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9/7/2018 18:57:54Nicolas SawyerFall 2018
My interest in civil rights started from a very young age. I grew up volunteering for my father and stepmother’s nonprofit, called Hope for Miami, which serves primarily youth of color in South Florida. I first witnessed the impacts of mass incarceration on family members by working directly with these kids (many with incarcerated parents): from teaching them acting, to accompanying them when they visited their imprisoned parents, to interviewing them about their personal stories. In college, I drew from my linguistics background to do research on the disparity in demographic representation in Hollywood films by writing a program in Python that analyzes characters’ actions in screenplays (which I also love to write myself, by the way). After college, I worked for a political organizing coalition that fights for the rights of workers in Orlando. We represented groups like the City of Orlando bus drivers and Orange County teachers unions on issues like health care and pension negotiations. I’ve also worked as the program director for a scholarship that grants high-achieving, low-income students professional college admissions advisement from volunteer independent educational consultants.
In 2016, when I first moved to the Deep South, I was applying for a visual anthropology MA program. Armed with a DSLR and VideoMic Pro, I documented the local Black Lives Matter movement in North Carolina. But I was quickly drawn into civil rights work, and within a few weeks, I turned from an observer into a participant. Within four months, I found myself standing arm-in-arm in a crowd of activists during the Charlotte Uprising following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, surrounded by riot gear police and the National Guard demanding criminal justice reform. I remember chanting and marching past the towering Mecklenburg County Jail to see the longs rows of rectangular cell windows. Dozens of cell lights began to flicker. The inmates seemed to be telling us that they knew we were out there fighting for their rights. As a documentarian and organizer in Asheville and Charlotte, I worked deeply within anarchist circles to execute and document acts of civil disobedience, like police station sit-ins, demonstrations outside the homes of city officials, and road blockades. I not only learned that water-based sunscreen is preferable to oil-based sunscreen (it’s easier to clean out of your eyes), I decided I wanted to dedicate my life to concrete, practical approaches to criminal justice reform through law and advocacy insteading of pursuing visual anthropology.
At Texas Law, I hope to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to bring criminal justice reform to Texas and the South. This semester, I plan on participating in the Expunction Clinic as often as I can. In the following two years, I hope to take the Civil Rights Clinic and the Capital Defense Clinic in order to advocate on behalf of those incarcerated or those impacted by police misconduct. After graduating from Texas Law, I hope to draw from my research and legal background to secure a position working for an organization like the ACLU on impact litigation cases. Through my participation on the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights, I hope to gain skills in legal citation and writing that will not only help me towards my future goals as a legal researcher, but will help better the academic quality of literature coming out of this journal.
9/9/2018 20:58:56Eden KleinFall 2018edenkrizklein@utexas.edu9152270043NANA2020Growing up in a family riddled with abuse, mental health issues, and addiction, I
did not see the pretty side of life initially. But in the shadow of adversity, I grew a spirit
of advocacy because I needed to be there for my brothers and sister, of ambition because
I wanted to break the cycle of abuse and addiction, and of compassion because I had
sympathy for all who had experiences like mine or similar to mine. My childhood
experiences are the reasons why I want to work in public service and advocacy post-law
school and, really, the reason I went to law school in the first place.
For three years, I have been a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), where
I advocate for children’s rights every day. In this role, I am given the opportunity to help
a vulnerable group of people, and to make sure they are being treated fairly and without
abuse in all areas of their life (academic, mental, medical, legal, social, etc.). I have been
able to help three children be adopted, and only have one left on my case that is on the
hopeful road to adoption. This position has cemented my desire to advocate for all
vulnerable people. Doing this work in a border region also has led to me see first hand
how the legal system is set up to create barriers, not bridges, to success for people of
color – especially children of color. This must change, and there are many steps to get to that change.

Living and growing up in a border region, I also had the opportunity to work at a
non-profit devoted to serving the legal needs of low-income immigrants. At this nonprofit,
I worked predominantly with asylum cases, so I worked with many immigrants
from Central America. In addition to my work at this non-profit, I too have had my
interactions with the immigration system. When I was just 9 years old, my stepbrother
had his green card revoked at the border. From that time to now, I have only been able to
see him about four times. These experiences have additionally lit a fire inside of me to
help immigrants.

These are just mere examples of experiences I have had that have sparked
passions inside of me to help. Although I have specific areas of passion near and dear to
my heart, all vulnerable populations need help, and help is what I hope to give, during
law school and after. Working on the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Journal would give me an insight into the legal academia side of civil rights. I feel this
would be a valuable insight to have when I venture into the world after law school to
advocate for the most vulnerable populations. I would also offer the perspective of
someone who grew up in a border town, with a mixed cultural family, and with a variety
of background experiences. I have a strong personality, that is motivated, willing to work
hard, learn new things, help others, and rise to any challenge. It would be an opportunity I
am grateful for, and will not take lightly, if I am offered a position on the journal. Thank
9/11/2018 19:54:36Nat FineFall 2018nataliefine@utexas.edu30354815722020
My interest in civil liberties and civil rights stems from my experiences both during and prior to law school. Before I moved to Texas, I held several volunteer and paid positions that introduced me to criminal justice advocacy. As an undergrad, I was a writing tutor for men enrolled in college courses at a prison. After graduation, I was employed as a staff member of a reentry program based out of Rikers Island. Following that, I was a paralegal at the Innocence Project in New York. Each of these positions exposed me to the ways in which the legal system constrains the rights of those who have been arrested, even if they ultimately are never convicted. These jobs, and the injustices they showed me, motivated me to attend law school in order to become a public defender. As a student at UT, I am involved in the Expunction Project, the Capital Punishment Clinic, and Getting Radical in the South. This year I am working with the Mithoff Pro Bono program to implement a new student-run clinic providing case assistance to people who are coming up for parole in Texas. My involvement in these activities has enabled me to get out of the law-school bubble and gain actual client-centered experience. They have also shown me some of the particular civil rights concerns endemic to working in the South. During my 1L summer, I interned in the Salida office of the Colorado Public Defender; one of the most valuable cases I worked on centered around the sex offender registry and its harsh restrictions. I am interested in becoming a part of TJCLCR because it provides a platform for leading legal analysis of many of the issues I have come to care deeply about as I prepare for a career as a public defender. In addition to my interest in the articles published by TJCLCR, I look forward to being involved with its annual conference. Civil liberties and civil rights are entirely intertwined with contact with police, prisons, parole, probation, and the collateral consequences of convictions. Becoming part of the staff of TJCLCR will improve my legal writing and research skills, but more importantly, it will give me the opportunity to edit notes and articles by some of the leading voices in these fields. I look forward to being a part of this journal and helping to contribute to scholarship on civil liberties and civil rights.
9/9/2018 11:14:31Julia Wang Fall 2018
In eighth grade, my interest in social justice began when I read The Innocent Man by John Grisham. The book introduced me to the flaws of the U.S. justice system, and I learned that “guilty until proven innocent” was a reality. I became more interested in the disparate treatment of black minorities in the justice system and during my first year of college, I took a course titled The Politics of Black Identity. It opened my eyes to the harsh reality of institutionalized racism, and I knew I had to do my part to fight against it. Believing that failures in the education system were key factors in fueling the school-to-prison pipeline, I joined Teach for America and sought to find my role in working against the system as an educator. My goal was to empower my students with the knowledge of the same complexities of racial politics and injustices that I was deeply passionate about. I wanted my students to understand how the system was working against their favor and give them the confidence to believe they could fight against it. I realized my capacity as a high school teacher was not enough to right the wrongs of those currently persecuted, and that is why I left the profession for law school.

This past summer, I worked for Texas Fair Defense Project (TFDP), a non-profit legal organization that focuses on challenging modern-day debtor’s prisons and pushing for pretrial reforms through impact litigation, legislative advocacy, and education. During my internship, I researched whether claims could be made against other counties in Texas that were engaged in unconstitutional court practices. After witnessing questionable court proceedings, interviewing clients, and staying involved in TFDP’s litigation against Harris and Dallas County, low-income minorities are treated unfairly from the moment they are charged with an offense to their sentencing. Working at TFDP solidified the fact that it is crucial that low-income minorities receive quality representation.
9/12/2018 21:03:43Yang Guofall 2018
51291992783.41/spring 20182020
I am originally from China. Learning he legal theory of civil rights and help the democratization of China is the main reason I went to law school. When I was in college, I took courses in various areas to broaden my perspective and discovered that law courses were especially inspiring to me. After taking those courses, I realized that the law is an effective tool to uphold justice and change society and that the law should be equal to all. However, China already has a legal system; why is it not working as it should? This question continued to puzzle me for many years.
China has a civil law system and a constitution that stipulates jurisdiction independence and freedom of speech. However, everyone, from the senior government official to ordinary people, believes that laws are nothing but lengthy and useless doctrines and it is other hidden rules that actually control the country. Here is the deadlock troubling the Chinese legal system: because the laws do not uphold justice, people do not believe in laws; because people do not believe in laws, few people try to change the current situation, making the laws ineffective. I think the solution to this deadlock is telling people that our current legal system is not what it should be. If people realized that law could be a useful tool to uphold justice and make social change, they would rise and appeal for legal reform and give pressure to authority. When the idea of the rule of laws is rooted deeply in people’s hearts, we finally will become a democratic and liberalized country.
However, Rome is not built in one day. While achieving the final goal is attractive, it is no less important to solve the minor problems one by one. The totalitarian regime robbed people not only of their ability to live freely but also of the ability to understand fully what had been taken from them. By being a member of TJCLCR, I could learn the current issues on civil right theory and practice to obtain a broader knowledge on this area, to know what kind of right had been taken from our people, which will be important for my future career. I have relatively fewer credit hours to take at this semester, so I am interested to be an associate editor and do more challenging jobs.
9/12/2018 21:27:09Roxane BarberaFall 2018rbarbera@utexas.edu512-781-0380Undergrad GPA: 4.0N/A2021
The importance of understanding and enforcing people’s civil rights has been a constant theme throughout my life. I have not only worked but also instructed people in a wide range of diverse, challenging, and high-paced environments with people of all nationalities and cultural backgrounds. I also worked in male-dominated, adverse settings where I faced discrimination but overcame it and excelled. For these reasons, I believe I am a very strong and serious candidate for the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights.

From 2013 to 2014 I volunteered as a Kindergarten teacher at a bilingual school in Connecticut. During this year I worked with students not only on academic matters but also on civil rights matters. All the children suffered discrimination on a daily basis due to their race and/or culture. Thus, I worked on developing an environment where students could develop their second language skills while also maintaining a sense of pride and connection with their first language and culture. This environment, which encouraged cross-cultural awareness, proved to be extremely beneficial to the students both academically and personally.

From 2015 to 2016 I worked as a Cave Diving Instructor in Mexico. Cave diving is a male-dominated profession, with certification requirements meant to induce tremendous physical and mental stress. Due to my age and gender, I was constantly underestimated and belittled by male instructors. One instructor snidely remarked in front of my teammates, “You’re going diving with her? Good luck.” However, I not only excelled in meeting the requirements and managing my own stress, but also in working with my all-male team and helping those who struggled in the more demanding emergency situations. Furthermore, I actively worked with members of the cave diving community to spread awareness about gender discrimination within the profession. For example, I ran bi-weekly meetings where cave dive instructors were invited to share instances of gender discrimination he or she witnessed in the preceding weeks. I found this open forum highly effective in not only illuminating the serious mental repercussions caused by gender discrimination but also encouraging the community to increase awareness and actively work toward improving this widespread civil rights issue.

I want to pursue a legal career because I want to serve people and my community, and I believe lawyers can help people in powerful and meaningful ways. I think the law grounds nearly every aspect of people’s lives, yet to the majority of the population, the law is a foreign language thus making it entirely inaccessible. I hope to one day make the law more accessible to those in need by teaching people how to not only speak the language but also understand it so that they can use it for their own good. And, I believe working with the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights will provide me with an invaluable foundation in my pursuit of this goal. I am fiercely confident that if you take a chance on me I will be an extremely valuable asset to your team.

9/13/2018 22:40:46Sydney Keller Fall 2018
I am extremely passionate about helping others maintain their civil rights and fight against bigotry. I primarily focus on helping people with disabilities. I am a pro bono scholar for the Supported Decision-Making Clinic with INCLUDE. At these clinics, we teach people with disabilities and their families about alternatives to guardianship and ways to help people with disabilities gain more independence. When a person is put under a guardianship, she is stripped of all of her civil rights. A person with a guardianship can no longer vote, marry or drive. They can also no longer choose where they want to live or if they want to go to school or work. Stripping people of their civil rights is extremely problematic and unjust. Through the clinic, I educate the community about ways to help people with disabilities, while still maintaining their civil rights. At the clinic, we also execute supported decision-making agreements, medical powers of attorney, and durable powers of attorney. All three of these documents are viable less restrictive alternatives to guardianship. The supported decision-making agreement also helps prove to a judge that a person with a disability has the capacity to make his own decisions in case his capacity ever comes into question.
This summer I worked at Disability Rights Texas in the special education department. There I filed complaints against local school districts who were denying children their right to a free and appropriate public education and the necessary accommodations. I believe that every person deserves the opportunity to thrive, and supports and services should be provided to help people achieve their goals. Even though special education has progressed tremendously over the last few decades, there is still significant room for improvement. This summer I also worked on a research paper with my boss about implicit bias and racial discrimination in special education. Unfortunately, students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately punished in schools and in the criminal justice system. Students of color are often misdiagnosed in schools and thus they do not receive the supports and services that they need to thrive. I have included an excerpt from the paper as my writing sample.
In addition to helping people with disabilities, I am also passionate about helping the LBGTQ+ community and fighting for transgender people’s rights. I participated multiple times last year in the TNGMP/Gender Affirmation Project, and I highly enjoyed it.
I believe that I would make an excellent contribution to TJCLCR, and I am interested in being an associate editor.
9/14/2018 10:02:31Jess Hallamfall 2018
As kids are wont to do, I dreamt of becoming a lawyer at an early age. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but I did know that it was devastating to see my brother try to navigate the world after being incarcerated for a felony—free from prison, but shackled by his record to a permanent underclass, unable to participate in society or politics in any constructive way. I wanted to help people like him when I grew up. Though for a while I diverged from this childhood dream to toy with the sciences, my agitation with the way the world works never left. Fast forward to my senior year of college: I took a class at Yale Law School on the intersection of sexuality, gender, health and human rights, which focused heavily on civil rights in the U.S. Though cliché, it was life-changing. No other class I’d taken fired me up—intellectually or morally—the way this class did. I was both horrified by the true extent of regulatory control the government has over our bodies, and excited about the way law could be wielded to combat this. Against all odds, I had actual fun writing my term paper, which argued that an Alabama anti-obscenity statute banning the sale and purchase of sex toys violates civil liberties—and demonizes women’s sexual autonomy and non-heterosexual sex—via privacy infringement. After this class, there was no turning back.

I spent the last two years working at a boutique law firm in London with a busy discrimination practice in the U.S. My firm was small, so I was able to get my hands dirty drafting pleadings and motions on both sides of the Atlantic. I worked on religion and gender discrimination suits brought under Title VII and Title IX, and disability cases against universities under the ADA. Most of those cases will never make it to trial, but I was lucky to be staffed on one case that I’m anxious to keep tabs on: a discrimination suit against a British government adoption agency for rejecting applications from minority parents that has the potential to overturn U.K. adoption law as unconstitutional.

While I’ve been mostly entrenched in women’s rights and discrimination work, I’m particularly interested in the rights of incarcerated individuals (if I’m being honest, my interest is actually in razing the carceral state, but who’s to say), and hope to work to advance/protect those rights after law school. For the past few months, I’ve been working with Solitary Watch, a national watchdog on solitary confinement, tracking deaths in custody across the country and reporting on the abysmal conditions in some of the country’s worst jails. I’ve gotten a crash course in how we systematically enslave and impose by proxy the death penalty on our most vulnerable populations, and deny them even those few civil liberties they are, in theory, entitled to. This is all to say: I really love thinking/reading/writing about civil rights and civil liberties, and would love the opportunity to do so with TJCLCR. Finally, as a word nerd, I’m very interested in taking a role as an Associate Editor.
9/14/2018 12:22:36Kathryn E. GarzaFall 2018
512-557-40923.571/4.0Spring 20182020
I was born into a very politically-active family. My mother ran for elected office when she was 8 months pregnant with me and I grew up skipping school to hold up signs at polling places. I was taught at a very young age the importance of advocating for civil rights and as you will see from my resume I have continued to be active in politics and policy work.
My first real policy job was working for Texas State Representative Celia Israel. Working for a female Latina at the Texas House of Representatives, I got firsthand experience fighting for civil rights related issues, including voting rights, criminal justice, and labor and employment issues. I found the work meaningful and important. The topics that the Texas Journal of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights focus on are issues that I’ve cared about for years and have professional experience with. Pairing my personal interests with my want to hone my writing and editing skills, the Texas Journal of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights is the perfect place to learn and contribute. Additionally, if there is an increased opportunity to get hands on editing experience, such as an Associate Editor position, I'd be very interested in that as well.
9/14/2018 17:19:45Reid PillifantFall 2018
5124661518N/A - first semesterN/A - first semester2021
In the spring, I decided to leave New York City, after 10 years working as a journalist there, and move back to Texas to attend UT Law. It was a difficult decision, but my hope is to make a difference here in my home state, by pursuing public interest legal work.

Before I started in journalism, I worked at a nonprofit that focused on capital defense work in Harris County, where I developed an interest in the death penalty. I later worked for the defense attorneys on a federal capital case in California, and have pursued a long-running research project on the electric chair that I hope to one day turn into a book. As a reporter and editor, I covered politics for Politico, Slate, and others, including intensive coverage of public policy at both the state and national levels.

I’m interested in being involved with the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, because it combines my interest in writing and editing, with my interest in public interest work here in Texas. I’m eager to learn more about issues of civil rights and civil liberties, and I think my experience could be an asset to the journal. Thanks for your time in reviewing my application.
9/14/2018 18:32:45Laura BrighamFall 2018lqb2@utexas.edu60774411102021
My interest in civil liberties and civil rights began while I was in undergrad and took classes on gender inequities. From this, I developed a strong passion for women’s rights, especially those for lower income women. Many women in my extended family and my hometown are poor and lack access to basic resources in healthcare and education. Realizing how deeply this affected their lives, I joined the Roosevelt Institute, a public policy journal, and wrote on healthcare issues, gearing much of my focus towards women’s rights.

During my senior year of undergrad, I wanted to do more to find out how to pursue change for women in healthcare, and decided to take a course on civil disobedience. Previously, as a government major, I had always been hyper focused on policy solutions. But after going through dozens of templates of what the “right” way to protest was and their varying levels of effectiveness, as well as how to justify the practice of civil disobedience in the first place, I found myself seeing the change individuals can have when they unite. Through many of the movements we analyzed, civil rights and liberties were fought for and eventually won using a bottom up approach. From this, I have developed a strong interest in how to utilize different tactics of the people rather than the government in order to enact social change.

Overall, while I have not had much formal experience with civil rights and liberties, much of my education in undergrad focused on questions of inequity in gender and how to address those inequities through social movements, rather than waiting on policy to catch up. I also am extremely interested in the academic side of civil rights and liberties, particularly the many philosophical and moral justifications. While I am passionate about certain issues personally, there are still a lot I would like to be more informed on in the broad realm of civil rights and liberties. I enjoy nothing more than discussing these issues and learning more about them from others who are as interested in them as I am. For all these reasons, I would be excited to be a part of the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights.

9/14/2018 20:15:45Amy WheelerFall 2018
81748017773.882 UndergradNone- 1L2021
My passion for civil rights originated from my experiences and studies as an undergrad at TCU, as well as my volunteer experiences in Fort Worth. First, I studied political science and women and gender studies, which opened my eyes to the inherent political inequality within our country and, more specifically, the extent to which racial and gender discrimination still shapes our society and politics. I also learned about the selectivity of civil rights in our country today. In particular, I wrote a research paper on the criminalization of homelessness and how state laws and law enforcement efforts are violating the right to freedom of movement to those most vulnerable in our society.

Second, my time volunteering as a rape crisis counselor not only gave me experience working with victims of violent crime and with law enforcement, but also revealed how systems of poverty, sexism, and discrimination work together to impair the justice process for victims. I met with victims at the hospital during their rape exams, and noticed how many of the women who came in were poor, nonwhite, homeless, and had previous experience with the criminal justice system. Furthermore, I had several encounters with police officers who used these factors as a basis in which to blame them as victims and discount their stories. Most of the women I met with had no money for a lawyer, which was truly what inspired me to go to law school.

I am not entirely sure what I want to do after law school, but I know I will choose a career that allows me to fight for the rights of those most vulnerable in our society. This could be in the form of civil rights law, family law, or criminal law. During my time here at Texas Law, I plan to get involved with pro bono activities and the immigration pro bono trip in January. I believe that I can serve as a valuable edition to the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights editing team with my personal experiences, eagerness to learn, and passion for writing and research. Thank you.
9/14/2018 20:38:21Neha SinghFall 2018
I've always been passionate about reproductive justice, and I'd love to continue working to ensure that women have the freedom to have kids whenever they want. To this end, I have attended the Religious Freedom in Action (RFIA) Conference, put on by the ACLU, for the past two years. It's simultaneously one of the most empowering and infuriating experiences I've had. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many people all working towards the same goal, but it was frustrating to see how much we were up against, and how determined others were to keep us down. I remember a doctor speaking at the conference broke into tears, because he wasn't able to treat his patients. He couldn't keep the Hippocratic Oath. I was shocked and saddened. I knew that it was difficult for women to get the care they needed, but I never thought about the kind of toll it would take on doctors.

At the end of the conference, we were given several tools that attendees could use to advocate for reproductive freedom and justice, and one of the most powerful tools was simply talking about it. Ensuring that people are well-informed, and that opponents truly understand what they are advocating against, is an incredibly powerful and effective step. I was able to learn how to discuss these issues with opponents without being hostile, and in the end, that's a more productive dialogue for everyone involved. I want to continue growing, learning, and having these conversations with people, so I'm applying to be part of the Steering Committee for RFIA 2019. Members of the Steering Committee help plan the logistics of the event, as well as gather interest and attendees for the conference. When I graduate, my dream job would be to work for the Center for Reproductive Rights in DC, to further hone and utilize my advocacy skills.

I have also served as the Committee Chair of It's On Us: Campaign to End Sexual Assault committee, while serving as a Senator for the Student Government at UT Dallas. I worked extensively with my team to inform students of the Title IX policy, as well as the meaning of consent. It was surprising to me how many students just didn't know what constituted sexual assault, and I was incredibly grateful that we had put together this committee. It's easy to assume every one knows, but I learned so much about people from just talking to them, it was humbling. I've really grown during and after this event, and I'm so proud of myself and all the work I've put in to potentially help others in whatever way I can.

9/14/2018 21:14:43Elizabeth HamiltonFall 2018
(210) 887-60172021
My interest in civil rights predates my knowledge of what the words civil rights mean. At the age of four I informed my parents that I wanted to be a lawyer so that I could help people who weren’t treated fairly. As my vocabulary grew I learned that the work to end injustice and inequality occurs in the area of civil rights. I spent my first career working to support myself through my undergraduate studies and I am now at long last beginning my work to become an attorney. I hope to practice in the public interest sector in the future, focusing on human rights and civil rights.

As a Native American woman, I have a particular interest in the challenges that face my community. As part of my undergraduate studies I completed an honors thesis focused on the role that jurisdictional complexities play in exacerbating the problem of violence against Native American women. My initial concern spawned from the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women in North America and the seeming failure of the justice system to address the problem. I learned through the course of my research that Native American women are subjected to a higher rate of violence in general, specifically sexual violence when compared to women of other ethnicities. The research indicated that Native women are more likely on average to report being the victim of violent crime. While one might expect a higher rate of crime combined with a higher rate of reporting would result in a higher rate of prosecution, this is not the case. My thesis focused on jurisdictional challenges, however there were other disturbing patterns found in my research. Law enforcement can be slow to respond and often act based on ethnic stereotypes. In the few cases which do go to trial there is evidence of prejudice within juries. These issues compound one another and leave many victims feeling as though they may somehow deserve the violence they have experienced. This feeling of discouragement spreads through communities.

I have lived my life looking forward to the day that I could use the tools available to attorneys in the furtherance of equality and justice. As I gained a deeper understanding of the extent of the problems facing my own community this resolve has only deepened. I feel that today it is as important as at any time in our history that we shine a light on inequality and injustice. When I graduate from Texas Law I will be able to make this work my career, but I am not content to wait. I feel that I can take action now, during my time at Texas Law, through pro bono work and by working as a staff editor with the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights.
9/14/2018 21:26:52Molli MorrisonFall 2018
903 880 28483.513.512020
In college I was involved with the local food bank that gave low-income children breakfast and dinner seven days a week. I had no idea before my work with the food bank that a substantial amount of children in the county were only receiving meals at school. We would prepare meal boxes and distribute them to multiple school districts in the area.The work helped put into perspective how disproportionate certain groups of the population live and how crucial it is for them to receive help from others.

In addition, I grew up in a small East Texas town where the idea that women should strive to stay at home and care for their families is still prevalent. In fact, a large portion of the women in my graduating class are already married with children. I want to do my part in helping women like the ones I know and care about to do what they want in life, whether that be caring for a family or not. Regardless of what practice area I decide to go into after law school, I plan on continuing pro bono activities and advocating for Civil Rights.
9/14/2018 21:53:14
Miatta Chinwe Echetebu
fall 2018
Prior to law school, I earned a master’s degree in Clinical-Community Psychology and cultivated a career focus on civil rights matters at the intersection of psychology and the law. Perhaps my most extensive involvement in civil rights work was my participation on the ACCESS Initiative Evaluation Team. The ACCESS Initiative is a SAMHSA-funded system of care in Champaign County, Illinois focused on reducing racial disparities in behavioral health services for African Americans. I held multiple roles on this team, including collecting, analyzing, and interpreting racial data from systems such as juvenile justice and community mental health, reporting that data back to the systems, and proposing solutions for systems change efforts to reduce racial disparities and injustice. I managed and disseminated data comparing youths’ trajectories through systems by race as well as data measuring racial attitudes of staff and administrators across systems.
Beyond evaluation and reporting, I have additionally had direct experience advocating for the rights and fair treatment of oppressed populations. I developed a youth participatory action research (YPAR) project in a predominantly African American neighborhood that had been marked for redevelopment by the City of Champaign. With youth voice having been nearly absent from the redevelopment planning process, I identified, trained, advocated for, and partnered with neighborhood teens to study and develop effective avenues for political participation among youth. When we saw that the City’s attempts at distributing traditional adult-designed home surveys were not reaching youth, together we planned and organized a neighborhood basketball tournament and talent show, during which we gave youth-designed surveys and youth-led focus groups. We actively engaged the City of Champaign Neighborhood Services Department in our project. My youth partners and I presented our findings together to City Council, and the feedback was incorporated into the redevelopment plan. As a result of this work, two of my youth partners became the first youth appointed to the neighborhood steering committee, and all were awarded by the City for their leadership.
With this foundation in research and practice, I’ve furthermore had incredible opportunities to teach on civil rights issues. I’ve been invited to guest lecture on mass incarceration and African American community health to two undergraduate courses. I additionally spent a year as the instructor and program coordinator of an intensive service learning course for undergraduates at the University of Illinois, called the Community Advocacy Project (CAP). I was responsible for training and supervising the students as advocates for survivors in the community of domestic violence and/or sexual assault. During training, I taught about cultural competence, social justice, and the client-centered model of advocacy. Our clients were disproportionately African American and low-income women, and our goal was to increase their safety and access to opportunities they wished to pursue through connecting them to an array of services and working to make those services more responsive to their needs. These included legal services, healthcare, housing, education, employment, financial services, and many others. These experiences are only a few examples reflecting my immense lifelong passion for civil rights work and my goal in a legal career of improving outcomes and increasing access to opportunities for marginalized groups. I have already begun to seek out relevant opportunities in my first semester of law school. For example, I was recently trained to participate in the upcoming expunction pro bono project. I feel strongly that the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights is a strong fit for my interests, experiences, and goals, and I am very interested in being considered for a leadership role on this journal.
9/14/2018 22:16:42Brett MeleFall 2018brett.mele@gmail.com51292268203.742020
Statement of Interest

My study of civil rights and civil liberties began in earnest as a political science major in college. Throughout my course of study, I took various courses that focused on voter disenfranchisement and civil rights. As my interests became more specialized, a majority of my coursework focused on civil rights under totalitarian regimes and after regime change. In addition to my courses, I spent a semester studying abroad in the Czech Republic doing research on how women’s rights were affected during Soviet rule and in the years following the USSR’s dissolution. This research opened my eyes to continuing injustices in both totalitarian and democratic regimes alike. It drew my attention to how insidious societal prejudices may take different legal forms in different governments, but such prejudices will persist if the fight against injustice is inconstant. These lessons informed my decision to pursue a legal education as a means of fighting flaws in our legal system that allow oppression to continue.
During my first year of law school, I have been grateful for opportunities to participate in various pro bono projects that have aided others in asserting their rights. Helping trans and genderfluid individuals update their Texas identification documents to reflect their true identities through the Trans Name and Gender Market Project has been a rewarding way to use some of the training I have received in law school.
My desire to continue learning about and contributing to civil rights law has only been enhanced by my time at law school. I believe that a legal education cannot be complete without studying how our system of laws enables repression and how that system could be reformed to achieve better ends. I am interested in joining the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights because I would like to contribute in part to a publication that promotes the advancement of civil rights and equality.
9/14/2018 23:13:37Jun H. KangFall 2018jk43974@utexas.edu51236497463.363.362020
To The Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights (TJCLCR) members,
My name is Jun Kang. I am a rising 2L student. I was not interested in participating in journal when there was a write-on this summer. Yet, I am now writing an application to The Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights (TJCLCR) because I changed my mind after I wrote a 2-credit research paper with Professor Mechele Dickerson this summer.
The research paper was about the recent Epic System v. Lewis case, which decided that employee may agree to an individualized arbitration free from labor unions intervention and such waiver of class arbitration is an enforceable contract. Writing a research paper provided me two important insights about myself. First, I realized that I like writing a research paper on a legal issue, and if I wish to continue writing papers until the end of law school, I must receive some training on legal citations and read more writings from professional scholars. I received credit for my research work this summer, yet I am improving my research paper by adding another proposal section because I am looking forward to submitting the research paper for publication. Second, I became interested in in the labor organization and collective bargaining, which is one of the main topics dealt in TJCLCR. Although the central theme in Epic System v. Lewis was enforceability and cope of arbitration agreements, it is also about National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) because enforcing class-arbitration waiver would effectively deter collective bargaining between labor union and employers. Lastly, I decided to apply to this journal in particular because I am an international student. Due to my limited understanding of U.S society in general, I feel somewhat detached from current civil rights issues in U.S. I believe participation to the journal will help me keep track of the currently debated Civil Rights and Liberty issues.
For this summer, I worked at the Judge Lora J. Livingston as a legal intern. I am planning to work in private sector after graduation. Hence, I am planning to engage in more public-side work while I am attending law school because such opportunities will be less available after graduating law school. Because this Journal, by its nature, will attract more talents interested in public work, I would like to connect and network with students with strong interest in public work.

Thank You.
Jun Kang
9/13/2018 13:17:03Claire KimutisFall 2018ckimutis@gmail.com281-745-00602020
My parents taught me at a very young age that everyone was equal—girls could do anything boys could do, no race was any different than another. As I grew up, it astounded me to learn that not everyone thought this way. It bewildered me to learn that some people thought girls were not as smart as boys, or that the color of someone’s skin somehow affected who that person was underneath it. It outraged me at a young age, and it continues to do so to this day.

As an undergraduate, I interned for Mission Waco Legal Services, a legal aid office composed of a single attorney servicing the impoverished community in Waco, Texas. Prior to this experience, I had never personally witnessed individuals struggle for things that I took for granted. Families were facing illegal evictions from their homes—evictions they could not afford to fight. Custody battles weren’t being fought over weekend visitation of children, they were being fought for benefits from the government that one parent would lose if the other, more deserving parent was granted custody. Women were trying desperately to force fathers to support their children. I was aware of the abstract idea of human suffering and fighting for one’s rights, but it was not until my time interning for one nonprofit attorney that I actually felt the power of that the law had in acting as a tool for those suffering to see justice.

At the same time, I was the vice president of philanthropy of my sorority, where I found a passion advocating] for domestic violence survivors and spreading awareness. It was heartbreaking hearing so many stories from women at the Waco Family Abuse Center about the struggles they were going through even after finding the strength to leave their abusers. There were many stories of police inaction, failure from the system, and a cycle of ineptitude that led some to ultimately go back into the cycle of abuse. I was moved by these stories and the injustice faced by these women in a system which did not seem to do enough for them.

These experiences solidified my goal of going to law school to help others in some way. In law school, I participated in the Psychiatric Advanced Directive Clinic, which was by far my favorite experience of my 1L year. It was powerful to be a part of the clinic from the beginning. I learned so much from individuals in the mental health community with lived experience, individuals who have been through a psychiatric hospitalization. Learning about the horrifying experience of being held against your will, while having no say with what goes into your body when you are the only person who can explain what the powerful psychotropic drugs are making you feel, moved me. It was powerful to be a part of the clinic, assisting individuals in drafting a legal document that might be able to be a voice for them when they are in a situation when they cannot use their own. It was powerful to see the potential effect of a legal document. It is exciting to look forward in my legal career and hope for more powerful moments like this, where I use the resources I have to help those in need.
9/16/2018 15:39:44Savannah KumarFall 2016
(512) 406-19172020
My experience in and passion for civil rights and civil liberties began prior to starting law school and continued during law school. In college, my senior thesis explored states of emergency in conflict zones and how rights are implicated during emergencies. Prior to attending law school, I worked on prisoner's rights issues at San Quentin Prison in California and collaborated with social workers in Mumbai, India to address rights issues facing infants born in prisons and children raised in prisons. During my 1L year, I co-founded the Law and Justice Discussion Group, which provided a space for students to discuss social issues and their rights implications. I also displayed an exhibition during the East Austin Studio Tour on solitary confinement and the rights violations that commonly occur in jails and prisons.

The summer after my 1L year, I served as a law clerk at the ACLU of Texas in Houston. Some of the issues I worked on included: a bail reform case in Galveston County that challenged discriminatory, wealth-based jailing practices; research on voting rights violations in Texas; and research on the conditions of immigration detention centers. For the second half of the summer, I worked with the Center for Court Innovation to research the impacts of collateral consequences of criminal convictions and how they affect people's civil rights.

I am currently serving as a fall law clerk at the Texas Civil Rights Project. In addition, as a programming director for GRITS, I've designed a program that focuses on the challenges that accompany defending civil rights and liberties in the South. I also serve as a Mithoff Pro Bono Scholar for the Street Law Program where I teach high schoolers about equal protection and other constitutional issues. In addition, I am a constitutional law research assistant for Professor Sanford Levinson with whom I perform research on the structural components of the constitution. As an RA, I have spent time familiarizing myself with constitutional issues in legal academia and am well-prepared to contribute to TJCLR.
I believe that defending civil rights and liberties involves deeply understanding the issues that communities face. As such, I serve on the board of directors of the local non-profits: the Amala Foundation (which serves immigrant and refugee youth) and Truth Be Told (which serves women incarcerated in Central Texas). I am a Public Service Scholar and member of the Justice Center Student Advisory Board.

I am interested in taking a mid-tier role such as an "Associate Editor" on TJCLR.
vegan, but if no one else is vegan, don't stress about accommodating it!
9/16/2018 16:29:26Sarah FernandezFall 2018
91783774933.01Spring 20182020
After completing my undergraduate degree, I went on to work as an Intake Interviewer at a therapeutic alternative to incarceration program in New York City called Esperanza NY, Inc. This role required that I work in court on a daily basis. It was my responsibility to conduct bilingual interviews with children and families in detention centers, homes, and anywhere else necessary to improve each young person’s chance of a speedy release. I also provided acceptances and updates about my clients’ progress to the court. Over time, I became Esperanza’s predominant testifier in Family Court. I was responsible for writing letters to the courts, familiarizing myself with my clients’ legal, personal and educational histories, and reviewing evidence. I was constantly faced with the inequities in our criminal justice system and their impact on the young men of color who participated in the program. Ultimately, I was forced to conclude that incarceration cannot be divorced from systemic racism. Moreover, that abolishing prisons is a prerequisite to protecting the civil rights and civil liberties of people of color in this country.

I feel committed and ethically obligated to doing as much pro bono as possible in law school. In January of 2018, I participated in Pro Bono in January and volunteered with ProBAR to assist asylum seekers in completing their applications. Throughout my first year of school, I translated for the domestic violence clinic and worked on Special Education casework projects. In all of these roles, I interacted substantially with clients. I also had the opportunity to work as a research assistant for Professor Susan Klein, researching the progression of rape and sexual assault law in Texas since the 1970s. This year, I will be working as a family law fellow with Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas.

I spent the summer after my 1L year interning for Justice Steven González on the Washington State Supreme Court. In this position, I had the opportunity to present Justice González with my recommendations on several cases, both in person and in writing, some of which he adopted. I practiced oral advocacy in front of Justice González and his clerks, and had the opportunity to observe several oral arguments in person. I wrote memos distributed to the other eight Justices, and received feedback from his law clerks throughout. I also edited citations and copyedited throughout the summer. Finally, after gaining confidence in my work, Justice González asked me to draft a concurrence on his behalf. After careful consideration and review, he chose to adopt this concurrence.
Gluten free
2/8/2019 11:09:42Dominic Gattusospring 2019d_gattuso@utexas.edu847-757-59993.78fall 20182021
My interest in civil rights law began in high school, when I joined the ACLU club. Despite having the minimum amount of members for a club (after a liberal construction of “seven members minimum”) we managed to facilitate regular policy debates, movie screenings, and the occasional phone-a-thon with the ALCU of Illinois. At the time I understood very little about the American legal system, the history of civil rights, and different perspectives on the extent of civil liberties. One day, we decided to create a petition in support of marriage equality in Illinois (it was being discussed on the state level at the time) and collect signatures from our classmates and teachers, with the eventual goal of giving the petition to our local representative, Laura Fine.
I did not understand how there could be disagreement on the subject; I had lived my life up to that point around little to no political disputes. To my horror, there was a reason the subject of marriage equality was such a major political issue. I saw the full range of possible responses from adults and teenagers I had never met; some were happy and excited, while others grew angry and confrontational. We acquired less signatures than I had anticipated, and I felt a growing discomfort with the realization that my understanding of my peers had been simplistic, flawed, and idealistic.
In undergraduate I began taking classes on social movements, history, and political philosophy. I wanted to understand the concept of “rights” metaphysically, culturally, and experientially in the lives of others. After taking a class called “Law and Social Justice,” which explored constitutional law in the context of modern debates on civil rights, I decided to go to law school. In my first semester I participated in several pro bono projects, including the Pro Bono in January trip. While my academic exploration in undergrad had given me a philosophical perspective, I quickly saw that I was lacking in my understanding of how legal concepts translate into experienced realities for different people. Civil rights are violated every day, and the results of legal debate can change lives for better or worse. I want to become the kind of person who can confidently navigate the complicated socio-political discourse on civil rights and competently advocate for the rights of others.
2/8/2019 11:16:36Alexander GrasSpring 560-03684.19Fall 20182021
My interest in civil rights and liberties goes back (in some form or another) to when I was a child, circulating petitions around the school to try and rectify the “mistreatment” we were subjected to. Those all failed. However, they came from a strong desire to see justice done and to root out inequities and other wrongs wherever I saw them. That is, in part, why I came to law school in the first place; while I have always been on the fence about what kind of law I want to practice and in what setting, I have always wanted to be in some position to help people, either full-time or alongside a for-profit practice.
Studying political science in undergrad only strengthened this line of thinking. Being forced to look at the unfortunate realities of the current system and the fact that our ideals are often just ideals was perhaps not a shock, but it was infuriating. The more I learned about recent history, the more the idea of civil liberties felt like something from long ago, like something that I almost felt absurd for thinking should be around in the present. Civil rights began to feel like an empty promise that America kept making and forgetting. Most importantly, though, I realized just how important the work of the lawyers protecting those things really was. What little of civil rights and civil liberties was intact, was only so because of that work. I could not help but think often of when I was a child—in the direct wake of 9/11 and the start of the Iraq War—being taught that the government was trying to keep us safe, being made to sing about how we were happy and free, not understanding a word of any of it because we were seven years old. Remembering those things and learning about the constant assault on civil liberties during that time made me wonder what the adults around us knew.
When I arrived at UT this past August, I started doing pro bono work in part because I wanted to help protect peoples’ liberties. My first project involved helping the mother of a disabled man to stop Medicaid from revoking necessary treatment. That experience helped to drive home what I had learned about in undergrad; here was a person with the right to medical care that would have been deprived of it if we had not been able to help. Among other things, it made me wonder how many others like him wound up losing benefits. The next project I worked on involved helping asylum seekers prepare for credible fear interviews. Here, again, were people with a legal right—to seek asylum—being mistreated because they were born in the “wrong” place. These—and other—experiences have only strengthened my interest.
Joining the Journal would help me to learn more about the cutting edge of civil rights law and civil liberties law. It would not only strengthen the interest I already have but deepen that interest as well, helping me to understand the underlying law as it develops, as well as see it applied and see how it will likely develop over time. This knowledge will be a valuable asset as I go about trying to establish a career that puts me in a position that will allow me to apply that knowledge.
genetic aversion to cilantro
2/8/2019 11:43:28Abigail OrgeronSpring 2019
97298406036.63fall 20182021
The value of civil liberties in my life became apparent when I began to realize the sheer amounts of oppression that minority groups faced. From the challenges low-income students face when obtaining an education, to the obstacles that people of color or people in the LGBT community face; a common link among minorities is their fight to obtain civil rights. I first began volunteering at elementary schools, where my mother taught in a special education classroom. During my time there, I witnessed firsthand the challenges these students faced because the law did not provide them with programs and aids that would help them succeed. I then volunteered as a tutor at the Allen, Texas Community Outreach GED program, which helps adults obtain their GED. Many of the students in the program worked full time, took care of their children after work, and still arrived late at night to continue their studies. Many did not choose to leave high school without a diploma, and often suffered for it in the work force. By volunteering in the GED program I hoped to help close the education gap that their economic level might have left them with.
Once I transferred to the University of Texas as an undergraduate, I began to volunteer with the Gender Sexuality Center. I conducted bake sales and helped spread information on campus. I gained a more thorough understanding of the unique challenges different groups of the LGBT community faced, and learned how to better fight for those unique rights, such as breaking the stigma surrounding bisexuality or insisting that the school include more gender neutral bathrooms. That passion for civil rights carried over to law school, where I now mentor a first grader who faces several social and educational barriers. I am also an avid member of OUTLaw and a recurring member of their Gender Affirmation Pro Bono Project. At the Gender Affirmation Project, I help community members from various Texas counties fill out paperwork in order to change their legal name or gender marker. I also help advise them on the next steps to take in order to complete their legal documents so that they may gain protection from having their driver’s license or legal documents match the gender and name that they use.
I also work on the Family Preparedness Clinic, which helps non-citizen parents prepare documents for the children in the event that the parents are deported or arrested. While these papers are for rare emergency situations, the chance of non-citizen parents being able to see their citizen children should the parents be deported is highly unlikely. These documents give parents a peace of mind and ensure that their children will not end up in the custody of Child Protective Services or in the foster care system. In an already so hostile and frightening time for these families, I hope to help them obtain some small aspect of peace of mind. Gaining civil rights for all has been at the forefront of my activities and extracurricular activities and I hope to continue that work in my participation in Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights.
2/8/2019 11:59:12Kallie KleinSpring 2019kallieklein@utexas.edu51220322563.93.92021
My knowledge of lawyers came primarily through my mother and her friends- all lawyers. I listened to their debates at dinner parties and was intrigued by the subject material, but I never considered entering her field. My goal was always to “help people” and to me it seemed as though my mother’s job was to argue.

In college I devoted myself deeply to history and dance, which is where I learned academically and in practice how to “help people”. The topics I studied in history, WWII and the Holocaust, were near perfect examples of the harm that can occur when a disadvantaged group lacks advocates and representation. I learned what can happen when a powerful group overtakes a system and there is no counterbalance to correct and prevent injustice. My passion for dance came not from the actual dance moves, but from instilling in my students an artistic vision and seeing the effect my classes had on their confidence in their own abilities. I crafted my classes to incorporate broader life lessons in addition to dance steps as I became more invested in my students’ growth as young people.

Through history I cultivated my love for writing and research and my ability to consider the many perspectives on an event. I became adept at finding and comprehending the large grey area that exists between what I formerly considered the dichotomy of “right” and “wrong”. I became practiced at advocating both for what I believed, and for what I did not believe and for all that lay in between. Through dance and working with children I found my natural capacity for compassion. More recently, I developed my organization and time management skills in my work running my studio’s dance company during my last two years of college and my first semester of law school while my studio director devoted herself to the medical needs of a daughter. I have had to plan dance recitals, which requires managing many children, and communicating with various other teachers and teams of adults to ensure that multiple aspects of the show come together in the right order. Through these leadership roles I’ve developed my ability to creatively solve problems-for challenges occur frequently when dealing with children.

I want to help maintain the balance that ensures the justice system functions fairly. I believe that we need lawyers actively engaged in defending civil rights if we want a fair justice system. I want to be part of the team that advocates for these rights.