Student & Alumni Accolades

Students

Over the course of the 2017-18 academic year, UCI Law students have continued to earn top honors by winning competitions, scholarships, fellowships and grants, including the following:

CLASS OF 2023

CLASS OF 2022

CLASS OF 2021

  • Melissa Colon '21 is the recipient of a 2019 Mexican American Bar Foundation scholarship.
  • Michael Damasco ’21 received a full scholarship to attend the American Law Institute CLE’s annual course in Environmental Law in Feb. 2020 in Washington, DC. 
  • Marquise Findley-Smith ’21 was selected as a Black Public Defender Association Summer Fellow. He will work on joint assignments with the BPDA and The Bronx Defenders over the 2020 summer.
  • Daniel Ganz ’21 was named 2nd place winner of the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy’s 2018 Law Student Writing Competition. His award-winning paper is titled “Intellectual Property Protection for Food: Balancing Competing Policy Objectives.”
  • Kennedy Holmes '21 was named a Latham & Watkins 2019 1L Fellow. Fellows are selected for academic and leadership achievement and a demonstrated commitment to promoting inclusion and diversity in the legal profession. 
  • Samuel Johnson ‘21 was elected to the Esports Bar Association Public Policy Committee. 
  • Caleb Martinez '21 is the recipient of a 2019 Mexican American Bar Foundation scholarship
  • Anthony Perez ’21 is the recipient of the 2019 Federal Judicial Externship Program Scholarship from the Mexican American Bar Association. He also received a 2020 Mexican American Bar Foundation Scholarship.
  • Michaela Posner '21 was elected ABA Board of Governors Law Student At Large for the 2019-2020 year. 
  • Erik Jimenez Rodriguez ’21 has been awarded a 2019 Wally Davis Scholarship from the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association. He also received the 2019 Federal Judicial Externship Program Scholarship from the Mexican American Bar Association and the NAMWOLF law school scholarship.
  • Jordin Wilcher '21 was elected to serve as the Delegate of Programming on the 2020-21 American Bar Association Law Student Division Council. 

CLASS OF 2020

  • Nafisa Ahmed '20 received the Fran Kandel Public Interest Fellowship from the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles. As part of the fellowship, Ahmed will develop a know-your-rights seminar for immigrant and refugee women facing domestic violence problems. She also was named a 2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow. For her fellowship, she will provide advocacy, outreach, and direct legal services to AMEMSA (Arab Middle Eastern Muslim South Asian) domestic violence survivors in the greater Los Angeles area.
  • Jonhatan Aragon ’20 has been awarded a 2019 Wally Davis Scholarship from the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association. He also received the 2017-18 MALDEF Law School Scholarship, awarded to those with a demonstrated commitment to advancing Latino civil rights. Jonhatan was named a Top 10 Oralist of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition 2019 U.S. Pacific Regional at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. He also received a bar stipend from the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association Scholarship Fund.
  • Viridiana Chabolla Mendoza '20 was named the Scholar-in-Residence for the UCI DREAM Center. In this role, she will design and implement programming to support undocumented students, and provide mentorship to undergraduate students. She also was named one of O.C.'s most influential people by the Orange County Register. In March 2019, she was named a Peggy Browning Fellow. She will spend the 10-week summer fellowship working at Gilbert & Sachman in Los Angeles. 
  • Dion Diederich ’20 was named a 2019 Irell & Manella Diversity Scholar. She also is an incoming summer associate for Irell & Manella’s office in Newport Beach, CA. 
  • Deshani Florance (Senewiratne) ’19 received the 2019 Orange County Women Lawyers Association Diversity Bar Stipend Award.
  • Alessandra Fritz '20 was appointed Mental Health Coordinator and Liaison to the Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs for the ABA Law Student Division. 
  • Emily Genzlinger '20 was named runner-up for Law Student of the Year by National Jurist magazine (Spring 2020). She also was selected for an Equal Justice Works Regional Public Interest Award and was named a Gideon's Promise 2020 Law School Partnership Project Fellow.
  • Rachael Heller ’20 received the M. Katherine Baird Darmer Equality Scholarship in July 2018 from the OC Lavender Bar Association. The scholarship is named after the late Chapman Law Professor Darmer, a passionate advocate for LGBT equality, and is given to students who share her vision of a just society.
  • Parth Jani ’20 was awarded the Vincent A. Cino Scholarship from Jackson Lewis in October 2019. 
  • Emily Johanson ‘20 was selected as a Class of 2020 Justice Fellow by the Immigrant Justice Corps. As a Fellow, she will work as a staff attorney at Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition.
  • Avery W. Kunstler ’20 received the 2018 Donald L. Snow Scholarship from the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles.
  • Janista Lee ‘20 received scholarships from the Korean American Bar Association and the Orange County Asian American Bar Association in spring 2018.
  • Iris Ma ’20 received a scholarship from the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association (SCCLA) in Spring 2018.
  • Olivia Meme '20 was named the winner of the 2020 Academy for Justice and Arizona State Law Journal National Student Writing Competition for her entry "The Unkindness of Fate: Why Atkins v. Virginia Demands an Extension to Capital Defendants with a Cluster B Personality Disorder."
  • Yingge Ning ’20 is the recipient of a 2019 Volunteer Recognition Award from Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. Ning was selected for the award for strong research and writing skills, volunteer work at citizenship workshops, and leadership in training and mentoring other law students volunteering with the organization.
  • Grecia Rivas '20 received the California Bar Foundation's 1L Diversity Scholarship. She also received a scholarship from the Mexican American Bar Foundation (MABF).
  • Rouzbeh Soleymani '20 became a member of the Howard Markey Intellectual Property Inn of Court.
  • Delia Tasky ‘20 was selected by the Cuban American Bar Foundation Board of Directors for a CABA At-Large Scholarship
  • Courtney Thompson '20 received a 2018 Diversity Scholarship from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. Scholarship awardees receive $10,000 to help defray the cost of law school tuition and related expenses during the student's final year of law school. As part of the award, students also join the firm as summer associates. 
  • Saikrishna Upadhyayula '20 was selected as the recipient of the Sidney B. Williams Jr. Intellectual Property Law Scholarship for the 2017-18 year through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. 

CLASS OF 2019

  • Peter Bae ’19 received the 2018 Korean Prosecutors Association Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to law students who envision sharing the mission of KPA during their future careers as public prosecutors.
  • Edward Danielyan ’19 received the Armenian American Citizen’s League Scholarship in spring 2018.
  • Kevin Homrighausen’s ’19 paper on the failed negotiations that took place prior to WWI, titled “July Crisis,” will be published in the book Negotiations of Yesterday— Lessons for Today, edited by distinguished French diplomacy scholar Emmanuel Vivet.
  • Connie Lee '19 will be a summer 2019 NASA Space Law Network intern at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. 
  • Fernando Nuñez ’19 received a 2019 Leadership Award at the UCI Latino Excellence & Achievement Dinner! The award recognizes those who have advocated, supported and championed graduate student success and research excellence in the Latinx community at UCI and in Orange County. Fernando also was recognized by Congressman J. Luis Correa.
  • Grace Park '19 was awarded Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association's Ocinet Community Service Scholarship, Korean American Bar Foundation's Sihang "Jerry" Oh Memorial Scholarship, and Arnold & Itkin LLP Academic Scholarship for the 2017-18 academic year.
  • Emily Satifka '19 was awarded the Sol and Helen Zubrow Fellowship in Children's Law from the Juvenile Law Center. The two-year fellowship provides an annual salary as well as up to $10,000 per year toward payment of qualified education debt. 
  • Jaquesha Scott ’19 received the Black Prosecutors Association of Los Angeles Scholarship. She has worked as an extern for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office at the Norwalk Hardcore Gang Division and worked at the Compton Court Self Help Center. She was also named a 2019 California ChangeLawyers 3L Scholar. The scholarship is awarded to diverse law students committed to a career in public interest and social justice, and who is studying to take the California Bar Exam.
  • Cameron Sheldon ’19 is the recipient of the Beverly Hills Bar Association and Bar Foundation’s 10th Annual Rule of Law Writing Competition grand prize for her entry “Using 42 U.S.C. 1985(2) to Challenge Dragnet Immigration Enforcement at State Courthouses.”
  • Joyce Yu '19 won the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association's Sihang "Jerry" Oh Memorial Scholarship for the 2017-18 academic year.

CLASS OF 2018

  • Thea Alli ’18. Alli was selected by the Thurgood Marshall Bar Association  to serve as a Law School Ambassador for UCI Law.
  • Zackory Burns ’18. Burns was named the 2016 M. Katherine Baird Darmer Equality Scholarship winner at the OC Lavender Bar Association 6th Anniversary Party on July 13. The annual scholarship is named after the late Chapman Law Professor Darmer, a passionate advocate for LGBT equality, and is given to students who share her vision of a just society and a progressive Orange County. 
  • Vanessa Gomez '18 received a scholarship from the Mexican American Bar Foundation and was named the Comcast/NBCUniversal/Telemundo Entertainment Law Scholar. She also received the State Bar of California's Wiley W. Manuel Certificate for Pro Bono Legal Services.
  • Emma Gunderson ’18. Gunderson was awarded the Orange County Lavender Bar Association’s 2015 M. Katherine Baird Darmer Equality Scholarship and is the third UCI Law student to receive the scholarship since it was established in 2013. Named after the late Chapman Law Professor Darmer, a passionate advocate for LGBT equality, the scholarship is given to students who share her vision of a just society and a progressive Orange County.
  • Althea Omdahl ’18 received a California Bar Foundation 3L Diversity Scholarship for 2018. The scholarship is given to an underrepresented law student committed to a career in public interest and social justice, and who is studying to take the California Bar Exam.
  • Shunya Wade ’18. Wade received a California Bar Foundation Diversity Scholarship, which financially supports first-year California law students with the goal of furthering diversity in the legal profession. According to the foundation’s 2015 Diversity Scholars page, as the Klinedinst PC Scholar, Wade’s goals include continuing to empower people of color by bringing needed resources to underprivileged communities.
  • Robert Winson ’18. Winson attended the National LGBT Bar Association’s Annual Lavendar Law Conference in D.C. in August, and has been selected for a national mentorship program led by National LGBT Bar Association Board Member and former Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at Goldman Sachs, Bendita Cynthia Malakia.

CLASS OF 2017

  • Jiaxiao Zhang ’17. Zhang was awarded the inaugural Outstanding Student Scholarship from the Howard T. Markey Intellectual Property Inn of Court, an Orange County-based American Inn of Court focused on Intellectual Property Litigation, and dedicated to upholding the standards of the legal profession, practicing law with dignity and respect, and encouraging respect for our system of justice. Zhang applied to the organization and became a “Pupil” member in September 2015, on the recommendation of Professor Dan Burk. She has been active with the Markey Inn since then, helping plan and present a program on Ethics in IP with her Pupilage Group in February, which incorporated an interactive polling feature suggested by Zhang. The group, also comprising Associate, Barrister, and Master of the Bench members with over 20 years of experience, won “Most Outstanding Program of the Year 2015-2016,” and Zhang was named “Outstanding Student Member 2015-2016.”
  • Robin Gray ’17. An Equal Justice America Law Student Fellowship enabled Gray to work at Bet Tzedek Legal Services last summer. In a letter about her EJA Fellowship experience, Gray wrote: “I spent much of the summer working to help clients living in some of the most uninhabitable buildings in Los Angeles... One of our cases involved a building where the units consisted of mostly low-income families … living in a building with inadequate plumbing, vermin infestations … inadequate fire safety equipment, broken locks on the front door, and more. We were able to help the families finally leave these terrible conditions by getting them large settlement funds to aid with their relocation. Getting to participate in such a life-changing event for these families was truly one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”
  • Harvey Meza ’17. Meza has been awarded a Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund Law School Scholarship, given to law students committed to advancing the civil rights of the Latino community in the United States. Meza volunteers his time to assist detained indigent clients seeking asylum. Prior to law school, he interned at the Catalonia Department of Justice in Barcelona, Spain, where he conducted award-winning research on comparative mediation alternatives for alleged juvenile offenders.
  • Boanerges Rodriguez ’17. Rodriguez has been selected as a summer 2016 Employee Justice Fellow by the Foundation for Advocacy Inclusion and Resources. As part of this prestigious fellowship, Rodriguez will receive a supplemental stipend while working to advance workers' rights as a summer clerk at Weinberg Roger & Rosenfeld. He is one of only 13 students in California to receive this fellowship. He also received a scholarship from the Mexican American Bar Foundation, awarded annually to deserving law students based on their academic achievement, community service, leadership, financial need, and success in overcoming hardships. This year’s awardees were honored at MABF’s Annual Gala on June 11, 2016.
  • Ann Tran ’17. Tran received an AABA Law Student Summer Grant from the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area. Selection criteria include community service or public interest work for the Asian Pacific American (APA) community or other underrepresented communities; demonstrated leadership in the APA community; demonstrated financial need; and commitment to the Bay Area. Tran’s grant enabled her to work with the Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus.
  • Enid Zhou ’17. Zhou received the Dick Osumi Civil Rights and Public Interest Scholarship from the Japanese American Bar Association Educational Foundation. Mr. Osumi was a prominent civil rights and labor attorney who served as JABA President in 1992 and was a founding member of JABA’s Community Education Committee, and one of the founders of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. This scholarship is intended for those law students interested in practicing in the areas of civil rights, public interest law, and/or public policy. Zhou is an editor of UC Irvine Law Review, pro bono chair of APALSA, and publicity chair of the Public Interest Law Fund.

CLASS OF 2016

  • Nefi Acosta ’16. Acosta is the recipient of a 2015-16 MALDEF Law School Scholarship, granted to law students who will further MALDEF’s mission of advancing the civil rights of the Latino community in the United States. Acosta also received the California Bar Foundation 3L Diversity Scholarship co-sponsored by the Mexican American Bar Foundation. Designed to alleviate the costs associated with taking the California Bar Exam, 3L Diversity Scholarships provide a free BarBri review course (valued at $4,000) and a living stipend. In awarding stipends of up to $2,000, the MABF scholarship committee considers the applicant’s financial need, academic achievement, community service and leadership experience.
  • Ariela Rutkin-Becker ’16. Rutkin-Becker was selected to attend the most recent Osnabrück Summer Institute on the Cultural Study of the Law. Held at the University of Osnabrück in Germany, the Summer Institute brings together doctoral and postdoctoral students from various academic fields all over the world whose research interests rest at the intersection of law and humanities. “The incredible week-long workshop is a dream come true for any students interested in thinking about the law from an interdisciplinary perspective,” said Rutkin-Becker, one of just a handful U.S. students who attended the 2015 institute and the only J.D. candidate.
  • Aaron J. Benmark ’16. Benmark received the Paul Miller Scholarship Award from the Los Angeles Copyright Society, a members-only organization of attorneys who practice in copyright, trademark, communications and related areas. The scholarship is given to outstanding students in copyright and entertainment law.
  • Michelle Chung ’16. Chung received the 2016 Outstanding Student Award from the Orange County Asian American Bar Association (OCAABA). The $500 award is given annually to a law student who has made significant contributions to the OCAABA and the Orange County legal and general community.
  • Tawny Do ’16. Do is the recipient of a July 2016 Bar Stipend Award from the Orange County Women Lawyers Association. The award is offered twice a year to worthy law students about to take the bar exam. Awardees are chosen based on a connection to Orange County and a commitment to scholarship, community service, advancement of women or women’s issues and financial need. Do also received a California Bar Foundation 3L Diversity Scholarship co-sponsored by the OCAABA. Valued at $5,000, the scholarship provides a free BarBri prep course and a living stipend. It is awarded to a third-year law student who shows leadership and service commitment within and beyond the Asian Pacific American community; demonstrates academic and extracurricular excellence and achievement in law school; and intends to practice in the legal profession in Orange County.
  • Sean Garcia-Leys '16 honored with Social Justice Attorney Award from Chicanos Unidos in September 2017. He also was honored in June 2018 by the ACLU of Southern California with the Equal Justice Award for his work with Urban Peace Institute. 
  • Tilman Heyer ’16. Heyer won the California State Bar Public Law Section Student Writing Competition with his article, “Santa Brought Measles: California’s 2014 Measles Outbreak and the Constitutionality of Mandates and Religious Exemptions,” published in the fall 2015 edition of Public Law Journal as part of his award. Submitted essays are judged by the executive committee of the Public Law Section based on the quality of writing, complexity of topic, timelessness of topic to current developments in public law, originality, compliance with contest rules, and the relevancy to one or more of public law. Heyer also won a cash prize and an all-expense paid trip to the 2016 State Bar Annual Meeting.
  • Nick James ’16, Stephanie Johnson ’16. The team of James and Johnson won first place at UCI Law's 2016 Ballard Spahr LLP Mock Trial competition, which featured a criminal murder case. U.S. District Court Judge Josephine Staton presided over the trial.
  • Josh Ji '16, appointed to OC ethics commission – Voice of OC
  • UCI Law alumnus Josh Ji ’16 was named president elect of the OC Korean American Bar Association for 2018-19. He will serve as president the following year.
  • Shirley Kim ’16, Zoe McKinney ’16. Kim and McKinney were part of the UCI Law team that advanced to the Pacific Region quarterfinal round of the 2016 Jessup International Moot Court Competition. The team also received special recognition for their brief.
  • The article was published in the Oxford Journal of International Economic Law.
  • Shirley B. Kim '16 was appointed to the California State Board of Pharmacy by Gov. Brown in 2018.
  • Vinhcent Le ’16. The article “Can Informal Law Discipline Subsidies?” co-authored by Le, UCI Law Prof. Gregory Shaffer and Queen’s University Prof. Robert Wolfe, won the Oxford Journal of International Economic Law’s inaugural John Jackson Prize.
  • Lawrence Liu ’16. Liu won the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Law Foundation Scholarship. In addition to his activities with UCI Law's Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, Liu co-founded the Business Law Society, which aims to provide leadership training and networking opportunities for law students.
  • Ricardo Lopez ’16. Lopez is the recipient of a 2015-16 MALDEF Law School Scholarship, granted to law students who will further MALDEF’s mission of advancing the civil rights of the Latino community in the United States. Earlier, an article by Lopez proposing specialized health care courts was a winner in the The National Law Review May 2016 student writing competition. “Terminally Ill Minors and the Right to Refuse Life-Sustaining Medical Treatment” by Lopez was also selected for a $500 honorable mention prize by the Beverly Hills Bar Association in its 7th Annual Rule of Law Competition. Lopez wrote “Terminally Ill Minors” under the guidance and supervision of Prof. Michele Goodwin. Lopez also took top place in the annual Greenhalgh National Writing Competition sponsored by the ABA Criminal Justice Section, for his paper “An Impenetrable Shield: How the Supreme Court’s Reformulation of the Qualified Immunity Doctrine Undermine Constitutional Rights.” He is also among the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association’s 2016 Wally Davis Scholarship recipients. The scholarship provides financial assistance to Orange County Latino students currently enrolled in law school, who have demonstrated involvement in the Latino community. It was named in honor of the late Wallace (Wally) R. Davis, one of the first Hispanic attorneys in Orange County and co-founder of the HBA. A team that includes Lopez, Samantha Rodriguez ’16 and Eric Vera ’16 also won Best Petitioners Brief in the National Latino/a Law Students Association Moot Court competition held October 2015 in Chicago.
  • Lauren Mendelsohn ’16. Mendelsohn was elected Chair of the Board of Directors for Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP); the board represents SSDP's chapters at the national level. Mendehlson is the founder and past president of Law Students for Sensible Drug Policy at UCI.
  • Kellye Ng-McCullough ’16. Ng-McCullough won Student of the Year at the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPALSA) Convention held November 2015 in New Orleans. She serves as the Pacific South Regional Director for NAPALSA and has dedicated numerous hours of pro bono work to become involved in political and legal processes to create much needed protections for Asian Pacific Americans.
  • Bree Oswald ’16. Oswald has been awarded a Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Bar Association Scholarship for law students. Awardees received paid registration to the Association’s 13th Judicial Conference in Washington, D.C., a sold-out event that featured presentations from notable authorities in the field of veterans law.

CLASS OF 2014

CLASS OF 2012