Meet USC Gould’s John Paul Stevens Foundation Fellows

Nandini Mony • January 11, 2024
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Two USC Gould School of Law students were selected as 2023 John Paul Stevens Foundation Fellows, which funds full-time summer internships in public interest law. Fellows are selected on the basis of a keen interest in public interest and social justice law, as well as academic achievement. Both Gould students are from the JD Class of 2024.

Jaya Loharuka

Jaya Loharuka hopes to practice immigration law, with a specialty in deportation defense. “I know I want to use my degree to empower people to combat the inequities of our legal system and advance towards better futures,” she says. “This fellowship has allowed me to remain committed to a field that is much less lucrative, yet far more rewarding, than the typical big law route. Without this fellowship, I would have been completely unpaid for my work this past summer, which would have meant more student loans.” Loharuka adds that the fellowship will help her to remain connected to the Gould alumni network as she pursues her career in public interest law. She has interned at the Esperanza Immigration Rights Project and Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) and worked as the lead lien negotiator at Jacoby & Meyers. She also served as a law student representative in USC Gould’s Immigration Clinic.

Edgar Preciado

From childhood, Edgar Preciado knew he wanted to be a public defender. “When I was 12 years old, I wrote a character letter on behalf of my father for his sentencing in federal criminal court,” he says. “As an impressionable young man who grew up in South Central L.A. around gangs, my father made some mistakes, but the prosecutor showed little sympathy. I remember being outraged by how the prosecutor characterized my father.” Preciado also appreciates the fellowship for connecting him to public interest advocates in a wide range of fields. Before law school, Preciado worked as an admissions officer at Princeton University, his alma mater. He has served as a law clerk at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and is currently in an apprenticeship at the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender. As an undergraduate Preciado was a judicial operations intern at the Compton Courthouse, Department Three.

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