Meet LatinoJustice's Summer 2015 Legal Interns

Getting to know Daily Guerrero

Daily is a rising 2L at Columbia Law School who was recently selected to the Columbia Law Review. As a 1L, she volunteered as a Spanish interpreter for the Immigration Rights Clinic. Daily was an SEO intern at Davis Polk the summer before entering law school and had participated in the SUNY Buffalo Law School-Hodgson Russ pre-law summer program as an undergrad. She received her BA in Folklore & Mythology with Honors from Harvard University.

While at Harvard she was the founder & President of the Harvard College Dominican Student Association and served as the National Dominican Student Conference Chair in 2013-4. In college, Daily worked as an intern & Spanish interpreter with Greater Boston Legal Services assisting several battered undocumented women apply for u-visas; volunteered as an interpreter for Engineers Without Borders while building a well for a rural community in Costanza, Dominican Republic; served as a Deputy Campaign Manager for a Dominican-Puerto Rican candidate elected to the Cambridge City Council; and studied abroad in Havana, Cuba, Lima Peru and Seoul, Korea. Daily has published several books in the Harvard College Stories for Orphans. Daily was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Utica, NY.

Where are you originally from?

I was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to New York when I was six years old.

What law school do you attend?

Columbia Law School.

Why do you want to become a lawyer?

I want to become a lawyer so that I can serve as a bridge between marginalized people, such as immigrants and refugees, and the legal system. I am inspired by the courage and endurance they demonstrate during their journeys to start a new life.

Why did you want to intern at LJP?

LJP is at the forefront of Latino Civil Rights. It handles cases that have a wide impact on policies that affect Latinos nationwide, such as voting rights and bilingual education. I want to learn about being an advocate from lawyers who are passionate when defending the rights of others.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?

I love eating platanos con salami.

What is a hidden talent?

Writing children’s books; aside from becoming a lawyer my secret dream is to be a writer.

What is your motto or philosophy?

“It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.” –J.K. Rowling

What is your favorite sport or team?

I don’t have a favorite sport or team, but I love watching athletes who excel in their fields during the Olympics.


Getting to know Jennifer De Jesus

Jenn is a rising 2L at NYU School of Law where she served as the LALSA 1L representative, BALSA Coordinating Committee member on Voting Rights, and as the Constitutional Law instructor for the High School Legal Institute on Saturdays! Jenn spent her alternative winter break at the Florence Detention Center in Arizona participating in Operation Streamline Immigration Enforcement at the US-Mexico Border. Prior to entering law school, she was an SEO Scholar at Cleary Gottlieb researching capital market bond agreements for the firm and asylum law for a pro bono client.

She graduated in 2014 from CUNY Macaulay Honors/Hunter College cum laude with a BA in Sociology and minor in Women’s Studies. She served as the President of the Golden Key International Honors Society, and a contributing writer for the Envoy, the Hunter College newspaper. As an undergrad, she studied abroad in Florence Italy, and also worked at the Health Professions Education Center as an information technologist, and interned with the NYC Economic Development Corp. Jenn whose family is from the Dominican Republic is a graduate of the Bronx Science High School.

Where are you originally from?

New York City

What law school do you attend?

NYU Law School

Why do you want to become a lawyer?

To champion the rights of the marginalized.

Why did you want to intern at LJP?

The combination of civil rights litigation with Educational programs was a match made in heaven for someone like me that wants to become a civil rights & constitutional litigator but maintains a deep love of education, tutoring and mentoring, etc.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?

My favorite food to eat is anything Mexican, particularly tostadas, tacos, enchiladas. ANY Kind. My favorite dish to make: dumplings & spring rolls

What is a hidden talent?

I have a knack for languages. Currently, I’m fluent in English, Spanish and Italian. (Proficient in translating Latin but I don’t think anyone counts this other than my Latin high school teacher). I can also read/write German at an intermediate level. This summer I’m going to attempt to learn Portuguese.

What is your motto or philosophy?

Kindness is free!

What is your favorite sport or team?

Other than Olympic fever every 4 years, I’m not into sports!


Helen Ivania Martinez, Northeastern University School of Law, Class of 2016

Helen graduated cum laude from Univ. of California @ Riverside in June 2012 w/ BA in Sociology & Spanish, and being on the Dean’s list 11 of 12 quarters! During college, she studied abroad in Madrid, Spain and interned with the Attorney General of the District of Columbia. During undergrad, she also volunteered as a tutor at a local elementary school assisting students with disabilities; and was a student teacher leading English & Spanish reading, writing & speaking classes for a day laborer group. After graduating, Helen worked part time as a Tutor for School on Wheels in LA, teaching language arts, math & spelling to elementary school students at dv shelters .

At Northeastern, Helen serves as Co-Chair of LALSA, and was selected as a Lawyering Fellow this past year supervising a group of eleven 1L’s on their legal skills as part of a Social Context Project researching the constitutionality of Florida’s voucher system under the state constitution; and as a Teaching Assistant in Torts. During her 1L Summer Co-op, Helen was a judicial intern for a Massachusetts Juvenile Court Justice in Lowell, Mass. where she researched a wide array of juvenile justice & child welfare issues.

Getting to know Helen Ivania Martinez

Where are you originally from?

Los Angeles, CA, but with Mexican and Salvadorean roots.

What law school do you attend?

Northeastern University School of Law

Why do you want to become a lawyer?

My family did not have the same educational opportunities I have, and becoming a lawyer is one way to show them my gratitude for their hard work and support. I also want to be a lawyer for the people who are usually marginalized by the justice system. I want to be a lawyer for my community: children, people of color, and non-citizens.

Why did you want to intern at LJP?

I want to help my community. Latinos experience injustices for various reasons, their skin color and languages to name a couple. We give so much to our country and we deserve the same in return. LatinoJustice seeks to do this every day. By working with the awesome people at LatinoJustice, I will become a better advocate.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?

Tinga! My mother taught me this delicious Mexican dish. It has chicken, tomato, and onion. Tostadas are a must companion.

What is a hidden talent?

Running. I consider it a talent because I recently started long distance running. The furthest I’ve ran is 7 miles. I am now working on a half marathon.

What is your motto or philosophy?

Be grateful to be alive. This means I choose to be happy every day, learn from everything that I do, and give back.

What is your favorite sport or team?

Basketball. My Lakers are slacking, but they’re still my team.


Getting to know Rodolfo Martinez.

Rodolfo Martinez who was born in Puerto Rico is a rising 3L at St. John’s University School of Law where he was awarded a full tuition scholarship! During his first year of law school, he was selected into NYCLA’s Hon. Harold & Dr. Suzanne Baer Minority Judicial Internship Program. During his 1L summer, Rodolfo interned with the Hon. Margaret Chan of the NYS Supreme Court. Prior to law school, he received an Associate Liberal Arts degree from Borough of Manhattan Community College; and a Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude from CCNY where he participated in the Skadden Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies. He received the Hendel Award for Excellence in Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties, and was an Executive Board Member of the Mock Trial team. As an undergrad student, Rodolfo was the only college student intern in the NYS Courts’ Access to Justice Resolution Assistant Program assisting unrepresented tenants in Housing Court navigate the court system, prepare legal documents, and referring them to local legal services organizations. Rodolfo will be participating in St. John’s Bread & Life Clinic this Fall, providing civil legal services to needy residents in Brooklyn. He previously served in the New York Army National Guard as an infantryman for five years.

Where are you originally from?

I was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico and spent the first seven years of my life in Juncos, Puerto Rico. I have lived in every borough in New York City, and currently reside in Queens.

What law school do you attend?

St. John’s University School of Law.

Why do you want to become a lawyer?

Since high school, I have been interested in politics, law, and social justice. Growing up amid the challenges of poverty, crime and injustice, I saw politics and the law as avenues to address the plight of the less fortunate. I originally aspired to become a professor so I could inspire a new generation of leaders, but I realized that such a route would be too passive. Luckily, The City College of New York (my alma mater) has an outstanding Honors Program in Legal Studies which prepared me for the rigors of law school. Thanks to the thorough education I have received at St. John’s, as well as the dedication of professors, internship supervisors and mentors, I am confident that I will achieve my goal of making a positive impact in the community.

Why did you want to intern at LJP?

I wanted to intern at LJP because I believe in its mission. The organization is committed to achieving an equitable society. Also, LJP uses the power of the law, along with advocacy and education, to create opportunities for success. I believe that not only must there be efforts to change law and policy, but there is also a responsibility to educate and help train the next generation of leaders. I wanted to learn how impact litigation is done and how civil rights groups aid the community.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?

My favorite food is arroz con gandules and grilled salmon. I do not possess the skills to make such a palatable dish.

What is a hidden talent?

I am told I am a good writer, but I think I can improve. Also, not sure if it is a talent, but I love hiking and I can walk long distances.

What is your motto or philosophy?

Be the change you want to see in the world.

What is your favorite sport or team?

New York Yankees. The chase for #28 continues.


Steve Nunez – Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Class of 2016

Steven who was born and raised in Queens to Colombian-born parents and is the first person in his family to attend college, graduated from CUNY’s Baruch College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and a Minor in Hispanic Studies. He served as President of Baruch’s La Unidad Latina, Inc. After working as a market developer for a start-up car sharing company and as a market researcher for a real estate company, he entered law school as a part-time student and CLEO Fellow. Steven has excelled academically at McKinney School of Law, where he has a 3.3 GPA and received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award in recognition of his legal writing, and has a class rank in the top 25%, selected to the Dean’s List, and the Dean’s Tutorial Society serving as a Legal Writing Tutor during his second year, and as Director of the 1L Survival Series this past school year. He has been active in the law school’s Hispanic Law Society, serving as Vice-President and President respectively the past two years, and helped quadruple the number of Latina/o law students during that period; and is the National Secretary of the HNBA Law Student Division. He spent his 1L as a judicial intern in the District of Columbia Superior Court, and as a legal intern with the immigration law firm Wildes & Weinberg in NYC. He subsequently interned with a U.S District Court for the Southern District of Indiana Judge during the Fall 2013 semester and with a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Summer 2014. Most recently, he participated in the school’s immigration clinic. Steven is good friends with several former LJP interns and fellow Baruch alums including Andres Sanchez, Hofstra Law Class of 2015!

Getting to know Steven Nunez

Where are you originally from?

I am originally from Woodside, Queens.

What law school do you attend?

I attend Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.

Why do you want to become a lawyer?

I think what attracted me to the law field is that, as a lawyer, you get to be in a unique position to help someone resolve an issue that they would probably not be able to find a solution to, otherwise. People usually seek lawyers when things get really bad for them. Being there to walk people though those situations must be an incredibly rewarding experience.

Why did you want to intern at LJP?

LJP's focus is aligned with many of my interests in the law. Since beginning law school, I've grown to have an interest in employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and immigrant's rights issues. Each of these areas of law are coincidentally areas that LJP does work in. I was also very attracted to the idea of coming home for my last summer before graduating and specifically working with the Latino community in the tri-state area.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?

I love buffalo wings. I wish I had culinary talent to make something for everyone.

What is a hidden talent?

I'm a decent soccer player, although I'm probably not as good as I used to be.

What is your motto or philosophy?

I just like to enjoy the moment and treat everyone with respect. Being nice can really brighten someone's day.

What is your favorite sport or team?

I'm a huge soccer fan. I follow the U.S. national team closely and have been a fan of the New York Redbulls (formerly NY Metrostars) since 1996.


Getting to know Maria José Padilla

Maria is currently a rising 2L at Rutgers University School of Law. She graduated from SUNY Binghamton magna cum laude with a double major of Political Science (3.9 GPA) & Latin American and Caribbean Studies (3.92 GPA) and was a member of the Thurgood Marshall Pre-Law Society. She received her Associate of Arts degree from Bard High School Early College, an accelerated high school-college program. During college, she worked as a language resource specialist assisting other Binghamton students apply their Spanish skills to coursework; and interned with Harlowtown.

Before entering law school, Maria worked as a paralegal for Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP where she translated and edited all information for the firm’s Spanish-speaking clients in a class action against the NYC Department of Corrections. While working as an administrative assistant at the Shift Project, an international human rights NGO, she voluntered at Harlowtown, a non-profit community legal services office and helped to establish a pro bono divorce clinic and prisoner reentry program. Maria is an LJP Education Division alum, having attended Law Day where she met Rutgers Dean Yvvette Bravo-Weber. Maria was born in Ecuador and grew up in Queens, NY.

Where are you originally from?

I was born in Azogues, Ecuador and grew up in Queens, NY.

What law school do you attend?

Rutgers School of Law-Newark

Why do you want to become a lawyer?

Having experienced firsthand the many injustices people of color face, I want to be a voice for those that are under-served.

Why did you want to intern at LJP?

As a future civil rights attorney, I aspire to advocate for Latinos and help them gain greater access to legal recourse. Additionally, I wanted the invaluable experience of working on cases that have the potential to bring systematic changes.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?

Guacamole! It’s the only thing I can “cook.”

What is a hidden talent?

I can do voice acting.

What is your motto or philosophy?

True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. -Helen Keller

What is your favorite sport or team?

I love boxing.


Sangitha Palaniappa, Georgetown University Law Center, Class of 2016

Sangitha is a rising 2L at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC. At Georgetown, Sangitha participates in the Pro Bono Outreach Project with the Washington Legal Clinic assisting and educating the homeless population on their right to shelter during the winter months. Sangitha attended the University of Central Florida in Orlando and graduated summa cum laude with her BA in political science and Spanish. During her time at the University of Central Florida, Sangitha was an economic and social affairs intern at the United States Mission to the United Nations where she worked on issues regarding women's rights and the UN sustainable development goals. She also volunteered at an elementary school assisting Spanish speaking immigrant children with their standardized testing preparation. Sangitha also studied abroad in Spain for four months. She participated in a Spanish studies program at the Universidad de Alcalá.

Getting to know Sangitha Palaniappa

Where are you originally from?

Coral Springs, Florida

What law school do you attend?

Georgetown University Law Center

Why do you want to become a lawyer?

To help disadvantaged communities and change the world!

Why did you want to intern at LJP?

To protect the rights of the Latino community

What is your favorite food to eat/make?

Burritos, but I cannot cook!

What is a hidden talent?

I have done Indian classical dance for over ten years

What is your motto or philosophy?

Treat others the way you want to be treated

What is your favorite sport or team?

Miami Heat!!!

Yarelisse Latorre Robles, Inter American University School of Law

Yarelisse Latorre Robles attends Inter American University School of Law in San Juan, Puerto Rico. At Inter American University, she has worked in Social Justice programs and in the clinic of Education and Citizen Participation. Yarelisse who has extensive experience working for social justice and educational programs served as President of the law school organization Movimiento Pro Justicia Social, which advocates for civil and human rights, and social justice in Puerto Rico. She has also done volunteer work to help minority groups and assist homeless people. Yarelisse interned in the MRL Abogados law offices in Barcelona, Spain. She has worked as a Spanish as a Second Language and English as a Second Language instructor in Italy and Puerto Rico, and has created Educational Civil Rights programs and ESL programs for minority groups. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies: Pre-translation in Spanish and English with a minor in Italian Studies from the University of Puerto Rico. She has also studied abroad at Universidad Complutense in Madrid, the University of Barcelona –School of Law in Barcelona, and most recently, at the University of Palermo-School of Law in Buenos Aires, Argentina and at the University of Adolfo Ibañez-School of Law in Santiago, Chile.

Where are you originally from?

I’m originally from Puerto Rico

What law school do you attend?

I attend Inter American University of Puerto Rico – School of Law #InterDerecho #InterLaw

Why do you want to become a lawyer?

I believe that Justice is possible and that we need lawyers that can be good and are willing to defend injustices –regardless of the money or the corrupted system. I want to be a lawyer to help others. To help “minority” voices to be heard. I believe that if people work together for a better world you can reach justice for all. Some call it Utopia; I call it a project of life.

Why did you want to intern at LJP?

I believe that education, advocacy and citizen participation are the keys to open the doors for justice, especially for those who are in need. That's why LATINO JUSTICE is all about what I believe: As a Puerto Rican, a LATINA, and a person who wants to live in a better world for her future generations. Working in LJ has been a great experience for me: as a law student, as a professional and as a human being.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?

My favorite food: Puerto Rican Food. *Disclaimer: My cooking skills are not so good- but My mom’s the best cook in the entire world so you are invited to my family’s house anytime so she can cook for you (You can arrive like a PARRANDA- Awesome Puerto Rican tradition-google it!)

What is a hidden talent?

I am a Professional Dancer (Not so hidden) and I speak Italian.

What is your motto or philosophy?

“Il bene genera bene” which means that good will always generate good. Be good and good will always come to you. Also, be always optimistic because what you think is what you attract.

What is your favorite sport or team?

My favorite team is: TEAM PUR (Puerto Rico Team - any competition- any sport- Always rooting for Puerto Rico); And my favorite sport is: dance…. I think dance is a sport and an Art because of the training and the hard work that dancers put (Physically and emotionally) in the process of doing a beautiful art.

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