennsylvania, and graduated from New York University in 2017 with a double major in Spanish and global liberal studies and a concentration in politics, rights and development. While studying in Buenos Aires for two semesters, she interned at Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia. She helped with Spanish-to-English translation and researched inclusive education in the city, which led her to think critically about public education in the U.S.
As she became increasingly interested in improving education for young migrants, Maura wrote her undergraduate thesis about the difficulties unaccompanied Latinx minors face in U.S. public schools. She conducted related research in Guatemala, a children's shelter in Brownsville, Texas, and at a high school in Los Angeles known as a refuge for migrant children. Additionally, she worked as a translator and interpreter at NYU Law's Immigrant Rights Clinic, helping 3Ls communicate with Spanish-speakers in removal proceedings.
After graduating, Maura worked at a business immigration law firm as a paralegal for one year, after which she returned to Reading and worked at Community Justice Project helping clients file for DACA renewal, naturalization, U visas and VAWA. For six months, she lived in Mexico City and served as the volunteer coordinator at Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración where she gave presentations on U.S. asylum to Central American migrants.
After her first year of law school, Maura worked at the Legal Aid Society in New York. She worked on the Youth Project helping minors and adults with children apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile status and asylum. Additionally, she researched country conditions for Garifuna in Honduras to help strengthen their asylum claims.
During her second year of law school, Maura worked as a student attorney at USC's International Human Rights Clinic. She wrote a report analyzing U.S. law enforcement anti-sex-trafficking efforts. The report was based on over 40 interviews with sex trafficking victims, federal and local law enforcement, prosecutors, victim advocates and academics.
After her second year of law school, Maura worked as a summer associate at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York. She worked on Latin America and pro bono matters.
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