Public Interest/Public Service Scholars Program
Meet Our Current Scholars
Class of 2017Christina Moehrle
B.A. American Studies, Minor in Spanish and Latin American Studies, Fordham University, 2011.
Originally from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Christy developed a passion for social justice and immigrants' rights while studying at Fordham University in the Bronx. During her undergraduate career, she volunteered with various community schools and agencies including Cristo Rey High School in Spanish Harlem, Mercy Center, and LIFT the Bronx. After graduation, Christy served as a paralegal assistant in the immigration legal clinic at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) in San Francisco as part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Since then, she has worked as a Legal Assistant at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, focusing mainly on access to health care for low-income D.C. residents, as well as Social Security Disability benefits appeals. She looks forward to expanding her passion for immigration and poverty law while at WCL.
B.A. Urban Studies, Vassar College, 2009.
Sara joins the PIPS community after spending three years in Sydney, Australia where she was working as a caseworker in the field of child protection, with families from refugee and migrant backgrounds. She learned about the immense challenges displaced persons face and became extremely frustrated with Australia's current policies regarding asylum. Prior to moving to Sydney, Sara lived in New York City where she worked at STEPS to End Family Violence as an advocate/counselor with women, teens, and children who had been affected by domestic violence, many of whom were involved in the criminal justice system. Sara is a graduate of Vassar College, where she became passionately interested in domestic violence issues, the criminal justice system, and how they intersect. Sara served as a counselor with CARES (a 24-hr peer listening service for students affected by abuse), volunteered with the local domestic violence service, co-founded the Vassar Prison Initiative, and worked as the assistant for a program in Otisville Correctional Facility that brought together Vassar students and incarcerated men to foster cross-cultural understanding. She culminated her studies with a senior thesis that explored how incarceration reproduces the dynamics of power and control that most women entering prison have previously experienced in abusive relationships and/or as victims of child sexual abuse. The fatal inequality and institutional violence that Sara has witnessed through each of these experiences has motivated her to pursue a law degree. She is honored to be a part of the PIPS community at WCL and looks forward to learning how to use the law as a tool to address injustice on a broader, more systemic level.
B.A. International Relations, University of Southern California, 2007.
Katherine was born in New York City and grew up in upstate New York. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2007, where she first became interested in international migration. Katherine taught English as a Foreign Language in Argentina and later worked at a non-profit organization focusing on education and social justice in Guatemala. While working in Guatemala, Katherine observed the effects of mass migration to the United States and the impact of deportation on the community. Katherine relocated to the U.S.-Mexico border where she worked as an immigration paralegal for three years with the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) serving hundreds of unaccompanied immigrant children in detention centers. She gave Know Your Rights presentations to immigrant children ages 5-18, and connected children with pro bono legal representation. Katherine then moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative at Ayuda, a legal and social services non-profit organization serving the low-income immigrant community. Ayuda provides legal representation to immigrant men, women and children from all over the world. During her three years at Ayuda, Katherine represented clients before the Executive Office of Immigration Review, the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in defensive and affirmative immigration legal proceedings. She speaks Spanish and French. Katherine is grateful for the opportunity to pursue her JD at WCL as a member of the PIPS community. She looks forward to continuing to serve the local immigrant community though pro bono work.
B.A. History, University Of Michigan, 2005
Kristin joins WCL after two and half years with the Immigrant Justice Project, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center that defends the civil and employment rights of immigrant and low-wage workers in the South. As an outreach paralegal, Kristin supported the Center’s complex litigation, helped immigrant workers navigate the legal system, and conducted extensive outreach to workers throughout the Deep South. Hearing countless stories of wage theft, dangerous working conditions, and rampant mistreatment deepened her commitment to serving marginalized immigrant communities and inspired her to continue fighting for workplace justice as an attorney. Prior, Kristin worked as an international observer with Peace Brigades International in Colombia. Based in the volatile Magdalena Medio region, she provided protective accompaniment to threatened human rights defenders as they traveled throughout the countryside, investigating reports of human rights abuse, interviewing victims, and building legal cases. Kristin developed an interest in human rights and immigrant rights while living in Mexico after college. Over the course of several years, she worked as an English teacher, interned at a human rights organization in Mexico City, and volunteered at a school in rural Oaxaca. Upon returning to the US, she interned at the AFL-CIO’s Immigrant Worker Program and later worked as a case manager at Ayuda, a nonprofit organization in D.C., where she provided comprehensive social services to survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. Originally from D.C., Kristin is excited to return to her home city and take advantage of the many opportunities available in the area to serve underrepresented immigrant communities.
B.A. History and International Studies, Minor in German Studies, Elon University, 2011.
Originally from the Northern Virginia area, Liz studied History and International Studies at Elon University. During college, Liz spent two and a half years researching international humanitarian law (IHL) in Nuremberg, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka alongside a faculty mentor. She studied the delicate balance between local and international actors in the aftermath of each conflict, and the capabilities and aims of justice or legal follow-up in such situations. The project kindled a deep interest in and passion for IHL and the unique and interesting problems it poses. Following graduation, Liz served three years in various AmeriCorps programs. She spent a year building fences, helping with controlled burns, and responding to disasters on the AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team. Liz then moved to Helena, Montana to continue her service with Montana Legal Services Association. There, Liz helped low-income Montanans address their civil legal issues and apply for services like advice from an attorney and referrals to pro bono clinics or attorneys. After a college career focused on international issues, Liz’s AmeriCorps services showed her how much need there is in her own community and gave her a strong interest for work at the local level. Liz hopes to explore her interests in international versus domestic and civil versus criminal law while in school and to define her goals more narrowly
B.S., Neuroscience, University of Rochester, 2012
Naomi Ahsan is from Rochester, New York, and developed her goal of a legal career in public service while pursuing an interest in public health. While completing her B.S. in Neuroscience and minors in Clinical Psychology and Spanish at the University of Rochester, Naomi trained to volunteer as an Emergency Medical Technician in the Rochester area. She also undertook a yearlong study of mental health among Middle Eastern Women through the University of Rochester’s Take Five Scholarship. This program included a semester at the American University in Cairo. Prior to graduation, Naomi completed fellowships with Young People For and the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, in addition to serving for a year with the Americorps program Jumpstart in the Rochester City School District. She also worked as a research assistant on projects in the University of Rochester's departments of Clinical and Social Psychology, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Psychiatry at the Medical Center. Research in psychiatry related to intimate partner violence, health issues facing the incarcerated, and reintegration after incarceration. This work supported the opening of a transition clinic. Naomi also participated actively in the College Diversity Roundtable, Students for Interfaith Action, and Muslim Students Association. She was recognized by the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership with the Fannie Bigelow Prize for her undergraduate activities. Before beginning her law education, Naomi worked at the Center for Community Change, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization dedicated to the political empowerment of people of low income, especially people of color, through community organizing. She worked closely with the Executive and Managing Directors on writing projects related to program strategy, development, and antipoverty policy. Naomi found additional inspiration for becoming a lawyer in the Center’s work at the forefront of the national immigrant rights movement, including organizing around comprehensive immigration reform that shaped Congressional debate in 2013. She also researched employment prospects for people returning from the criminal justice system as well as health burdens on poor minority women.
B.A., Global Studies, University of California at Los Angeles, 2011
Born and raised in Southern California, Angela's interest in travel and other cultures grew into a passion for social justice on an international level during her undergraduate studies at UCLA. During her studies, she was a research intern at International Medical Corps, where she analyzed data related to population displacement and climate change, and at Earth Rights Institute, where she assisted in the research and development of an online portal for nonprofits in West Africa. After a summer in New York City studying international organizations, she completed a paper on the conflicting interests of peace and justice in Darfur. She finished off her degree with a thesis on transitional justice in post-genocide Rwanda. Upon graduation, Angela joined an AmeriCorps program, focusing on social justice issues closer to home, and worked as a tutor and classroom assistant for remedial students in Gompers Middle School in the Watts neighborhood of South LA. After completing her service year, she worked briefly at a private immigration law office before joining Asian Americans Advancing Justice as the legal assistant for the Immigration and Citizenship unit where she assisted clients with citizenship applications and provided support to attorneys on other immigration cases. Angela spent the last 5 weeks prior to relocating to DC backpacking through Europe for the second time.
B.A., Political Science with a Minor in Women's Studies , Vassar College, 2009
Dani was raised in Berkeley, CA, with strong New York roots that make her perpetually torn between coasts. Dani attended Vassar College, where she worked at a battered women’s shelter, a prison, and for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which sparked her interest in workplace discrimination issues. In all of this, she learned about advocacy, and how to negotiate bureaucratic public systems. After college, Dani moved to Brooklyn, NY and worked as a Geriatric Case Manager for The Guardianship Project, an offshoot of the Vera Institute of Justice. In this role, she elbowed her way through New York City’s grimy nursing homes and hospitals, advocated for her clients in court, and helped make end-of-life decisions. Inspired by the fight over healthcare reform, Dani then worked on President Obama’s 2012 campaign in Las Vegas, where she organized in the field to keep Nevada blue. After the victory, she worked for a plaintiff-side law firm in Oakland, CA, which sues corporations for exposing workers to cancer-causing agents.
Health and healthcare have been recurring themes in Dani’s life. She grew up watching her mother battle ovarian cancer, a fight that continues today. Dani has witnessed the real life consequences of drug patenting laws, and has been peripherally involved in the movement to link environmental factors and reproductive cancers. She plans to explore health and labor law - and their intersections - while studying at WCL. Dani is thrilled and humbled to be joining the PIPS community.
B.A., International Relations and French Literature, Wesleyan University, 2007
Born and raised in Maine, Chris completed his bachelors at Wesleyan University with a B.A in International Relations and French Literature. After graduation, Chris spent two years teaching French before moving to the Middle East where he spent time teaching English in Saudi Arabia and working in an orphanage in a refugee camp in Lebanon. For the last several years Chris has worked at a developmental organization in Palestine, managing projects that focused on youth engagement and community building within the Jordan Valley region of the West Bank. At WCL Chris hopes to pursue international law with a focus on refugee rights in the Middle East. Outside of work, Chris enjoys playing soccer and watching baseball as well as hiking and most anything that involves the ocean.
B.A., Anthropology and Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis, 2010
After 18 years in South Carolina, Laura moved to the Midwest to attend Washington University in St. Louis where she double majored in Anthropology and Psychology and minored in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. At Wash U, she played shooting guard on the varsity basketball team and was president of the LGBT student organization on campus. Laura's senior thesis focused on Black lesbian culture in the South and a portion was published in the Journal of Lesbian Studies. Post-graduation, Laura joined Teach for America and taught secondary math and science for three years in southeast Washington DC. While teaching, she founded her school's first Gay-Straight Alliance and put on numerous school wide events and awareness campaigns. She also helped create TFA Pride, an organization committed to building the LGBT community within Teach for America as well as train and educate the staff and other teachers. Although Laura never thought she would be a law student, she is extremely excited to join the WCL community. She is looking forward to learning how she can use the law to combat inequality for all groups of people and specifically for LGBT people of color.
B.A., Women & Gender Studies and Economics, Wellesley College, 2010
Theresa was born and raised in Boston, MA. Growing up in an immigrant family, she gravitated toward the study of law because she felt that those with legal knowledge had an inherent advantage over communities with limited access. While at Wellesley College, she able to volunteer with organizations that empowered women and girls in high risk communities as well as focus on scholarship addressing Violence against Women policy issues. After graduating, she pursued her interest in policy and government, taking a fellowship at the MA State House through the Asian American Women’s Political Initiative. She then moved down to DC to work as a Paralegal in the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition. During her time in DC, she continued her commitment to public interest by volunteering with the DC Pro Bono Program as well as CASA of DC. Theresa moved back to Boston in the Summer of 2012, where she was a fellow on the Elizabeth Warren for Senate Campaign. She will be leaving her paralegal/legal assistant position at the U.S. Attorney’s Office Healthcare Fraud Unit to start at American in the Fall. Theresa is looking forward to pursuing her diverse interests in the field of law and using her legal expertise to serve others.
B.A., Philosophy, Boston University, 2011
Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, Shahrzad moved to St. Paul, Minnesota in 2000. Her experiences of immigration to the United States as well as the recent history of the Iran-Iraq war and its impacts on her immediate family, form the core of her professional interests in international criminal and immigration law. As an undergraduate student at Boston University, she became heavily involved with on-campus activism relating to these arenas. As the president of Amnesty International at BU, she organized several events spotlighting issues of internal displacement in Haiti, human rights in China and freedom of expression in Iran. Moreover, she had the opportunity to work on the establishment of a socially responsible investment committee at BU, with the goal of achieving the university’s divestment from sources involved in war crimes and human rights violations around the world. In the months following her graduation from Boston University, she began working as a legal assistant in an immigration and asylum law firm, aiding individuals from all over the world apply for asylum and lawful immigration status in the United States. Through this work, she helped many who had been left with no reparations or recourse due to failures of the international legal regime, gain some degree of relief. Moreover, in response to the imposition of intensified sanctions, as accompanied by the growing calls of war on Iran in the time after her graduation from Boston University, she began focusing on anti-war, Iran-related activism. In this effort, she found it imperative to create a space in the national narrative on Iran for the recent experiences of many Iranians with war and its impacts during the 1980’s. Through collaboration with organizations throughout the country, she also directed her energies to shedding light on the practical impact of sanctions on the lives of ordinary Iranians. In so doing, she traveled to Iran in March 2012 to document and research these effects. Upon returning, she presented her findings as a speaker in several panels in the Boston area as well is in several independent media. At WCL, she looks forward to exploring the intersection of these issues from a legal perspective and exploring the ways in which a legal education can be a medium for progress in the establishment of more just international and domestic policies.
BAS, Biomedical Science, BA, Urban Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 2009
Born in Los Angeles and later raised in Manila (Philippines) and Ohio, Charlotte has a wide variety of experiences that span the public and private sectors as well as healthcare and human rights issues. Charlotte graduated from UPenn with dual degrees in biomedical science and urban studies, a combination that speaks to her thirst for finding practical, social applications in every facet of her work. Her undergraduate research projects for biomedical science were driven by questions about poverty and inequality. During her senior year, Charlotte launched a thesis examining the macronutritional impacts of physical stress among low-income minority women. She also created an original empirical research study that quantitatively demonstrated the dearth of healthy eating options in urban food desserts. Charlotte maintained a strong commitment to public service work after college. After earning her bachelor’s degree, Charlotte found a job with a D.C-based health care consulting firm and regularly pursued community service opportunities in and out of the office. She organized fundraisers for charities and worked as a pro bono consultant for D.C. area nonprofits. Most recently, Charlotte worked in the Philippines as a communications fellow with International Justice Mission (IJM). IJM partners with public justice systems in developing nations to secure justice for victims of human rights crimes. During her time with IJM, she had the privilege of interviewing human trafficking victims and telling their stories through written articles and film. Working for IJM has affirmed Charlotte’s commitment to social justice issues. One of the memories she will always carry with her was telling a victim about the conviction of her trafficker. It was in that moment, when the client broke down in tears of joy, that Charlotte cemented her decision to pursue law school. Charlotte is thrilled to be part of the PIPS and Washington College of Law community. She plans on further exploring her interests in healthcare and human rights issues while at WCL. When not working, Charlotte enjoys exploring D.C. on foot, finding hole-in-the-wall restaurants, running (at a slow pace), watching cheesy movies, and trying to figure out how to use her DSLR.
Class of 2015Alia Al-Khatib
B.A., Psychology and Hispanic Studies, Vassar College, 2008
Alia joins the PIPS community after spending a year in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a Vassar Maguire Fellow. While in Buenos Aires, she interned at Equipo Latinoamericano de Género y Justicia (ELA), where she researched issues surrounding gender violence and legalizing abortion in Argentina. Alia first began working as an advocate for survivors of violence in college when she interned at a domestic violence shelter and a non-residential domestic violence program. After graduating, she moved to New York City in order to work as a Senior Case Manager in Brooklyn Criminal Court for the Early Victim Engagement Project. In this capacity, she informed domestic violence survivors of their rights within the criminal justice system and advocated on their behalf with the District Attorney's Office and the police. It was during these interactions within the criminal justice system when Alia became aware of the deep class and race injustices that exist within this very system.
Hoping to learn more about criminal justice issues and broader impact change, Alia began working as a paralegal for the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she primarily worked on a class action lawsuit to reform New York State's public defense system. She also contributed to the NYCLU's work related to various civil liberties issues ranging from reproductive rights to immigrants' rights. Alia is excited to continue her work as an advocate for social justice, both at the national and international level.
B.A., Political Science and Minor in Russian/Eurasian Studies, Colorado College, 2009
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Carlie grew up in Hawaii, New Mexico and Colorado. She matriculated at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado with the intention of majoring in biology; however, a course on Middle Eastern politics ignited an enthusiasm for international policy early into her college career which prompted her to major in political science with an emphasis in international relations and a minor in Russian/Eurasian studies. During her undergraduate studies, Carlie focused on state capacity and how decisions made at the national level impact citizens of countries in political transition, particularly in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. In 2008, she was selected as the Colorado College representative for a non-resident Presidential Fellowship with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress during which time she developed and presented a research paper regarding the psychological implications of the Cold War on current American-Russian relations.
After graduating Cum Laude from Colorado College in 2009, Carlie joined the state staff of U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. Following a year in the Western Slope Office where she managed a large and varied caseload that encompassed housing, immigration issues, Veterans benefits and Internal Revenue Service cases, Carlie relocated to the main Denver Metro Office to specialize in issues relating to housing, banking and consumer protection. As the foreclosure crisis worsened, her primary area of focus became assisting homeowners who were struggling to avoid foreclosure. By identifying key Congressional liaisons in some of the country's largest banks, Carlie was able to facilitate enhanced communication between the homeowners and their servicers and advocated to ensure that the homeowners were receiving thorough consideration for all available assistance.Through her work in the Senator's office, Carlie developed a passion for direct advocacy which led to her decision to pursue a legal education and work in public interest law. While at WCL, she hopes to continue her work with housing advocacy as well as explore her interest in international policy.
B.A., Political Science and Economics, Trinity University, 2008
Pamela grew up in Garland, Texas. While earning her undergraduate degree at Trinity University in San Antonio, Pamela interned at San Antonio's U.S. Western District Court, the House of Commons in London, and the Supreme Court of the United States. After graduation, she traveled to Ecuador, where she taught a summer school course in an indigenous farming village. Upon her return to the United States, Pamela moved to Washington DC where she served as an Americorps Volunteer. During that year, she worked with So Others Might Eat at Shalom House, a transitional house for DC's homeless adults.
For the past two years, Pamela worked at the Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, Connecticut. As a part of the Family Based Recovery Program, Pamela provided in-home substance abuse treatment to parents with young children. She looks forward to continuing her commitment to the community's under-served populations during her time at WCL.
B.A., Hispanic Studies, The College of William and Mary, 2007
Born and raised in Virginia, Lindsay graduated summa cum laude from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia with a degree in Hispanic Studies. She studied abroad in Buenos Aires, where she spent most of her time dancing tango and teaching English. She also founded the Swing Dance Club at William & Mary. Lindsay was particularly fascinated by an Immigration, Assimilation, and Ethnicity class that she studied her senior year Upon graduation, Lindsay worked as an immigration paralegal at Greenberg Traurig. She then took a break from legal work to teach English in Liberia, Costa Rica through the government agency "el Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje". She also volunteered with the Migration section of the Pastoral Social Diócesis de Tilarán by assisting with consultations, event planning, and community meetings.
Upon her return to the United States, Lindsay began working as an immigration paralegal at Maggio + Kattar, an immigration boutique in Dupont Circle with a strong dedication to community service. Lindsay's work at Maggio + Kattar convinced her that she was ready to begin her legal studies. She hopes that her experience as a PIPS scholar at WCL will expand her ability to serve the immigrant community globally.
B.A., English, Vassar College, 2010
Sarah grew up in a small town in central Pennsylvania and developed an interest in a myriad of social justice issues as a student at Vassar College. As an undergraduate, Sarah had the opportunity to work with different civil rights and civil liberties non-profit organizations. As an intern with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, she prepared reports on juvenile sentencing practices and immigration detention for use in lobbying campaigns at the state level. Sarah also worked at the New York, NY-based Center for Constitutional Rights, where, among other things, she provided research concerning the due process rights of arrestees for use in an amicus brief to the Louisiana Supreme Court. After graduating from college in 2010, she worked for the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network's Community Justice Project, which advocates for the protection and enhancement of the rights of low-wage workers and poor families. At the CJP, she focused on the development of new anti-poverty strategies, specifically those related to postsecondary education and workforce development programs for low-income persons.
Following her time at the CJP, Sarah worked as a corporate legal assistant at a law firm in New York, where her work focused on tracking the implementation of the financial reform legislation enacted in the wake of the financial crisis. Sarah is excited to join the WCL community, where she hopes to continue to explore her interests in domestic human rights, criminal justice reform, and gender issues.
B.A., Human Rights and Sociology, Bard College, 2010
Robert was born and raised in York, Pennsylvania, where he developed an interest in human rights and social justice from a young age. After campaigning extensively through his junior and senior years of high school to raise awareness of the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, Robert continued and expanded his efforts while studying human rights and sociology at Bard College. While in college, Robert went through a police academy and served in the state of Delaware as a municipal police officer. He also volunteered for 3½ years with the Red Hook Fire Company in New York, making the rank of Second Lieutenant before leaving the department to attend WCL. During his undergraduate studies, Robert became increasingly interested in the relation between international human rights law and U.S. domestic policy. His undergraduate thesis involved in-depth research of human rights violations at U.S. immigration detention facilities, a topic which he has continued to explore since graduating Bard.
While a student at Bard, Robert founded a small human rights research center and began developing a few research initiatives and other projects, including an interdisciplinary journal, which aims to foster discussion and broaden public understanding of human rights by incorporating arts, academics, law, politics, and current events into an accessible medium for a wide readership. While pursuing a JD/MPP at American University, Robert plans to continue running and expanding his research center—and to start working with the many great resources already available in the DC area—with the goal of developing effective ways to bring about domestic human rights reforms in state and federal arenas.
B.A., Political Science and Women's Studies, George Washington University, 2010
Shaina has been involved in public service work for much of her life, beginning in her home state of Rhode Island, where she held her first internship for the Office of the State Attorney General at age seventeen. A year later, after interning for the Office of the Governor, she left Rhode Island for Washington DC to attend college at George Washington University. While at GW, Shaina was involved in a variety of student organizations and causes. She continued to learn about government and politics, serving as an intern for Senator Jack Reed, and she discovered her love for nonprofit work through an internship at Carpenter's Shelter, a homeless shelter in Alexandria, VA. In the summer before her senior year, Shaina began work at District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH), a domestic violence housing program in Washington DC. For the next three years, she served in a variety of different positions in the organization. As an intern, she laid the groundwork for a volunteer program and organized a national grassroots campaign for safe housing funding. Later, as a full-time resident advocate, she worked directly with residents of DASH's transitional housing program to provide resources and emotional support. In her last year with the organization, she served as Development Services and Volunteer Coordinator, managing DASH's various volunteers and overseeing in-kind donations.
Shaina's experiences at DASH solidified her passion for combating violence against women, as well as educated her on the intricacies of nonprofits. Her decision to pursue a law degree stemmed from the injustices that DASH residents encountered daily as they fought to reclaim their lives from abuse. Shaina is thrilled to be attending WCL, a school so historically supportive of social justice, and is looking forward to participating in clinical programs and volunteer opportunities in her time here.
B.A., International Studies and Politics, Brandeis University, 2009
Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, Rachel's interest in social justice issues and specifically working with the Latino community was sparked while spending the summer between her junior and senior year of high school as part of a community service and Spanish immersion program in Granada, Nicaragua. She continued to pursue these interests while studying at Brandeis University, during which time she spent a semester studying at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán in Mexico and a summer volunteering in a Nicaraguan public school. Rachel's interest in workers' rights and migrant health was further developed as an undergraduate intern at Farmworker Justice in Washington DC, where she did research for the health team. After graduation, Rachel participated in a year of service through AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. As part of this program, she worked as the Clinic Coordinator at the DC Employment Justice Center (EJC), coordinating a weekly clinic that assists low-wage workers who face employment related legal issues. After her year of service ended, Rachel joined The Legal Aid Society of DC as a legal assistant in the family law unit, where she provided litigation support for attorneys working on domestic violence, child custody and child support cases. She later re-joined the staff of the EJC as the Clinic Manager, where she took on additional responsibilities from her previous role, including running a workers' rights clinic in Southeast DC and assisting in the referral of pro bono cases.
Rachel also serves as a member of DC Advisory Council for AVODAH, where she supports the yearlong program by assisting with fundraising, recruitment and support for the current corps members. As a student at WCL, Rachel is looking forward to continue learning about the issues facing low-wage workers while exploring other areas of the law, particularly issues that disproportionately affect marginalized communities.
Class of 2014Rachael Curtis
B.A., History, University of California, San Diego, 2008
Originally from Idaho, Rachael studied Middle Eastern History at the University of California, San Diego. During college, Rachael volunteered extensively with the International Rescue Committee, a non-profit organization that aids refugees. This experience made Rachael passionate about helping victims of tragedy, violence, and crime.
After graduating, Rachael moved to Naples, Italy where she worked as a paralegal for the U.S. Navy JAG Corps. Rachael’s work covered a broad range of legal areas including international, administrative, tax, immigration, and criminal law. Her three years in Naples gave her a unique look inside government agencies and one of the world’s largest public service organizations, the U.S. Department of Defense.
Since matriculating at American University, Rachael has interned with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., with Judge Florence Pan at D.C. Superior Court, and with the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office in Maryland. Rachael is an Articles Editor on the American University Law Review, and a member of the Mock Trial Honor Society.
After graduating law school, Rachael hopes to move back to the western United States and work as a criminal prosecutor.
B.A., International Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2007
Amy was born in California but raised mostly in North Carolina. As an undergraduate at UNC, she studied globalization and international development, with a focus on Latin America. One summer Amy interned with Student Action with Farmworkers as a health outreach worker visiting migrant farmworkers. That experience exposed her to the questions of poverty and development that were playing out in the tobacco fields of North Carolina. One year after graduation, Amy went to work as an organizer for the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, International, where she worked to organize non-union facilities in the retail industry in Arizona, the meatpacking industry in Kansas, and the public sector in Maryland. These battles exposed her to the weakness of labor laws in this country and the vulnerability of workers in non-union jobs.
B.A., Political Science and Women's Studies, Colgate University, 2008
Originally from West Chester, Pennsylvania, Lydia developed an early interest in political engagement. At Colgate University, Lydia pursued those interests in her studies and extracurricular activities as she began organizing her peers on a variety of issues including voter registration, campaign finance reform, and women's issues. After graduation, she moved to Albany, New York to take a position as a grassroots organizer at Citizen Action of New York, a statewide social justice organization. At Citizen Action, Lydia organized local communities to engage in health care issues. Then in 2009, Lydia took a position at Families USA, a Washington, DC based consumer advocacy organization dedicated to achieving affordable health care for all. She came to Families USA in the heat of the health care reform debate. There, she advocated for reforms to expand coverage to more americans, particularly disadvantaged and low income populations. As a Field Associate, Lydia worked with grassroots organizations across the country to mobilize people in support of health care reform. In addition to her work at Families, she also organized a group of local people in her neighborhood to advocate for change. After the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, Lydia has been working with local advocates to ensure successful implementation of the new law. At WCL, Lydia hopes to continue to explore her interests in civic engagement, health and poverty law.
B.A., Latin American and Latino/a Studies, Vassar College, 2008
Claire developed an early interest in international justice and human rights through her undergraduate coursework and internships at various non-profit organizations. Claire worked on a number of issues ranging from ESL education to improving access to basic services such as food and housing. She also completed an internship in Paris, France at France Amérique Latine, an organization working to promote human rights, democracy and economic development in Latin America. Following graduation, Claire received a fellowship to live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a year where she used her time outside of class to teach dance and art to children at a local NGO. She then completed an internship at Justiça Global, an organization with a mandate to protect and promote human rights and strengthen civil society and democracy in Brazil. Claire contributed to research and reports on human rights violations in prisons as well as on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions in the country. Upon her return to the United States, Claire performed research for the National Security Archive regarding a genocide case in Guatemala and the assassination of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador. Claire went on to work for two years at the Coalition for the International Criminal Court in their New York City office. During her time there, Claire oversaw membership outreach to more than 2,500 NGO members around the world; attended the 2009 International Criminal Court meetings in The Hague and the 2010 ICC Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda; and contributed to global campaigns to ensure a fair, effective and independent ICC and improve access to justice for victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
B.A, History, Economics, and English, The Ohio State University, 2005
Christine spent a year with the Mercy Volunteer Corps from 2007-2008 and worked as a full-time volunteer at Mercy Education Project in Detroit, Michigan. MEP provides after-school tutoring, GED preparation, adult literacy, and other educational services to girls and women in Detroit. When her year with the Mercy Volunteer Corps ended she began working as a paralegal with the United Community Housing Coalition in Detroit. UCHC focuses on preventing homelessness through advocating for low-income Detroiters at risk of losing their housing due to eviction and foreclosure. Because of her experiences in Detroit, Christine is interested in community advocacy and development, housing law and policy, and poverty law. She looks forward to participating in volunteer and clinical opportunities at WCL and hopes to explore the outdoors in the DC area as well.
B.A., Spanish (Latin American Studies), Columbia University, 2005; M.A., Latin American Studies, Tulane University, 2008
Originally from Amherst, Massachusetts, Lauren graduated from Barnard College in 2005 with a degree in Spanish: Latin American Studies. Lauren received a Master's degree in Latin American studies at Tulane University in 2008, where she wrote her thesis on gendered barriers to cervical cancer prevention in Peru. Prior to law school, Lauren worked at public health NGOs in Peru, Bolivia, and the United States. Lauren plans to continue her work on gender and health issues, and is particularly interested in assisted reproductive technologies.
B.A., English, Harvard University, 2008
Matthew's younger sister, who has Down syndrome, has led to a lifelong interest in disability, but only as a senior in college did he develop an interest in law while studying special needs trusts. Matthew went on fellowship to work with people with intellectual disabilities in India and Bangladesh, where he returned to work for the Harvard Law School Project on Disability for two years. Matthew will be continuing his work while studying, which includes capacity building of self-advocacy groups and guardians of people with intellectual disabilities, public interest litigation, and legislative advocacy. Outside of work, Matthew enjoy reading, speaking, and cooking in Italian and Bangla, and playing basketball, soccer, and rugby -- though he cannot claim high levels of proficiency in any of the above.
B.A., Politics, New York University, 2006
Thais-Lyn Trayer joins the AU WCL community after three years with the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, where she managed legal reform programs throughout Asia. As ABA ROLI's youngest Program Manager, Ms. Trayer was responsible for the organization's second largest portfolio in the Philippines, and supported anti-corruption and judicial reform programs increasing access to justice and judicial efficiency. Ms. Trayer has also worked on criminal justice reform, anti-trafficking, and legal education projects in China, Mongolia, Cambodia, and Nepal. Additionally, she helped to secure funding for ABA ROLI's first program in Indonesia, which will assist civil society in legal advocacy efforts to strengthen the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights. Ms. Trayer's commitment to international development first began during her time in the United States Peace Corps, where she served for two years in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Ms. Trayer taught English in secondary schools in Poti, as well as assisted local NGOS in writing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating small grant projects. She established her community's first English language resource center, an English language scholarship program for disadvantaged high school students, and conducted one of the first PEPFAR-funded programs in Georgia to promote HIV/AIDS awareness peer education.
Upon return from the Peace Corps, Ms. Trayer helped to co-found Peace Corps Georgia's official alumni organization and facilitated its rapid start-up as a non-profit corporation following the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. Ms. Trayer graduated magna cum laude from New York University with a major in Politics and minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. While at NYU, Ms. Trayer worked for the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs and also interned at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Ms. Trayer speaks Georgian and has studied German, Czech, and Arabic. She is originally from Pennsylvania and enjoys traveling, learning languages, and playing the piano
B.A., Women's Studies, Earlham College, 2007
Liz graduated from Earlham College in 2007, where she deepened her understanding of social justice and developed a love of feminist theories as a Women's Studies major. At Earlham she co-convened the Womyn's Center, a student run campus space for woman-identified people.
After graduating from Earlham, Liz moved to Seattle where she completed a year of AmeriCorps service as a case manager for chronically homeless adults in the city's largest homeless shelter. Taking a liking to the Pacific Northwest, Liz stayed in Seattle for three more years, continuing to work in direct social service with homeless youth in shelter and transitional housing settings, as well as with survivors of domestic violence in a confidential shelter setting. Outside of work, Liz had the privilege of volunteering at Reel Grrls and at Legal Voice, two non-profits that tackle gender oppression from media and legal perspectives, respectively.
Liz believes that a legal education is a fitting next step for advancing her analysis of injustice and ability to work for social change. She is excited to join the WCL and PIPS communities, and proud to attend the alma mater of Alice Paul.