Natalia DaSilva, 2L
As a USC undergraduate, Natalia DaSilva spent a significant amount of her education seeking out opportunities to explore foreign cultures and practice cross-cultural communication including studying in Italy, France and Morocco. Natalia also held a position as lead researcher for the USC Archaeology Lab on a conservation project.
Natalia is not only academically interested, but also personally connected to the objectives pursued by the International Human Rights Clinic. In her own family, Natalia has seen the positive effect of granting refugees asylum first-hand. This experience drives her to assist others who are attempting to legally gain documented status within the United States. She is interested in working with trafficking victims and utilizing the skills she has learned in law school to improve the lives of others. She is also interested in working with international criminal tribunals and learning how justice and enforcement of sentences works across borders.
“I cannot undo a survivor’s experiences, but I can do my best to be their best advocate.”
Since attending law school, Natalia has externed for the Hardcore Gangs Division at the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. Conversant in several languages, she has worked to attain a skill set that will make her an effective and successful international lawyer.
Ashley De Vance, 2L
Ashley De Vance’s deep understanding of social justice issues stems from her time as an educator. Ashley has a Master’s degree in education from UCLA and spent three years working as a social studies teacher at charter school South Los Angeles Youthbuild, where she taught U.S. History, U.S. Government and Community Leadership to high school students. There, she worked to advocate for students and taught her curriculum through a social justice lens.
However, her advocacy was not limited to the classroom. She worked with community organizers, such as the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, and attorneys to combat racial, gender and class disparities by assembling workshops about political efficacy and grassroots work, encouraging youth involvement, knowledge about civil rights, food justice and sexual assault awareness.
“I cannot change the privilege that I have, but I can choose what to do with it. I made the decision to go to law school because I want to eradicate institutional barriers to achieving equality and justice, not just domestically, but internationally.”
Since attending Gould School of Law, Ashley has served her school community through her participation with the International Refugee Assistance Project, as community service chair for the Black Law Students Association, as a board member with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), and as a Peer Mentor. She has also volunteered in the NLG Skid Row Citation Clinic where she participated in client intake and the ticket expungement process. Ashley hopes to facilitate global change as a lawyer; to be a fierce advocate for her clients, engage in cross-cultural lawyering, and apply her knowledge of international law. Her ultimate goal is to be a global citizen, using her power to impact the world.
Neusha Etemad, 2L
Neusha Etemad is a first-generation American who has learned about the struggles of immigrating to the U.S. first-hand. Her worldview was significantly shaped early on by witnessing the challenges faced by her parents to learn English and navigate American culture while working to obtain a college education and find employment. This perspective led her to become concerned about what could be done through law to assist large numbers of individuals fleeing persecution and facing discrimination because they belong to certain racial groups. As a result, she began to work as a translator for the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project.
During her time with CARA, Neusha worked with women and children from Central America who were detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. She translated their stories, consoled them and assisted their attorneys. By translating their stories, Neusha gave these women the power of communication and in turn, got to see these women get released from their detention.
This experience strengthened Neusha’s commitment to public service, which she has maintained in law school. As a part of USC Gould’s Legal Aid Alternative Break, she has worked with low income residents fighting unlawful detainers and with an environmental non-profit in hopes of mitigating pollution in the Mississippi River.
“Although I have never experienced the kind of trauma these detained women fleeing from Central America did, I felt that I could connect with them because of my personal experiences and passion for the issues they were facing.”
Since starting at USC Gould, Neusha has participated and holds executive board positions in Legal Aid Alternative Break (LAAB) and the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF). All these experiences have culminated in Neusha’s involvement in the Human Rights Clinic where she will continue to pursue her passion for human rights advocacy work.
Rachel Feldman, 2L
Rachel Feldman has professional experience participating in dialogues concerning human rights issues. As an assistant to the Vice President at the Salzburg Global Seminar, Rachel worked to bring Holocaust education initiatives to countries outside of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. She also helped to design a leadership training course in Austria for university students focused on global responsibility as part of the Seminar’s Global Citizenship Program.
“I feel it is my personal responsibility to pay forward the opportunities I have as a result of my grandparents’ survival, by working in the human rights field.”
Rachel’s participation in these programs was driven by both a sense of community and personal responsibility. Both of Rachel’s maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors. As a result, she is particularly passionate about studying and eradicating commission of genocide, and advocating that perpetrators face judicial prosecution for their crimes.
Since attending USC Gould, Rachel has advocated for refugees as part of the International Refugee Assistance Project and participated in the Jewish Graduate Student Initiative.
Caroline Monroy, 2L
Caroline Monroy first became interested in human rights and international criminal law while studying Global Politics at UCLA. As an undergraduate, she took several courses in Latin American politics, which included deep discussions regarding human rights violations and atrocities committed in the region. She was most concerned with the fact that while some regimes were ephemeral, the consequences of corrupt state power was long-lasting.
Caroline would later spend a year abroad in Brazil where she studied International Human Rights, Brazilian history and politics. Engaging with the subject matter within the host state made clear to Caroline that change is possible, but progress can only be made with state oversight and collaborative multilateral efforts.
“I simply want to help hold violators of human rights accountable within the legal system. I know that giving voice and legal support to victims is important and that the number of those injured is daunting. It is my hope that I may support accountability for past crimes so that there will be fewer human rights violations in the future.”
Caroline also demonstrated her interest in public service in the years prior to law school. She interned with the Department of State’s Consulate General in Recife, Brazil, where she focused on economic development and public diplomacy. She also volunteered in her community through the Altadena Library’s Adult Literacy Program where she helped native Spanish speakers learn to read and write in English.
Since attending USC, Caroline has held positions with the Latino Law Students Association and the Southern California Law Review.
Gaganjyot Sandhu, 2L
Gaganjyot Sandhu came to law school to utilize her legal education to serve those who may not otherwise be able acquire legal assistance.
Prior to attending law school, Gaganjyot worked as a research assistant for the psychology department at Chapman University, where she studied and published research relating to the interplay of Western social norms and the perceptions of White and Asian American women. This research process led her to refocus and approach her academic studies from a more cross-cultural perspective.
Her adoption of a cross-cultural approach is also the result of her academic and personal explorations overseas. Gaganjyot has traveled to Ghana with Global Medical Brigades to work with local communities that had limited access to healthcare. There, she interviewed community members to assess their needs and to provide productive public health workshops.
“At its core, the law was designed to protect and serve the people.”
Since starting law school, Gaganjyot has begun using her legal knowledge for the public interest by volunteering with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’ Housing Clinic on Skid Row. There she met with clients to help assess appropriate legal remedies for their concerns. She has also volunteered with Legal Aid Alternative Break.
Matthew Saria, 2L
Matthew Saria has a deep interest in the promotion of global rule of law. He became interested in participating in the International Human Rights Clinic to help address human rights violations and ensure that justice is accessible in all parts of the world. However, Mathew’s interest in these concepts related to international global governance is not new.
Matthew’s interest began when he took a Global Justice course as an undergraduate student at Arizona State University. There he studied numerous global justice issues in various contexts such as transitional justice mechanisms that were adopted in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide and refugee experiences within the United States’ asylum process.
Matthew has also acquired notable research skills and techniques for exploring issues concerning international law and global crises. In 2014, he participated in a project unpacking the legal interplay between public health and international law. As a result, he conducted extensive research to monitor emergency responses and declarations by the World Health Organization and African countries.
“I am committed to working to address issues that plague our global society…it is my goal to use my legal education to promote social justice at the global level.”
Since starting law school, Matthew has advocated on behalf of refugees by researching and compiling positional briefs for various congressional representatives as part of the International Refugee Assistance Project’s Policy Team. Additionally, he has committed to serving his local community through his participation in the Public Interest Law Foundation.
Bettina Tiangco, 2L
Bettina Tiangco’s interest in international human rights began at age seven, when she first visited the Philippines. Upon visiting her parents’ home country, she witnessed children like her struggling with the realities of rampant poverty. Since then, she has often ruminated on what constitutes fundamental human rights. Her interest in human rights is reinforced every time she travels and confronts the serious human rights challenges people face in other countries. This interest eventually led Bettina to law school.
“I believe that my passion for human rights, cross-cultural insight, and experience strongly equip me to be a part of the Clinic. I want to continue to help those whose rights have been violated and uphold a basic international standard of human rights.”
While at Gould School of Law, Bettina has sought out opportunities to serve both the USC community and International Human Rights Clinic clients. Last year she worked as a Tagalog interpreter to assist the Clinic in obtaining justice for a human trafficking victim from the Philippines. She also spent the past summer assisting attorneys at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office as they prepared for trial.