Scholarship Recipients Exemplify the Very Best Among Aspiring Lawyers

July 27, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA - MALDEF is pleased to announce the recipients in its 2016-2017 Law School Scholarship Program.

Since MALDEF’s founding, the civil rights organization has awarded scholarships to law students who will further MALDEF’s mission of advancing the civil rights of the Latino community in the United States.

“With each passing week, our nation increasingly recognizes how important public interest lawyers are to preserving our national values and securing our rights,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “This year, as every year of MALDEF's existence, we are proud to support promising future public interest lawyers devoted to serving the nation's needs, in particular those of the Latino community.”

Each year, MALDEF asks a national Law School Scholarship Committee of leading attorneys to help select our scholarship recipients.

“It is an honor to recognize the exceptional talent of this group of students. MALDEF’s Law School Scholarship Program takes pride in supporting this new generation of legal advocates and community leaders,” said Jose Sanchez, former MALDEF Board Member, Partner at Sidley Austin LLP, and chair of this year’s committee. “We thank the major funders of this Program and the members of MALDEF’s Law School Scholarship Committee for their commitment to these scholars and to the future of our legal profession. “

MALDEF’s Law School Scholarship Program is open to all students enrolled at an accredited United States law school.

MALDEF’s Law School Scholarship Committee assesses applicants based on four main factors: 1) personal background and financial need; 2) academic and extracurricular achievement; 3) demonstrated commitment to serving the Latino community, shown through academic, extracurricular, or professional record of service; and 4) future plans to advance the rights of Latinos. Applications for the 2017-2018 MALDEF Law School Scholarship Program, due by Dec. 17, 2017, are available for download here and at our website, MALDEF thanks the Hearst Foundation, Walmart, Toyota, and the Law School Scholarship Committee for their generous support of our Law School Scholarship Program. Donations may be made to MALDEF’s Law School Scholarship Program here.

MALDEF'S 2016-2017 Law School Scholarship Recipients:

Domonique Alcaraz

Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

Domonique is a proud Xicana who was born and raised by her Mexican immigrant family in Boyle Heights. As a child, she noticed the unequal access to opportunity and unequal treatment she and her low-income Latinx community experienced. But it was not until college that Domonique realized she could do something to change what she saw. Through community service, she has worked to improve access to education, the political process, and free legal services in Oregon, Illinois, New Mexico, and California. Domonique aspires to relentlessly fight for equality and the protection of minority communities’ civil rights.

Leticia Arevalo

University of Idaho College of Law

Leticia Arevalo was born in Zinaparo, Michoacán, Mexico. Her family migrated to the San Joaquin Central Valley in Firebaugh, California. Leticia completed a two-year internship for Assembly Member Juan Arambula, advocated for farmworkers’ rights at the North Carolina Justice Center in Raleigh, and interned at both the New American Legal Clinic and the Mexican Consulate in Fresno, California. Leticia is alumni of the University of California, Davis School of Law King Hall Outreach Program and the Council on Legal Education Opportunity program. After graduation, Leticia will serve as a civil rights attorney.

Christine Brito

Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

Christine Brito is a first-generation, Mexican-Peruvian University of California, Berkeley graduate from Orange County, California. She is an aspiring immigration lawyer with over six years of experience helping low-income monolingual immigrant families acquire legal status. As a Public Interest Scholar at Loyola, Christine participated in the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic for two years. As a clinical student, she helped represent minors eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and U-Visas for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. In December 2016, she received the Darlene R. Seligman Immigration Law Award for academic achievement. Christine will continue to advocate for the undocumented immigrant community at Olmos and Reynolds Law Group.

Edyael Casaperalta

University of Colorado Law School

Edyael Casaperalta emigrated to Elsa, Texas when she was 12 years old with her family, which was undocumented for the first five years of their residence in the United States. The challenges Edyael experienced as an undocumented immigrant inspired her to dedicate her professional life to improving the lives of marginalized communities in her new home country. Edyael is passionate about increasing access to telecommunications services for poor communities and ensuring that their civil rights are not violated while online. Edyael is a third-year student at the University of Colorado Law School, and for the next four years, she hopes to help protect undocumented immigrants from xenophobic government surveillance.

Carlos Coye

University of California, Irvine, School of Law

Carlos Coye was born in Belize and immigrated to the U.S. when he was 19 years old. After receiving an M.A. in philosophy, Carlos taught at a community college. He was always interested in a career dedicated to social justice. While attending law school, Carlos co-founded the Native American Law Students Association, volunteered for workers’ rights clinics, and collaborated with community organizers to address the problem of wage theft faced by day laborers in Orange County. He also participated at the University of California, Irvine in its International Human Rights Clinic, Immigrant Rights Clinic, and Civil Rights Litigation Clinic. He intends to dedicate his legal career to the labor movement and civil rights issues.

Salomon De Los Angeles

DePaul University College of Law

The son of immigrants and the first in his family to earn an undergraduate degree, Salomon De Los Angeles is unequivocally passionate about social justice, and unconventional in the intensity of his desire to advocate for his community. After nearly 11 years at the Alzheimer’s Association, he is realizing his dream of a legal education in preparation to further serve the immigrant elderly community. Befitting with this lifelong goal and DePaul’s mission of serving the poor, this summer Salomon is interning at the Center for Disability and Elder Law in Chicago.

Paige Duggins

University of Texas School of Law

As an African-American woman and the daughter of a teacher, Paige grew up witnessing first-hand the importance of public education and civil rights. After graduating from Southwestern University, Paige spent time in South Africa, where she studied human rights and volunteered in a local children’s home. She served as an intern for State Senator Judith Zaffirini, Texas’s first Latina senator, and went on to become the University of Texas School of Law’s first ever G. Rollie White Public Service Scholar. Paige interned for MALDEF for two legislative sessions, and will begin a post-graduate clerkship with the Honorable Justice Jeffrey Boyd on the Texas Supreme Court in September 2017.

Angélica María González

Seattle University School of Law

Angélica is from a Mexican immigrant family and is the first in her family to attend college. She is a single mother of three children, and is also parenting her three nephews. Once empowered with education, Angélica embraced a passion to effect positive change in her community. She currently serves her community in several ways. Angélica is working vehemently to change childcare access. “The inability to access childcare is an equity issue. It keeps communities that are most in need from having the ability to access education and power in this country, this needs to change.” Angélica’s ultimate goal is to lead from the White House.

Katiana Gonzalez

Santa Clara University School of Law

Katiana Gonzalez grew up in an agricultural town in the Central Coast of California. As the daughter of illiterate, monolingual, Spanish-speaking immigrants, she felt motivated to work on a language accessibility project for the court system. She became a mother at a young age and subsequently dropped out of college, but returned and graduated magna cum laude from University of California, Berkeley. She is currently a second-year law student at Santa Clara Law. After law school, she wants to continue working on projects for the Spanish-speaking community.

Jorge Guerreiro

University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law

Jorge Guerreiro is the son of Cuban-Nicaraguan immigrants. He was born in Los Angeles and was the first in his family to graduate from college. He has interned for CARECEN and Bronx Defenders in the immigration department. Jorge is in his final year at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law and is hoping to work as a public defender, immigration attorney, or a crim-migration attorney.

Daniela Huerta

University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

Daniela Huerta was born in Mexico City and moved to the United States when she was 11 years old. Daniela attended the University of Texas at Dallas and graduated Magna Cum Laude in December 2013. Daniela was a Luna Scholar, a legislative aide in the Texas Senate, and worked at the U.S. House of Representatives. In August 2016 she began her studies at University of California, Berkeley School of Law, where she is currently co-Editor-in-Chief of La Raza Law Journal as well as a mentor to undergraduate students through Berkeley's Pre-Law Society.

Lorena Jiron

Fordham University School of Law

As the daughter of immigrants, Lorena Jiron grew up in Miami and was raised by a single mother who immigrated to the U.S. from Nicaragua. After Lorena graduated from Middlebury College, her mother passed away. Dealing with the implications of her mother’s death taught Lorena the importance of being able to effectively navigate the legal system, sparking her passion for advocacy. While a student at Fordham University School of Law, Lorena advocated for the rights of immigrant communities and Latino populations and later as an intern at New York Legal Assistance Group, NYC Legal Services, Day One, and NAACP-LDF. She was also a Stein Scholar for the Public Interest, and Fordham LALSA president her 3L year. As an Equal Justice Works Fellow, she will go back to Day One to represent young single mothers from immigrant communities who are victims of intimate partner violence, an endeavor she calls the “Single Mother Empowerment Project.”

Mildred Lima-Gonzalez
Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

Because Mildred’s immigrant parents reassured her that education was access to a world beyond their own, Mildred earned her B.A. from University of California, Los Angeles and is now at Loyola Law School. Mildred has been a certified law intern for the Public Defender’s Office, where she represented indigent clients. She has been a law clerk for Geragos & Geragos, APC and has externed for the Honorable Dolly M. Gee in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. She also participated in the Hispanic National Moot Court Competition. Mildred intends to work in a public interest capacity to continue being a safeguard of life and liberty.

Salvador Macias

Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law of Arizona State University

Salvador Macias was born in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and later immigrated to Phoenix, Arizona. He attended Arizona State University and joined Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity Inc. He graduated with a B.A. in Political Science, a B.A. in Transborder Chicano/a Latino/a Studies and a minor in Spanish. After graduation he began to work with AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute, a non-profit that helps high school students pursue a college education. He recently graduated from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State and will be working as an immigration attorney with DACA status.
Anel Morales

Northeastern University School of Law

Anel Morales is the daughter of Mexican immigrants who was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. While earning her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Anel had the opportunity to pursue different legal internship positions that reinforced her passion to serve the undocumented immigrant community. During law school, she continued her commitment by working with non-profit organizations and a law firm to help immigrants apply for immigration relief. Following graduation, Anel will serve as an Attorney Fellow for the Undocumented Legal Services Center, at the University of California, Davis, School of Law.

Karen Pedraza

University of California, Davis, School of Law

Karen Pedraza was born and raised to Mexican farmworkers in the Salinas Valley. She traveled with her family for 14 years from California to Arizona finding subsistence in the lettuce harvest. While at Saint Mary’s College, Karen worked in a labor union and decided to become an advocate for immigrants to help them become economically independent. She hopes to intern for California Rural Legal Assistance in the future to assist migrant farm workers, unaccompanied children, and asylum seekers.

Joaquin Recinos

University of California, Davis, School of Law

Joaquin Recinos grew up in a union household. Both parents were union organizers who took him to countless picket lines, union meetings, and house visits. At a young age, Joaquin embraced a commitment to stand up for the rights of immigrants and working people. As an undergraduate, Joaquin was a student leader of a successful campaign to unionize dining hall workers. Overcoming employer intimidation, and witnessing the growth of leadership among the workers, Joaquin was inspired to commit to the fight for social justice. Now, he hopes to pursue a legal career to continue to advocate for the rights of working people.

Gerardo Romo

New York University School of Law (NYU)

Raised by his East Los Angeles-born mother and Salvadoran grandmother in Perris, California, Gerardo is the first in his family to graduate from college. His father immigrated from Jalisco, Mexico. Gerardo graduated from Columbia University, majoring in Ethnic Studies. Before law school, he helped incarcerated individuals with their parole hearings at a public defense appellate office and is now interning at the Immigrant Defense Project for the summer. He is passionate about becoming the best advocate for LGBT people of color fighting to escape constraints, whether they be prison cells, detention centers, or the daily criminalization that comes with survival.

Maria Suarez

University of the District of Columbia School of Law

Maria D. Suarez migrated with her family to the U.S. at the age of 11. Once an undocumented immigrant, Maria graduated from Florida International University with a B.A. in Political Science, and a MBA from St. Thomas University. Maria is currently a student at the University of the District of Columbia School of Law, where she holds the honorary Dean’s Fellowship. Maria is a passionate advocate for economic equality. She is the author of the published article Assessment of Hispanic Entrepreneurship in the United States. After graduation, Maria plans to work in public interest law to assist vulnerable communities.

Lorena Zapata

University of Houston Law Center

Lorena Zapata is the daughter of Mexican immigrants who moved to the border town of El Cenizo, Texas because they felt her chances for success in life would be greatly improved if she attended school in the United States. She graduated from Texas A&M International University and recently completed her first year of law school at the University of Houston. Having witnessed the injustices perpetrated against unrepresented minorities from an early age, Lorena plans to return to the border following graduation to use the law to advocate for residents and to improve our immigration system.

Applications for the 2017-2018 MALDEF Law School Scholarship Program, due by Dec. 17, 2017, are available for download here and at our website,

DONATE to the MALDEF Law School Scholarship Program here.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund