"I am grateful to Equal Justice America for the opportunity to pursue holistic advocacy and leverage direct representation experience to increase safeguards for transition-age youth."
I grew passionate about youth advocacy while living in Beirut, Lebanon, where I got to know several children working to support their families. These children could not count on a legal system strong enough to counter-balance racial, economic, and security concerns. When I moved back to start at Berkeley Law a couple of years later, I saw a comparable lack of protection for young people in the United States.
Through law school, I had the opportunity to engage in juvenile justice work through internships, pro bono projects, and clinics. As the education rights holder of a student in the foster care system, I witnessed the system’s harmful tendency to treat children, and especially children of color, as adults. In the hope of offsetting that reality, I pushed for more comprehensive individualized education programs and creative professional paths, and ensured that my student was protected by California’s AB 12 to guarantee the positive impact of foster care benefits on his educational outcomes. As an intern both in EBCLC’s Education, Defense & Justice for Youth (“EDJY”) clinic and in the San Francisco County Public Defender’s Office, I worked to challenge the inherent racial disparities in our justice system by learning to tell the story of each client’s unique family history, trauma, educational needs, and goals in every court proceeding, manifestation determination review, and expulsion hearing. In parallel, witnessing young people’s vulnerabilities first-hand motivated me to identify alternative policies to protect their rights. As a research assistant for Professor Ty Alper, I worked to increase equity in educational opportunities for all students through research on racial disparities in K-12 exclusionary discipline and on the impact of disciplinary records on college applications.
EDJY shaped my experience at Berkeley Law and I could not be more excited for the opportunity to be a part of the team for the next two years as an Equal Justice America Fellow. I am eager to share my passion and commitment with similarly motivated law students in the Clinical Program. EDJY gave me the opportunity to advocate wholeheartedly for youth caught at the intersection of the juvenile justice and education systems. I am grateful to Equal Justice America for the opportunity to pursue holistic advocacy and leverage direct representation experience to increase safeguards for transition-age youth.