Morgan Brock-Smith, 2L
Morgan’s interest in joining the International Human Rights Clinic stems from her experience working in domestic criminal law after college as a paralegal at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, in their Financial Frauds Bureau. There, her work varied from large investment schemes to small-scale scams. Morgan felt that, no matter the dollar amount, victims deserved some method of righting the wrong done to them.
During college, Morgan was enrolled at Université Paris Diderot in France, where she researched and wrote in French, including for her senior thesis concerning the legalization of abortion in France. She hopes her experience living and working abroad will lend itself well to international work.
“It was important to me that each victim had access to some method of righting the wrong done to them, and it was fulfilling to me to be part of a system that could offer that to them, despite its many limitations and flaws.”
Since starting at USC Gould, Morgan has been involved in the Public Interest Law Foundation, the Women’s Law Association, and the National Lawyer’s Guild. She has also interned at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, working on cases involving survivors of domestic violence.
Krisha Mae Cabrera, 3L
Born in the Philippines, Krisha also lived on the islands of Saipan and Guam before immigrating to California. While in the Philippines, she lived near to the slums. Her parents were overseas Filipino workers who struggled with the difficulties of working abroad to keep their family out of poverty. In witnessing not only her family’s experiences, but those impoverished in other countries, Krisha has always felt the persistent global need to address inequality.
Before law school, Krisha interned at the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, simultaneously volunteering as a teacher for scholars from the slums, an experience that exposed her to the devastation of poverty, to the abuses of the Duterte administration, and to the scourge of government corruption. There she also cemented her decision to study law in hopes of becoming a human rights lawyer.
“In seeking justice for ignored members of our global community through the International Human Rights Clinic, I can not only be a law student, but an advocate as well.”
Since starting at Gould, Krisha has worked as a law clerk for OneJustice, an organization that seeks to increase access to legal aid for marginalized populations. She has also worked with LBH Masyarakat in Indonesia, a human rights organization that advocates for issues involving death penalty abolition, drug policy, and the right to a fair trial, among others.
Shayna Jackson, 2L
Growing up in a neighborhood of immigrants, Shayna experienced early on how she could learn from a community whose cultures were different from her own. Along with experiencing the richness of her community’s cultures, Shayna also realized the darkness that came from ideologies that opposed or were apathetic to immigrants, and how easily humans could fall into such mindsets. Upon this realization, Shayna sought to do all she could to advocate for marginalized groups.
As a college student, Shayna took classes that expanded her understanding of oppressed communities around the world, especially in Muslim-majority countries. She began to look critically at colonialism and Western Feminism as she developed an understanding of America’s role in international human rights violations. Her coursework opened her eyes to injustice on a global scale. She also gained international experience studying abroad at the Universiteit van Amsterdam.
“Due to my past experiences with poverty, my exposure to my own immigrant-rich community, and my personal struggles with apathy, I understand the importance of advocating for oppressed communities.”
Since enrolling at Gould, she has volunteered with the International Refugee Assistance Project and plans on continuing to work with them in the coming years.
Nicholas Maisel, 2L
Nicholas has a long-standing academic and professional interest in international development and human rights. In 2010, he worked for a small sustainable development NGO in Madagascar, where he helped administer a monitoring and evaluations program. He then worked for the human rights department at UNAIDS in Geneva, helping with the production of shadow reports on the impact of laws criminalizing the transmission of HIV/AIDS and the status of groups most affected by the epidemic in Chad, Lesotho, and Cameroon.
“One of the motivating factors behind my decision to go back to law school was the possibility of revisiting advocacy for international human rights from a legal perspective.”
Prior to his work with the UN, Nicholas completed a Master’s program in Human Rights at the London School of Economics, where he wrote dissertations focused on the Alien Tort Statute and the regulation of private military corporations in war zones. He also volunteered with a local NGO focused on assisting survivors of torture with their asylum applications in the UK.
Since enrolling at Gould, Nicholas has externed for the Chambers of the Honorable John Kronstadt of the Central District of California. He has also been active with the International Law and Relations Organization and the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). As a 2L, he is now the president for IRAP.
Jesse Mentz, 2L
In 2011, while interning for International Justice Mission, an anti- trafficking agency, Jesse became convinced of the importance of effective prosecution in protecting the rights of the poor. Further influenced by his Christian faith in a God who cares about justice for the vulnerable, Jesse developed a strong personal desire to combat human trafficking. This desire inspired his work interning for the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking in 2012.
A triple Trojan, Jesse completed a B.A./M.A. program in International Relations at USC, during which time he studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh and interned in the Scottish Parliament. While there, he worked with a member of Parliament to assist an eventually successful movement to change the law concerning the death of Scots abroad.
“In my future legal career, I want to use the skills and opportunities I have been given to pursue justice on behalf of those who need it.”
Since starting law school, Jesse has interned at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California, where he wrote an introductory guide to obstruction of justice charges and assisted the Public Corruption, Major Frauds, and Violent and Organized Crime sections.
Mirelle Raza, 2L
Mirelle’s interest in international human rights first began through undergraduate coursework on human trafficking and sexual violence as well as a study abroad program that helped her gain exposure to international human rights movements in Croatia, Bosnia, and Italy. There, she volunteered in a home for trafficked and abused girls.
Through an internship with the Victim Services Unit of the Santa Clara District Attorney’s office, Mirelle found a passion for working with survivors of trauma. She went on to work at the San Francisco District Attorney’s office’s Child Abuse and Sexual Assault unit, serving as the sole advocate for the human trafficking unit. Through this role, Mirelle not only developed advocacy skills, but also built relationships with her clients that inspired her to attend law school and become an even stronger advocate. This year Mirelle is serving as the President of the Public Interest Law Foundation at Gould.
“A passion for service has been the cornerstone of my education and career from the beginning. It has led me to actively choose coursework, internships, trainings, and work experience that will enhance my ability to serve as the strongest advocate that I can be.”
In the summer before her 2L year, Mirelle worked in Washington D.C. with the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, focusing on the prosecution of child pornography, child exploitation, and sex tourism.
Sophie Sylla, 2L
Sophie Sylla grew up in New York. She graduated from Binghamton University in 2014 with a BA in English Rhetoric and Global Culture and a minor in Global Studies. As an undergraduate, she was a four-year NCAA Division 1 athlete on the women’s soccer team.
After graduating from Binghamton, Sophie was a Teach For America corps member in Phoenix, where she taught sixth grade in a dual-language program. She also earned her Master’s degree in Elementary Education. After spending two years in Arizona, Sophie moved back to New York where she advocated for education policy reform as a U.S. Policy and Advocacy Intern at Global Citizen. In addition to writing the veteran affairs and education policy sections of Global Citizen’s 2017 U.S. Policy and Advocacy playbook, she was the first person ever to write its racial justice section. In 2017, as a Fulbright Scholar in Durban, South Africa, Sophie sought to gain a global understanding of the impact of systemic racism on education. While in South Africa, she taught high school visual arts and partnered with a local nonprofit to provide educational opportunities to students.
“My experiences as an educator, both domestically and internationally reinforced my deep-seated desire to dedicate my life to fighting for equal education and racial justice.”
At Gould, Sophie has been an active member of the Public Interest Law Foundation and the Black Law Students Association. The summer before her 2L year, Sophie interned with the ACLU SoCal’s Education Equity and Juvenile Justice Team where she focused on arts justice.
David Wright, 2L
Born in Virginia and raised in Beijing, David attributes his global perspective to his bicultural heritage and experiences. Fluent in both English and Chinese, David previously worked with HNA Group Ltd, an international aviation conglomerate based in Haikou, China, working on responding to solicitors, translating legal documents, and heading conference calls to discuss legal strategy. As part of HNA Group’s International Talent Program, he also worked on an international case involving human rights, admiralty law, and criminal law issues.
With a strong interest in international matters, David’s senior thesis in undergrad at UCLA analyzed the effect of secondary pharmaceutical patents in developing nations and recommended solutions to the World Trade Organization. While at UCLA, he was also External Vice President for the Association of Chinese Americans, leading a 550-member organization.
“I believe I can assist the Clinic in its work and strongly desire to do so because working for the Clinic will give me insight into my career goals as a lawyer while allowing me to work on important human rights causes.”
Since starting his time at Gould, David externed for the Honorable Leslie E. Kobayashi at the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. There, he researched legal issues such as federal securities fraud and prepared Judge Kobayashi’s materials for civil and criminal hearings.