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Public Interest Scholars - Juris Doctor (JD)
USC Gould School of Law

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.

2020-21 Public Interest Scholars

Steph Argent

Undergraduate: California State University, Long Beach

Steph grew up in Dana Point, California and graduated from California State University, Long Beach where she received her BA in political science. Steph graduated summa cum laude in December 2019. As an undergraduate, Steph was highly involved, but everything she did had the same focus: helping others. Steph successfully fought a tuition increase, sat on a board for improving the status of women on-campus and volunteered in the Long Beach community as a President's Ambassador. Additionally, Steph completed five internships and a leadership fellowship during her undergraduate career. By far her favorite experience was her participation as a leadership fellow with George Washington's Mount Vernon. This opportunity helped Steph bring positive change to her campus with Donations for Citations, a program 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.

Steph has always considered the idea of going to law school, but that became her main focus when she took a course titled "How Democratic is the US?". She knew her greatest impact on the country and the world could be made with a law degree. Steph hopes to center her legal career on human rights and international development issues. When Steph isn't trying to solve injustice, she enjoys cooking, running, trying new restaurants and critiquing acclaimed film. Steph never expected she would have the opportunity to attend USC Gould and is incredibly humbled by her selection as a 2020 Public Interest Scholar. She will not take the opportunity for granted and looks forward to making her impact at USC before taking on the world. Fight On!

Daniel Costandy

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 world-wide, and has extended this passion into his legal aspirations to help bridge justice inequalities, especially in regards to homeless US 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.

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.

Daniel served as a law clerk in San Diego and is particularly interested in the Navy JAG Corps at some point in his career. Daniel is so excited to be in Southern California and LA in particular, and is looking forward to joining PILF and learning more about the public interest opportunities in the LA area.

Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff

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. As an undergraduate, Sophia was involved in her student government as the student rights chair, where she worked as the intermediary between students and the university administration involving violations of student rights. Sophia is also an active member of the honors fraternity Phi Beta Kappa and the pre-law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta. Sophia was selected as one of two interns for both the US Department of State in the Office of Foreign Missions and the United Nations in New York City. As an intern she acted as the liaison between the U.S. Mission and foreign diplomats from 190+ countries concerning criminal and civil violations, housing and tax exemptions. She gained hands-on diplomacy experience while regularly attending UN Security Council meetings and through drafting briefs for the Secretary of State's office. Research has always been a powerful aspect of her academic career. As a senior, she received a research grant to conduct her thesis abroad in London. Her studies outlined the political, social and economic effects of Brexit. Sophia's internship and research experiences have strengthened her interest in international law, and she looks forward to pursuing a public interest career with an international focus following graduation from USC Gould.

A proud second-generation American, Sophia has seen first-hand 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 Juris Doctor. Sophia is overjoyed to be a Trojan and cannot wait to enact change in Los Angeles County.

J. Zach Hollo

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.

Zach is part of Gould's Public Interest Scholars program, and he is interested in exploring the intersection of international human rights and technology. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, surfing and studying Mandarin.

Mairin McQueen

Undergraduate: Boston University

Mairin was born and raised in Los Angeles County. She graduated magna cum laude with a BA in film and television and cum laude with a BS in political science from Boston University in May 2020. As an undergraduate, Mairin was dually devoted to videography and public service. She recognized that film provides a powerful means to expose injustice and that law provides an effective means to achieve justice.

During internships at Planned Parenthood and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Mairin produced documentaries about legal obstacles to reproductive healthcare and unjust U.S. immigration policies. Mairin partnered with Planned Parenthood doctors to advocate for the ROE Act in Massachusetts and explain how judicial bypass requirements hurt minors seeking abortion care. She supported human rights lawyers pursuing reparations from the United Nations for bringing cholera to Haiti. During her junior year, Mairin worked full time with the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. The following summer, she volunteered full time with the ActionAid Federation in Sydney, Australia, working toward economic equality, climate justice, and empowerment for women across 45 countries.

In January 2020, Mairin joined Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's executive division as a digital assistant. She shot and edited press conferences covering topics such as gun control with activist David Hogg and racial disparities in health care with Rep. Ayanna Pressley. When COVID-19 hit, Mairin designed and translated "Know Your Rights" flyers in 10 languages to inform Massachusetts residents of their healthcare, housing, and immigration rights; over 19,500 flyers were distributed across the state. She also produced public service announcements for Attorney General Healey in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Cape Verdean Creole to inform residents of their rights as workers, tenants and community members during the crisis.

Mairin appreciates how legal work extends beyond using logic and persuasion, relying also on interpersonal connection and compassion. She is driven by public interest law's capacity to advance racial justice, defend reproductive freedom, and expand the rights of sexual assault and domestic violence survivors. Mairin is grateful to be back in Los Angeles attending her mother's alma mater, USC Gould. She looks forward to a career synthesizing logical reasoning, empathy and action.

Katherine Sims

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, in addition to interning with a variety of other organizations. 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 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 in her home district, electing Seattle's youngest ever city councilmember, and subsequently served as a council aide, working in municipal governance during the extraordinary events of 2020. Katherine is honored to be a part of the Public Interest Scholars Program and very excited to attend the USC Gould School of Law. She is grateful for the opportunity to join a community of passionate peers and learn the skills of effective legal advocacy in pursuit of a career in public service.

Leilani Stacy

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 with a double major in political science and economics, where 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.

Last year, as an AmeriCorps FoodCorps service member, Leilani taught students in Boston about food and nutrition, and her commitment to public service drove her application to law school. She is honored to be both a Honors Scholar and Public Interest scholar, and to be attending USC, her parents' alma mater. At Gould, she hopes to explore the areas of labor law and property law.

Nina-Marie Tauscher

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.

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

Rebekah Baird

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 J.D./M.S.W. student, Rebekah looks forward to Fall 2020 when she will start classes at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and begin her field placement at a Los Angeles-based shelter that supports homeless and trafficked youth. She is grateful for the vibrant public interest community at Gould, and for the opportunity to build an interdisciplinary, trauma-informed approach to her advocacy work.

Christopher Barwick

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.

This past summer, Chris was a Pro Bono Scholar for 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.

Chris is very excited for his second year at the USC Gould School of Law and is honored to be a part of the Public Interest Scholars program.

Samuel Clark-Clough

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 (ELL) 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, and in his 2L year he has joined the Post-Conviction Justice Project at USC Gould.

Sam chose law school because he believes that the law is a powerful instrument for social justice. He is excited to begin his career as an attorney and is always looking for the next adventure.

Alaina Flores

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 its 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 1L year, she was actively involved in the Latinx Law Students Association and the Criminal Law Society. This year she will serve as the vice president for both organizations. Alaina is also a JD Legal Writing Fellow and a member of the Hale Moot Court Honors Program. This past summer Alaina externed at the Riverside County District Attorney's Office. Alaina is looking forward to further pursing her passions for public interest and criminal justice through the many opportunities to come at USC and beyond.

Nancy Goodes

Undergraduate: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Nancy is from the small town of 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 aims to continue to center her legal career around sustainability initiatives. This past summer, she served as a law clerk with the California Department of Justice in their land law section to protect natural resources and ensure public access across the state. She is excited to learn what new opportunities and challenges will be offered to her in the field of environmental law for the rest of her time at Gould. With the support and guidance of the Public Interest Scholars program, she is also excited to take them on.

Linzie Hoffman

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 lead 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's Center, a non-profit in Venice, 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 (PILF) 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.

Matthew Palmquist

Undergraduate: Georgetown University

Matt Palmquist was born and raised amongst the apple-speckled farmlands of Eastern Washington. It was there, through conversations with his Burger King coworkers, that he learned of the draconian nature of our outdated immigration system and developed the passion for migrant advocacy that guides him to this day.

Matt graduated from Georgetown University in 2017 with a BA in Spanish literature and sociology with a concentration in social policy. During undergrad, funded by the Burger King Scholarship Foundation and fueled by instant coffee, he interned for multiple organizations that provided legal assistance to refugees. When one of them, the Refugee Alliance Network, was in dire need of funds, Matt designed, produced, and sold t-shirts at the 2017 Women's March in order to capitalize on the progressive energy of the largest, single-day protest in U.S. history.

After graduating, Matt was selected as a Fulbright Fellow to Mexico, where he taught English and worked at a nonprofit legal organization dedicated to helping asylum seekers. After his fellowship, Matt returned to the Pacific Northwest to join Boundless Immigration, a Seattle-based startup making software to guide applicants through the immigration process.

Matt spent his 1L summer at the LA Center for Law and Justice helping survivors of human trafficking apply for T and U visas. In the upcoming year, he will serve on the boards for the Asian Pacific Law Student Association, the American Constitution Society, and the International Law and Relations Organization. He is also an editor for the Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice. He looks forward to a year of awkward Zoom cold calls and continuing to learn how to use his JD to fight for migrants' rights.

Maura Reinbrecht

Undergraduate: New York University

Maura 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.

2018-19 Public Interest Scholars

Alina Edep

Undergraduate: Georgetown University

Alina grew up in South Florida before heading to D.C. to attend Georgetown University (Hoya Saxa!). She graduated with honors in 2018 with a BA in psychology with minors in Spanish and sociology. During her undergraduate career, she developed a passion for public interest work after interning with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in both Miami and D.C., as well as working as a research assistant studying juveniles in the criminal justice system who waive their right to an attorney. These experiences inspired her to apply to law school in order to one day become an attorney who makes a difference in these fields.

Alina largely chose USC Gould due to the Public Interest Scholars program and the opportunities it provides her to foster her passion for public interest through mentorship, summer job funding, and overall support. During her 1L summer, she worked as a law clerk at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office in the Organized Crime division. During her 2L year, she completed an externship with the California Attorney General's Office in the civil rights enforcement section of the public rights division and was a member of the Hale Moot Court Honors Program. During her 3L year, Alina will participate in the Post-Conviction Justice Project representing clients at parole hearings. Following graduation, Alina will join Stroock, Stroock & Lavan's Century City office as a litigation associate.

Taylor Jones

Undergraduate: Claremont McKenna College

Prior to attending Gould, Taylor served as the policy manager for Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure in the Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. During her five-year tenure, she worked on a small team responsible for implementing the governor's vision for clean transportation. She developed strategies to accelerate zero-emission vehicle adoption in California and coordinated the statewide efforts to make plug-in electric and hydrogen fueling stations commonplace in California.

Taylor's introduction to state government began with the California Capital Fellows Program, a yearlong post-graduate opportunity to work at the highest level of state government. In the governor's office, she developed competency in a broad range of environmental issues including toxic substances, sustainable buildings, and clean transportation, which emerged as her focus area.

During the summer of 2019, Taylor served as a law clerk in the environment section of the California Attorney General's Office, focusing on toxic tort litigation. Most recently, Taylor joined Perkins Coie LLP as a summer associate in the environment, energy, and resources practice group. As a Public Interest Scholar, Taylor seeks to share her enthusiasm for public service and continue to explore the intersection of people and the environment. She is consistently energized by the magnitude of the challenges ahead and the short timeline to make progress.

Jesse Mentz

Undergraduate: University of Southern California

Jesse grew up in Indianapolis, moving to Los Angeles to pursue his BA and MA in international relations at USC. During that time, he interned for International Justice Mission, the Scottish Parliament, and the U.S. Department of State. He spent much of his master's degree program studying the anti-trafficking movement. Through these experiences, Jesse developed a deep appreciation for the importance of a functioning public justice system.

Before law school Jesse worked for several years in finance, first as a consultant at a real estate valuation firm and later as an investment analyst for an endowment. Jesse and his wife have two children.

Jesse's relationship with Jesus motivates him to pursue law, having become convinced that the God of the Bible cares deeply about issues of violence, injustice, and oppression. Jesse spent his 1L summer as an intern at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Central District of California, his 2L year as a part of the International Human Rights Clinic, and his 2L summer at the law firm of Arnold & Porter.

Jesse enjoys craft coffee, the sound of a jazz trio and a mandolin, conversations about theology and purpose, Yosemite Valley, and spending time with his family.

Mirelle Raza

Undergraduate: Santa Clara University

Mirelle grew up in Boston before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area for her undergraduate studies in 2012. During her time at Santa Clara University, Mirelle was contracted at the Santa Clara County Office of Women's Policy, working specifically on policy and legislative initiatives including violence against women, criminal justice, and living wage ordinances. Mirelle later used her policy experience to co-author a petition that served as the largest student response to modifications regarding SCU faculty and staff access to reproductive health care. In her last year, Mirelle was accepted to a social justice study abroad program in Europe where she volunteered at a home for abused girls, while also participating in social justice projects in Italy, Croatia, and Bosnia. Mirelle graduated 14 months early magna cum laude with a double major in sociology and women's and gender studies.

Post-graduation, Mirelle went on to work for the San Francisco District Attorney's office as a victim advocate, specializing in sexual assault, child abuse, and human trafficking cases; it is here that she found a true passion for working closely with survivors of violence and was inspired to become an even stronger advocate by pursuing a Juris Doctor.

During her 1L Mirelle was awarded the Beverly Hills Bar Association Public Interest Scholarship, the Women's Law Association of Los Angeles Scholarship, and was named a Public Interest Fellow for the South Asian Bar Association of Washington, D.C. She spent her 1L summer as a law clerk at the U.S. Department of Justice in their child exploitation and obscenity section focusing on federal prosecution of child pornography, child exploitation, and sex tourism.

During her 2L year Mirelle took on leadership roles as president of the Barbara F. Bice Public Interest Law Foundation and academic chair of the C. David Molina First Generation Professionals program. She will continue serving as a 3L advisor to both organizations this year. Mirelle also worked in USC Gould's yearlong International Human Rights Clinic and as a Gould Admissions Ambassador. Additionally, Mirelle was awarded the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Northern California Public Interest Scholarship, the Equal Justice Works Conference Diversity Scholarship, and was selected to attend the National Women Law Students' Organization leadership academy at Harvard Law. Mirelle was named a 2020 Fair and Just Prosecution Fellow and spent her 2L summer working as a 2L Honors Law Clerk at the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Mirelle has been named USC Gould's first Human Trafficking Institute Douglass Fellow and will work as a fellow throughout her 3L year. In addition, Mirelle is a research assistant in Professor Thomas Lyon's Child Interviewing Lab. Mirelle is honored to be a part of USC Gould Public Interest Scholars program and looks forward to continuing to build connections with her classmates, mentors, and local public service leaders.

Ally Wong

Undergraduate: Purdue University

Ally was born and raised in Northern California. She graduated from Purdue University with a BA in history and philosophy. As an undergraduate, Ally was actively engaged in a variety of research projects related to policy and politics, including the impact of racial composition on state legislatures, the effects of appearance on female elected officials, and the experiences of Chinese students during the Chinese Exclusion Act. In her senior year, she became particularly interested in environmental issues after assisting in research on net zero energy housing policy.

Outside of school, she interned and worked in government offices at the local, state and federal level. These professional experiences instilled in her the importance of community engagement and political activism at every level of government. After graduation, Ally continued to cultivate her dedication and passion for policy by working in a congressional office.

During her 1L summer, Ally served as a law clerk for Senator Mazie K. Hirono's Judiciary Committee staff, where she worked on judicial nominations, immigration, criminal justice reform and partisan gerrymandering policy. In the fall semester of 2L, Ally externed for Earthjustice's Los Angeles office. Following her 2L year, Ally worked at Sheppard Mullin focusing on litigation.

Ally is excited to continue her education at USC Gould, and she is grateful for the support and community provided through the Public Interest Scholars program.