Financial and programmatic support
The Berkeley Law Public Interest Scholars Program is a three-year scholarship covering full tuition and fees for J.D. students dedicated to public interest work. As part of its public mission and commitment to public interest students, Berkeley Law admitted the first class of Public Interest Scholars in 2021.
In addition to financial support, Public Interest Scholars are welcomed into a cohort of Scholars and public interest staff and faculty. At the same time, Scholars will find themselves among many others–students, faculty, staff, and community members alike–who are deeply committed to public interest lawyering. Berkeley Law’s public interest landscape reaches every corner of the law school and beyond.
With the Public Interest Scholars Program, Berkeley Law hopes to reduce the financial barrier law students face when deciding whether to pursue public interest legal careers after graduation. There is no post-graduation “qualifying employment” requirement nor any obligation to repay the scholarship should a Scholar not enter a public interest position; we understand that there are many ways to work to advance and increase access to justice.
How to apply
Candidates for the Public Interest Scholars Program must have a demonstrated interest and commitment to public interest legal work during and after law school. “Public interest” encompasses a broad range of practice areas and workplaces, but most often refers to work with a nonprofit, government agency, union, plaintiffs’ side firm, educational institution, community organization, or international NGO.
To be considered, you must submit a “Why Berkeley Law” statement that expands upon your interest in Berkeley Law’s public interest offerings. Your “Why Berkeley Law” statement must be included with your initial application materials. Please be sure your application materials, such as your personal statement and resume, reflect your interest, experience, and commitment to the field.
Review and selection
The deadline to apply is December 15. To ensure that you have a completed application by the review period, you must have taken the LSAT or other accepted standardized tests by the end of November. All of your required application materials must be submitted by December 15.
Every admitted student who applies for the program will be evaluated. We are looking for a strong commitment to public interest work pre-law school and a desire to continue in public interest work at Berkeley Law and beyond. Successful applicants not only show a commitment to public interest work, but also demonstrate leadership and initiative. We are looking for people who will be able to leave their mark on Berkeley Law and have a positive impact on their community.
Jonathan Simon joined the Berkeley Law faculty in 2003 as part of the J.D., JSP, and Legal Studies programs. He teaches in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, criminology, legal studies and the sociology of law.
Professor Simon’s scholarship concerns the role of crime and criminal justice in governing contemporary societies, risk and the law, and the history of the interdisciplinary study of law. His published works include over seventy articles and book chapters, and three single authored monographs, including: Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass (University of Chicago 1993, winner of the American Sociological Association’s sociology of law book prize, 1994), Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (Oxford University Press 2007, winner of the American Society of Criminology, Hindelang Award 2010) and Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America (New Press 2014).
Simon has served as the co-editor-in-chief of the journal, Punishment and Society, and the co-editor of the Sage Handbook of Punishment & Society (along with Richard Sparks). He is a member of the Law & Society Association and the American Society of Criminology. Simon’s scholarship has been recognized internationally with appointment as a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship at the University of Edinburgh (2010-11), a Fellow of the Israeli Institute for Advanced Studies (2016), and a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2018). In 2016 Simon was recognized for his scholarship on the human rights of prisoners with the Docteur honoris causa de la Faculté et de l’Institut, Faculté de Droit et Criminologie, Université Catholique de Louvain.
Meet the Scholars
Samahria (she/her) is interested in holistic advocacy within criminal, youth, and family defense work. She graduated from Brown University in 2021 with a degree in Urban Studies. Samahria grew up in Albany County, New York, and she spent her undergraduate years interning at the Albany County Office of the Public Defender, the New York State Youth Justice Institute, and the Legal Aid Society Homeless Rights Project.
After graduating, Samahria worked as a paralegal for two years at Children’s Rights in New York City. There, she supported class action impact litigation cases addressing issues including the over-administration of psychotropic medication to youth with mental health needs in foster care and the provision of legally mandated special education services to youth incarcerated at an adult jail.
Samahria aspires to use her law degree to help build creative and anti-racist alternatives to the punitive legal institutions that underpin incarceration and family separation. In her free time, Samahria finds joy playing piano, painting, and picking up new grandmotherly crafts like weaving.
Nick (he/him) was born and raised in Albany, New York. He graduated summa cum laude from Middlebury College with a major in history and minors in French and global health. Nick’s thesis on state intervention on behalf of organized labor in the New Deal argued that the federal government somewhat successfully mobilized the concept of civil liberties to advance a novel economic standard of well-being for workers. Nick’s thesis won awards for best thesis in American history and best thesis in the humanities on an American topic at Middlebury and was published in Clio’s Scroll, The UC Berkeley Undergraduate History Journal.
After college, Nick turned his attention to state-created injustices and inequities in the criminal legal system, working at Federal Defenders of New York for five years: as paralegal, as chief paralegal, and then as the organization’s first data director. Nick participated in the holistic defense of hundreds of clients from pre-arraignment to post-sentencing, including supporting attorneys and clients in the courtroom in multi-week trials and suppression hearings. In one notable case, Nick developed digital investigatory leads over three years that contributed to the U.S. Department of Justice dropping the death penalty against a client facing federal murder charges. As chief paralegal, Nick worked to improve working conditions for non-attorney staff at Federal Defenders and to increase the fairness and equity of office processes like workload distribution, case assignment, and hiring.
Nick became the first data director at Federal Defenders thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Faced with hundreds of incarcerated clients who were cut off from their legal teams by the pandemic, Nick used the long days of isolation to teach himself to code. He then developed a first-of-its-kind legal call request and scheduling system for the entire New York defense bar. This system has to date enabled over 45,000 legal calls with incarcerated people at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center, the largest pre-trial detention facility in the United States.
At Berkeley Law, Nick plans to continue exploring the intersections of data, privacy, and criminal law. Nick enjoys outdoor rock climbing, reading about labor history and philosophy, and not taking himself too seriously.
Léo Mandani (they/them) was born and raised in Tehran, Iran before immigrating to Los Angeles. In 2020, they graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University with double majors in Quantitative Economics and Middle Eastern Studies. As an undergraduate, Léo worked as a Research Assistant at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where they examined the efficacy of legal statutes in protecting global labor interests, ranging from Eastern European migrant laborers in Germany to low-wage garment workers in Bangladesh.
After graduating, Léo moved back to California to work as a Paralegal at Altshuler Berzon LLP. There, they have assisted on a number of class actions that aim to advance workers’ rights, both directly in the labor context, such as combating gender wage discrepancies, and indirectly in the consumer protection context, such as challenging predatory vocational programs.
At Berkeley Law, Léo is excited to explore how to best attain economic justice through legislative drafting and impact litigation in the workplace and hopes to bring a perspective of the law that centers anti-poverty as one of its core tenets. In their spare time, Léo likes reading memoirs, perfecting their Iranian stew recipes, and developing an encyclopedic knowledge of the Real Housewives.
Cindy Nguyen (she/her) is a proud first-generation Vietnamese-American dedicated to building a more healthy, just, and equitable world for all. Originally from Edmonds, Washington, she later graduated magna cum laude from Colby College with a B.A. in Environmental Policy. At Colby, she cultivated a dedication to environmental and social justice. In particular, her summer exploring conservation and Indigenous sovereignty issues on the Colorado Plateau with the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at Northern Arizona University instilled her desire to uplift and support BIPOC leadership within the environmental movement. Subsequently, she sought to support environmental justice projects at various non-profits, including promoting access to green stormwater infrastructure in South Seattle’s Vietnamese communities with the Environmental Coalition of South Seattle and evaluating access to urban greenspace in Pennsylvania and Virginia with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
As a scholar, Cindy has extensively studied and approached environmental issues with an equity and racial-justice lens. Her senior thesis, for which she received an Honors in Environmental Studies, explored attitudes of nail technicians toward environmental-health concerns in Vietnamese owned and operated nail salons in Snohomish County, Washington. Her research on the social, economic, and physical dimensions of climate vulnerability in Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS) has also been published in Caribbean Geography and Frontiers in Environmental Science.
Following graduation, Cindy spent nearly two years as a Roger Arliner Young Clean Energy Fellow with Rocky Mountain Institute’s (RMI) Islands Energy Program. In her role, she provided technical research, analysis, and writing to support the development of clean energy pathways in Caribbean SIDS. In 2022, Cindy transitioned to working with RMI’s Climate Finance Access Network to help increase access to climate finance for capacity-constrained countries in the Global South. Her time supporting countries carve their own climate and development futures and build resilience deeply inspired her to seek out how traditional tools of power, including the law, can be used to bring power back into historically impacted communities.
Meghana grew up in the Bay Area. She graduated from Scripps College in 2017 with a degree in history. As an undergraduate, Meghana tutored and mentored multiple youth from low-income communities. She also served as president of the Hindu Society, where she collaborated with others to plan and lead celebrations of Hindu holidays for the community. Her proudest accomplishment was conducting research in the Tamil Nadu State Archives in India and writing an award-winning thesis of original research. Her focus was on how female temple dancers navigated the colonial legal system to advocate for their rights and protest the government’s oppression of their traditions in 19th-century India.
Post-graduation, she worked as an immigration paralegal for four years, assisting undocumented immigrants with a variety of legal cases. She also collaborated with local organizers and community members as part of a coalition dedicated to halting local ICE transfers. Her experience at the organization proved to be a formative one and led to an interest in community organizing, movement lawyering, criminal legal reform, and abolition. Many of the nonprofit’s clients were Mexican and Mexican American, which sparked a desire in Meghana to learn more about Mexico and develop a more nuanced understanding of migration factors. She then spent 2 years teaching English in Mexico as a Fulbright grantee, specifically in the cities of Aguascalientes and Merida.
At Berkeley Law, Meghana hopes to learn more about movement lawyering, criminal legal reform, abolition, and restorative justice. Her goal is to use her law degree to support those communities most affected by policing and the criminal legal system. In her free time, Meghana enjoys reading, watching movies, and dancing salsa and bachata.
Emily (she/her) was born and raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Brown University in 2020, with a double-major degree in Cognitive Neuroscience and Public Policy. In college, Emily was a co-captain of the Brown Mock Trial Team and ex-officio member of the Brown University Title IX Steering Committee.
After graduation, Emily worked for three years as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain & Behavior (CLBB). At CLBB, she worked on projects at the intersection of neuroscience and the law, such as a white paper on the science of the emerging adult brain for use by policymakers, judges, and attorneys.
At Berkeley Law, Emily is interested in pursuing “neuroscience for justice” and improving access to neuroscience research in the courtroom, particularly for under resourced and pro se litigants. In her free time, Emily loves to backpack to new countries, cook Taiwanese dishes with her grandmother, and practice vinyasa yoga.
Rosie Rios (she/her/ella) is born and raised in Baldwin Park, California and is the proud daughter of immigrants. Her mother is from El Salvador and her father is from Mexico. As an activist, organizer, and the “word weaver” of her family, she has been fluent in English and Spanish all of her life. As a long time organizer and former social worker, she has extensive experience supporting and uplifting people directly impacted by “crimmigration” — the intersection of the criminal legal system and immigration, where she offers trauma and healing-informed, bilingual services. She has been a holistic defense practitioner for the Bronx Defenders in the immigration practice and the Santa Barbara Public Defender’s office in the criminal defense practice.
Before joining Berkeley Law, Rosie served as the Managing Director for the UCLA Prison Education program where she channeled her efforts to create access for higher education to incarcerated people in county, state, and federal prisons. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Labor and Workplace Studies from UCLA and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work.
Rosie intends to use her law degree to continue serving people in underserved communities, like the one that helped raise her. In her free time, Rosie enjoys snowboarding and grounding herself with nature.
*deferred to Class of 2027
Rose started 350 Bay Area’s youth chapter at 15 and later spearheaded initiatives with the Sunrise Movement, Future Coalition, and Project Super Bloom. Rose’s organizing efforts were featured in the Guardian and the New York Times. Eager to turn her advocacy into real policy change, Rose sought to understand the inter-workings of the political process. She interned on the hill and with her local government. She worked as an analyst for the California Energy Commission, a graduate student researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Electricity Markets and Policy Group, and most recently completed an internship at the White House Infrastructure Implementation Team focused on energy policy.
As a public policy and law student, Rose hopes to work at the intersection between policy and politics by making climate policy accessible to those who are not professionals and politicians. Rose graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a BA in Environmental Studies and a minor in Poverty, Inequality, and Social Justice in 2021. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the outdoors and playing guitar.
Lande Watson (she/her) grew up in the Bay Area and is thrilled to be back for law school. She graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors in Political Communication from George Washington University, where she was a member of the University Honors Program.
Prior to pursuing a public interest legal career, Lande held advocacy and communications roles in government and nonprofits. She was a member of the communications team at the Asian Law Caucus (ALC), the country’s first legal aid and civil rights organization serving low-income Asian Pacific American communities. At ALC, she collaborated with attorneys and community advocates to oppose the double punishment of immigrant and refugee community members, fight abusive workplace practices, and support older tenants in San Francisco. Before joining ALC, Lande served as Deputy Director of Speechwriting and Research for California Governor Gavin Newsom. She is especially proud of her work on the Governor’s death penalty moratorium and the state’s COVID-19 response. Lande was also an organizer for NARAL Pro-Choice California during the 2018 election cycle. Before moving to Berkeley, she spent a year in Japan’s Ibaraki Prefecture, teaching English to high schoolers through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET).
Lande is interested in criminal and immigration law and excited to explore the variety of public interest opportunities at Berkeley Law. She enjoys long-distance running, trying new restaurants and coffee shops, and spending time with family and friends.
Ianna Zhu was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2022, she graduated summa cum laude from UC Berkeley as a double major in Psychology and Political Economy with a concentration in health policy and inequality. Her honors thesis analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey to examine the causal effect of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Expansion on access to and utilization of mental health care services among minority and immigrant populations. As an undergraduate, she was a research assistant for the Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law and interned with JusticeCorps at the Self-Help Center in Hayward.
Upon graduating, Ianna has been advocating for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking at Asian Americans for Community Involvement, a nonprofit in the South Bay dedicated to serving and improving the health and wellness of those who are marginalized and vulnerable in our diverse community.
She is excited to be staying in the Bay Area to attend Berkeley Law. As a first-generation professional student, she plans to study the law critically with the questions of how vulnerable communities like immigrants with language barriers, those with low socio-economic status, and those who have faced trauma will be impacted. In her free time, Ianna enjoys volunteering at her church and reading while enjoying a nice hot cup of tea.
Originally from Southern California, MacKenna (she/her) graduated magna cum laude from NYU in 2019 with a BS in Secondary English education and double minors in Urban Education and Public Policy. As an undergraduate, MacKenna studied the harmful impacts of privatization on education as both a research assistant for NYU and USC, and as an education consultant for schools in Los Angeles.
After graduation, MacKenna taught 7th and 8th grade history and English in Brooklyn, New York where she created anti-racist curriculum scorecards and teaching practices for her charter network to implement across all subject areas. By working at a charter school, MacKenna deepened her passion for fighting against privatization and for tackling factors outside of education that contribute to economic inequality. She is excited to continue this work at Berkeley as a Public Interest Scholar.
In her free time, MacKenna enjoys reading, making unnecessary lists, and spending time with her cat, Chubs.
Leily Arzy was born and raised in Los Angeles. In 2019, she graduated summa cum laude from Emory University. Her honors thesis examined the factors contributing to over a decade of juvenile justice reform across the United States.
Leily joins Berkeley Law after two years at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York City where she worked to end mass incarceration. She conducted research and authored analyses on a wide range of criminal justice issues, including state policing reforms following George Floyd’s murder and efforts to overhaul cash bail in California. Leily also engaged in legislative advocacy at the state and federal levels—frequently working with Congress to advance critical reforms, including legislation that would reduce incarceration during the COVID-19 pandemic and eliminate the federal crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity.
Prior to the Brennan Center, Leily spent a year in Sacramento as a Judicial Fellow with the Judicial Council of California, the policy and rule-making body for the state’s judiciary. Leily’s work focused on promoting the equitable administration of justice in state courts. Her culminating project was a best practices guide for courts to effectively implement and comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Outside of school, Leily enjoys spending time with friends and family, listening to live music, and baking sourdough bread.
Marian Avila Breach
Marian Avila Breach (she/hers/ella) graduated summa cum laude from UC Santa Cruz in 2020 with double majors in Philosophy and Politics. Born in Northern Mexico to a Mexican family, she grew up in the Bay Area but has been fortunate to maintain strong ties to Mexico. As an undergraduate, Marian led an investigative team as part of UC Santa Cruz’s inaugural Human Rights Investigation Lab. Her work in the lab involved the use of open source investigative techniques to verify human rights abuses in Latin America. Upon graduation and in response to her experiences with the lab, Marian began volunteering with the the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCRSF) in the capacity of interpreter for asylum cases.
Following an interest in the intersection between marginalization and criminalization, Marian joined the Santa Cruz Public Defender’s Office as an investigator and assisted trial attorneys preparing defendants for trial. Impulsed by her experiences in public defense, Marian sought out a tutoring opportunity with Mount Tamalpais College, an accredited college within San Quentin Prison. There, Marian helped the San Quentin Ethics Bowl team prepare for annual Ethics Bowl competitions hosted at San Quentin against teams from a variety of Bay Area universities. Marian continues to volunteer with MTC, finding joy and purpose within the MTC community.
At Berkeley Law, Marian has reaffirmed her commitment to public interest law. As an upcoming leader for La Alianza Tenants’ and Worker’s Rights SLPS, Marian hopes to further address the need for intersectional legal work in the public interest realm and sustain pathways through which Berkeley Law students can continue giving back to their community.
Ayeza (she/her) was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She graduated from Yale University in 2020 with a degree in Sociology and wrote her thesis on the efficacy of medical-legal partnerships in targeting the negative health effects of substandard, unaffordable housing.
After she graduated, Ayeza worked as a paralegal at Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) on their litigation team, which challenged restrictions to reproductive health care in over a dozen states, in both federal and state courts. While her two years at PPFA were marked by major losses for the reproductive rights movement, this only made her more confident that she wanted to pursue a career in public interest law and use the legal system to to push for health equity.
Ayeza intends to use her law degree to fight for reproductive justice and she looks forward to exploring the many ways of doing so during her time at Berkeley Law. In her free time, you can find Ayeza cooking Pakistani food or synchronized swimming.
Tiffaney Boyd (She/Her) is passionate about challenging inequality, expanding access to justice, and uplifting community voices. She grew up in Hemet, California, and graduated magna cum laude as a double major in Communication and Social Science with an emphasis on Critical Intercultural Communication from California State University San Marcos. As a first-generation college student, Tiffaney’s activism and position as Student Body President led to the creation of a student-led food pantry to alleviate student hunger and a student resource center for Black students. During undergrad, she also worked for the San Diego District Attorney’s Office with their victim’s unit, and her research on “Safe Spaces” was published in the International Undergraduate Journal for Service-Learning, Leadership, and Social Change.
After graduation, Tiffaney spent more than five years working in politics and public service. She most recently worked as a Legislative Director in the California State Assembly. Throughout her time in government, she made a concerted effort to advocate and uplift communities of color through legislative channels. Tiffaney was instrumental in passing legislation on institutionalizing trauma-informed criminal justice reform, expanding food security for college students, and requiring Ethnic Studies for college graduates at the CSU. Beyond working for the Legislature, where she began as a Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellow, Tiffaney has also served as a Policy Director for a statewide ballot measure and worked as the Policy and Government Affairs Director for the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.
Tiffaney hopes to leverage the skills gained from her time in government and her legal education to bridge the gap between access, justice, and policy for marginalized and low-income communities of color. In her spare time, Tiffaney enjoys traveling, listening to podcasts, and practicing yoga.
Julianna Gay (she/her) grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. She attended Cornell University, where she earned her B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations and double minored in Law & Society and Crime, Prisons, Education & Justice. While at Cornell, Julianna co-founded an organization known as the Parole Preparation Project, which helped incarcerated individuals navigate the challenging process of obtaining parole. Julianna also had the opportunity to intern with Judge Richard Berman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In this role, she also advocated for formerly incarcerated individuals who were on supervised release.
These experiences have emboldened Julianna to dedicate her legal career to fighting for a more just and rehabilitative carceral system. Specifically, she desires to continue to advocate for Black and Brown individuals who are often disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system.
In her free time, Julianna has a passion for painting, playing softball/volleyball, and spending time outdoors.
Mackenzie (she/her) grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri in 2022. She received degrees in philosophy and political science. As an undergraduate, Mackenzie participated in multiple activities on and off-campus including serving as a site leader for an alternative breaks service organization, competing in collegiate mock trial, and leading as president of the first-generation students association.
Outside of school, Mackenzie worked under a property rights attorney as an administrative assistant. She gained experience assisting in multiple trials and preparing various court documents. Mackenzie is interested in becoming a legal advocate for homeless/at-risk youth who are occluded from legal representation.
At Berkeley Law, she’s curious to learn more about the intricacies of the homelessness crisis from an empathetic, yet an objective point of view, specifically as it relates to homeless teenagers and their pivotal positions in society. During her 1L summer, Mackenzie is interning at Bay Area Legal Aid in the Consumer Protection section. In addition to working on debt collection defense cases, she will also be working on affirmative impact litigation against a big bank, which is set to go to trial this summer. She is also working as a research assistant for Professor Davis. Here at Berkeley Law, Mackenzie is the Director of the Homelessness Service Project and helped found a new service project called the Algorithmic Justice Project in her 1L year. Under the direction of Professor Mermin, they are investigating how algorithmic decision making harms prospective tenants.
In Mackenzie’s free time, she enjoys working out, meditating, and spending time with friends and family—many of who inspired her to attend law school!
Adriana Herrera (she/her) was born and raised in Rochester, New York. She graduated from The New School in 2018, where she co-led programming for students of color that ultimately led to the establishment of the first-ever community space for students of color on the university’s campus.
Post-graduation, she worked as a Program Coordinator at Cool Culture, a Brooklyn-based organization that uses art and culture to propel social change in schools, cultural institutions and communities. For the past year, she has worked with the Center for Educational Leadership, supporting nationwide professional learning opportunities for K-12 district leaders. In 2021, she had the honor of contributing to the Free Minds, Free People national conference for liberatory education.
At Berkeley Law, Adriana is excited to explore the breadth of public interest opportunities in education policy and beyond. Adriana is also an aspiring baker, recovering sneaker collector, and Gemini.
After graduating, Peter worked as a Paralegal at Altshuler Berzon LLP and a Legal Assistant at Gladstein, Reif & Meginniss, LLP. The two law firms specialize, among other things, in representing labor unions and workers. His exposure to that work generated an interest in the role lawyers can play supporting social movements, which he is excited to pursue at Berkeley Law.
As a law student, Peter is on the Executive Board of the Berkeley Law and Political Economy (LPE) Society. He is also an Articles Editor with the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law and co-leads the Berkeley Law and Organizing Collective (BLOC). BLOC is a pro bono project that provides legal support to UAW Local 2865, the labor union for academic student employees across the UC system.
In his free time, Peter plays volleyball and enjoys weightlifting and watching movies in theaters.
A Michigan native, Bhavya (she/her) is dedicated to leveraging the law to design a more humane, equitable health care system. In 2020, Bhavya graduated from the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy with a concentration in Health Policy and a minor in Writing. As an undergraduate, Bhavya worked at the Center for Value-Based Insurance Design (V-BID Center), an organization which aims to improve health outcomes and contain costs by aligning stakeholders around high-value health care. Bhavya was also dedicated to strengthening the connections between students at the University of Michigan and Detroit-based community partners through her involvement in clubs such as The Detroit Partnership.
After graduating, Bhavya moved to Washington, DC and began work as a research assistant at the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC), a nonpartisan legislative branch agency that provides the U.S. Congress with payment policy analysis on the Medicare program.
At Berkeley Law, Bhavya hopes to continue to explore how public health interventions can make the United States health care system more accessible, affordable, and humane. Outside of school, she is excited to try new coffee shops, trail run, and hammock with the company of a good book.
Taylor is a second-year student at Berkeley Law interested in legal advocacy that advances the work of communities who are building a world beyond the prison-industrial complex. In 2020, Taylor graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Political Science, and spent her summers interning with the D.C. Public Defender Service and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. Before law school, Taylor conducted research as a master’s student on the history of US counterinsurgency, policing, and the George Floyd uprisings.
As a law student, Taylor has rooted their legal study in work that fights policing and surveillance through internships with Stop LAPD Spying Coalition and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Taylor has also been a part of student-led pro bono projects that challenge the expansion of digital surveillance technologies and provide legal support to incarcerated people while at Berkeley. These experiences have shaped Taylor’s commitment to community and movement lawyering that is grounded in an abolitionist framework. Outside of law school, Taylor is active in abolitionist and Palestine solidarity organizing in the Bay Area.
Jamilah McMillan graduated magna cum laude from Monmouth University in 2017 with a major in political science and double minors in journalism and graphic design. As an undergraduate, Jamilah was the news and managing editor of her university’s students run newspaper, the president of the Muslim Student Association, and the founder and president of Student’s Advocating Girls’ Education.
After graduation, Jamilah worked at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office as a paralegal in the Alternatives to Incarceration Unit and as a member of the Equity & Social Justice Advisory Board. In 2019 & 2020 Jamilah was a Beyond the Bars Fellow at Columbia University’s Center for Justice where she learned about community organizing and abolitionist theory. Before moving to Berkeley, Jamilah did community organizing and defund policing work in Brooklyn, NY as a member of Democrat Socialists of America.
Jamilah’s interests in law stem from her family’s experience with the criminal justice system, and she intends to use her law degree to help Black and Brown communities avoid the disproportionate effects of prisons and policing in America.
Kevin grew up in Skagit County, Washington before moving to Los Angeles to study linguistics and Arabic. He later moved to the Bay Area to work in the field of automatic speech recognition. In 2014, Kevin founded an international organization that provides direct assistance to queer and trans people who have been rejected by their families. He is also involved in leftist political organizing in the East Bay, particularly in the area of tenant struggle. He speaks Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, and some French.
Kevin is interested in interrupting the violence of the carceral system and facilitating pathways for healing from personal and intergenerational traumas. At Berkeley Law, he’s curious to study the systems that perpetuate white supremacy, ableism, cis-heteropatriachy, and anti-poverty. His activities at the law school include Students for Justice in Palestine, Defenders at Berkeley, the Policy Advocacy Clinic, the Abolitionist Collective at Berkeley, and Queers United in Radical Subversion. He hopes to begin his legal career as a public defender in the Bay Area.
Kevin enjoys weightlifting, hot springs, and preparing food for loved ones. He is a passionate birdwatcher and documents his exploits on Instagram @kevbirds. Recently, he was very excited to observe his first American Dipper at the Yuba River.
Amanda Young (she/her/hers) is a proud Bay Area native and is excited to continue local advocacy at Berkeley Law. Most recently, she worked as an Organizer and Program Associate at the ACLU of Northern California. At the ACLU, she organized with the gender, sexuality, and reproductive justice team, leading campaigns to protect reproductive and LGBTQ health care from religious restrictions, and working with labor organizers to pass local and statewide paid leave policies. Additionally, she managed an organizing and racial justice training program for young BIPOC leaders in the Central Valley.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Amanda worked at the Legal Aid Association of California in Oakland, advocating for increased legal aid funding. Before LAAC, she was an AmeriCorps fellow at Healthy Start of Southern Oregon, a national infant mortality prevention program, and also worked in Washington D.C. as a health care policy analyst.
Amanda graduated with highest honors from Duke University with an A.B. in Public Policy and a minor in Arabic.
Outside of school, Amanda serves on the board of New Leaders Council- San Francisco. She also enjoys trail running, reading astrological charts, teaching mindfulness and meditation, and baking many types of pastries.