2023–24 Launchpad Scholars

About the Scholars

Rawan Abhari

Headshot of Rawan AbhariRawan is a recent graduate from Florida State University, originally born in Missouri. She holds a B.S. in economics and a BA in Middle Eastern studies. 

Throughout her undergraduate tenure, Rawan engaged in various roles expanding her public interest legal pursuits. In her last semester, she interned at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and completed her third policy internship at the Florida Capitol. Last summer, she served as a policy intern with the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill, and this summer, she worked with the Lawyers’ Committee in its Fair Housing program. She has developed a keen interest in global climate governance coupled with a strong commitment to advancing economic justice.

Rawan is now serving as a Foreign Policy Fellow back on Capitol Hill with Congressman Andy Kim. Rawan aspires to litigate on behalf of individuals affected by environmental disasters or economic and financial discrimination, striving to achieve economic justice across communities by challenging orthodoxies and advocating for more sustainable federal policies.

Yakeleen Almazan 

Headshot of Yakeleen AlmazanYakeleen Almazan is a junior at Yale College, studying Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and Education. She is a leader in advocacy organizations, including the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project, Mecha de Yale, and the Temporary Restraining Order Project at Yale Law School (YLS). 

This past summer, through the YLS Liman Undergraduate Fellowship, she interned at the San Diego Public Defender’s Office, spearheading a high-stakes criminal trial and “crimmigration” mitigation. During the academic year, Yakeleen works at La Casa Cultural and directs Yale’s Mariachi. 

Through experiencing injustice as the daughter of convicted felons from the immigrant community of Tucson, Arizona, Yakeleen became passionate about addressing the intersections of criminal and immigration law. Therefore, she is pursuing law school to address “crimmigration” via direct representation and advocacy.

Makira (Kira) Burns 

Headshot of Kira BurnsMakira (Kira) Burns received her B.S. in Political Science (Pre-Law) from Florida A&M University and is currently an Attorney Support Assistant at Latham & Watkins.

Prior to graduating from FAMU, she served as Student Body Vice-President, a Legislative Intern for the U.S. House of Representatives, and a Foreign Service Intern at U.S. Embassy London in the United Kingdom. Kira was also appointed as a Fellow for the Florida Gubernatorial Fellows Program on behalf of the Executive Office of the Governor. The Biden-Harris Administration selected her as an Ambassador for the White House Initiative on HBCUs. 

Kira is originally from Orlando, FL and is eager to attend law school in the near future. She has a strong interest in corporate law, litigation, and pro bono work.

Bariela Capollari 

Headshot of Bariela CapollariBariela Capollari is a master's candidate at the London School of Economics, where she studies Human Rights; her dissertation focuses on the human rights implications of monitoring reproductive health data in the United States. 

Prior to LSE, Bariela received her B.A. from the University at Albany, SUNY, in Political Science and Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity and a minor in Legal Studies. During her undergraduate studies, she interned with the New York State Division of Human Rights and the New York State Senate with both Senator Samra Brouk and Senator Julia Salazar

Bariela is originally from Pogradec, Albania but grew up in Albany, New York after her family immigrated to the U.S. She is interested in attending law school to utilize the law to advance the safeguarding of human rights as well as to advocate for women and immigrant rights.

Otice Dylan Carder 

Headshot of Otice Dylan CarderOtice Dylan Carder recently graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University and currently is a Legal Analyst for Y Combinator, where he investigates prospective portfolio companies and prepares investment documents for onboarded companies.

At Georgetown, he served as a Senator in the university’s Student Association, where he introduced policy initiatives to make Georgetown’s campus more inclusive and accessible to first-generation, low-income students.

Originally from West Virginia, Otice is the youngest licensed commercial pesticide applicator in four states where he founded a pest control company with his father. Otice’s experiences owning a small business, including serving as the youngest member on his local county’s Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, has fueled his interest to pursue business law to increase accessibility of self-employment in low-income communities.

Genevieve Phoenix Chase

Headshot of Genevieve ChaseGenevieve is a junior at Yale majoring in Philosophy with aspirations to pursue family law and victim advocacy. 

Before college, Genevieve served as a combat veteran and a senior leader in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps, where she managed the U.S. Army Threat Awareness and Reporting Program. She also founded American Women Veterans, advocating for veterans and their families. Notably, she championed support for repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, women's inclusion in combat roles, and improved healthcare for veterans. 

Genevieve is a keynote speaker, Points of Light and Women of Worth honoree, and Army Women's Foundation Hall of Fame inductee. Genevieve calls Virginia home, volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children, and enjoys writing, long-range shooting, gardening, and photography.

Lucy Chen

Headshot of Lucy ChenLucy Chen is a Senior Litigation Paralegal II at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, LLP, where she specializes in complex intellectual property, antitrust, securities, and pro bono matters. As a Team Lead, she recently led a paralegal trial team to success in the largest biopharma acquisition of the year. Prior to joining Cravath, Lucy served as a legal assistant at three other law firms.

Born in New York, NY, and raised in Queens, NY, Lucy graduated from New York University magna cum laude. She was the Vice President of The Review and Debates at NYU, a quarterly journal publication and debate society, facilitating meaningful discourse on a variety of current and abstract issues. 

As the first in her family to receive a grade school education and a first-generation American, Lucy is interested in attending law school to advocate for underrepresented and underserved communities and to pursue impactful change through law.

Chelsea Divers

Headshot of Chelsea DiversChelsea Divers is a fourth year at the University of Virginia double majoring in Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law (PPL) and Psychology.

While in college, she serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the PPL Journal, an investigator for the University Judiciary Committee, and a debate teacher in local Charlottesville middle schools. This past summer, she studied Health and Welfare and Crime and Punishment at University College, Oxford. 

Chelsea is originally from Chesterfield, Virginia and, as a mother, educator, and first-generation college student, she is interested in attending law school to ensure that high-quality legal counsel is accessible regardless of one’s socioeconomic status or background. She plans to eventually become a Guardian Ad Litem to protect the interests and welfare of children.

Desaree Edwards 

Headshot of Desaree EdwardsDesaree Edwards is a junior at Wesleyan University majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Human Rights Advocacy. On campus, Desaree is a Posse Veterans Scholar, Pat Tillman Scholar, and President of the Student Veterans Organization. This summer, she interned at the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Prior to college, she served eight years as a Nuclear Machinist’s Mate and became the first nuclear-trained enlisted female submariner in the Atlantic Fleet. The challenges she faced during the integration of women into submarines drove her to leave the Navy and pursue a career in advocacy.

Desaree’s academic studies and experiences in the Navy have inspired her to pursue a career in legal advocacy and community support for victims of human trafficking.

Kenneth De Jesus Gonzalez Santibanez

Headshot of Kenneth Gonzalez SantibanezKenneth Gonzalez Santibanez is a paralegal at the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (“LACLJ”), where he provides direct, trauma-informed legal services to low-income survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking in multiple practice areas, including housing law, family law, domestic violence prevention, and consumer debt. 

Kenneth has years of work experience in direct legal services, previously interning for the Legal Services of New Jersey and for the Immigration Department at LACLJ.

Kenneth received his A.B. in History with honors from Princeton University, where he was awarded the C.O. Joline Prize in American History. Raised in an immigrant family, he is interested in attending law school to become an advocate for the immigrant community in his home state of Texas.

Getúlio González-Mulattieri

Headshot of Getulio Gonzalez-MullattieriGetúlio González-Mulattieri is a student at Cornell University where he is pursuing a B.S. in Public Policy after having graduated from Hillsborough Community College and received a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, which allows top community college students to complete their degrees at selective four-year colleges.

Prior to college, Getúlio enlisted in the US Air Force and then worked as a community organizer in the Greater Tampa Bay area where he was instrumental in the formulation of the City of Tampa’s Office of Tenant Advocacy. His advocacy contributed towards the City of Tampa’s 100% Renewable Energy Resolution and the implementation of Tampa’s Climate Action & Equity Plan.

Having witnessed many of his friendships become entangled with the justice system, Getúlio is driven to become a legal expert in civil rights and juvenile justice reform.

Yutsil Hernandez 

Headshot of Yutsil HernandezYutsil Hernandez is the Assistant Director of Transfer, Adult, and Graduate Admissions at Salem College, where she creates, refines, and executes systems to help students of all ages and backgrounds continue their higher education journeys. 

Throughout her undergraduate studies, Yutsil worked full-time, serving in a variety of leadership roles in the service industry over the span of a decade, rising to the level of General Manager of a local bakery responsible for establishing its operational strategies, hiring and managing its workforce, and overseeing its budget. In addition to this, she has been committed to advocacy at the local level, which led her to serve as the Communication Director for a state-level political campaign. 

A native of Mexico City, Yutsil received her B.A. in Political Science from Salem College. Her experiences as an immigrant, a business leader, and an advocate for civil rights have inspired her to attend law school to protect both people's rights and ideas alike.

Jessica Herrera 

Headshot of Jessica HerreraJessica Herrera is a Benefits Legal Assistant at the Alliance for Children’s Rights, where she aids in representing caregivers in foster care, guardianship, and adoption benefits matters so that they can receive essential funding. 

This past summer, Jessica interned with the Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute, where she researched, published, and presented policy recommendations to improve the educational outcomes of foster youth.

Jessica is originally from Soledad, CA. She recently graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a B.A. in History with minors in Education Studies and Latin American Studies. As a former foster youth herself, she is interested in attending law school to advocate for the rights of vulnerable children, young adults, and families impacted by foster care.

Tristan John-Jandles 

Headshot of Tristan John-JandlesTristan John-Jandles is a Canadian-American junior at Grand Canyon University, studying government and legal studies.

While in college, Tristan has advised Arizona's State Superintendent, and now chairs a commission with the Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators, aiming to introduce student board member positions to all of Arizona's 240+ school boards. He also serves as a Legal Assistant for his university’s General Counsel’s office, conducting research and briefing senior university leadership on artificial intelligence. Tristan contributes to the legal upkeep of a diverse intellectual property portfolio and reviews contracts, bankruptcy matters, and certificates of insurance.

A first-generation American and college student from a low-income background, Tristan aspires to attend law school and contribute to AI’s legal and regulatory landscape while engaging in pro bono education work.

Brianna Johnson 

Headshot of Brianna JohnsonBrianna Johnson is a junior at Duke University, majoring in Public Policy with double minors in African & African American Studies and Global Health. 

Brianna currently serves as the President of the Black Pre-Law Society and a Project Lead on the Promoting Racial Equity and Housing Stability in Durham Bass Connections team. During her sophomore year, Brianna was a Research Assistant at the Wilson Center for Science and Justice, where she interviewed prosecutors about their progressive prosecution and plea bargaining practices. 

Brianna comes from a southern African-American family that shaped her understanding of social justice issues. Her desire to address the injustices suffered by the Black community at the hands of the legal system has motivated Brianna to pursue a legal career in civil rights and criminal justice.

Aliyah Kilpatrick 

Headshot of Aliyah KilpatrickAliyah Kilpatrick is a litigation project assistant at Proskauer Rose LLP, where she supports attorneys preparing for trial. She also assists with recruitment efforts for the paralegal services team to increase diversity and inclusion amongst staff.

Prior to joining Proskauer Rose as a full-time employee, she interned at the firm on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team, working to serve the diverse lawyer’s network and the legal outreach program.

Originally from Syracuse, New York, Aliyah received her B.S. from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, where she served as the Managing Partner of the Black Ivy Pre-Law Society. She is interested in going to law school to become a litigation attorney and to help people become knowledgeable of their legal rights.

Sherlock Langevine 

Headshot of Sherlock LangevineSherlock Langevine, currently a junior at Stanford University, is pursuing a degree in Mathematical and Computational Science, and a minor in Feminist Gender and Sexuality Studies. 

Over the past summer, he engaged in marine biology research through Stanford's CareerEd Fellowship. During this experience, he worked to develop a program designed to compare photos of coral reefs using computer-vision technology to study and analyze the way they change over time.

Hailing from Antigua and Barbuda, Sherlock is passionate about human rights, and he aspires to further his education by attending law school with the goal of becoming a human rights attorney. His ultimate vision involves serving as a judge in the Caribbean Court of Justice, spearheading a reformation of the colonial-era legislation that still governs the Caribbean.

Chase Leito

Headshot of Chase LeitoChase Leito is a Legal Program Manager at the Illinois Prison Project where they collaborate with attorneys to file clemency petitions on behalf of incarcerated clients, find them housing, and connect them to reentry resources.

Prior to joining the Illinois Prison Project, Chase worked on the policy team at the Chicago Community Bond Fund to implement the Pretrial Fairness Act, making Illinois the first state to abolish money bond statewide. Chase also served as a researcher for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, focusing on police misconduct, Section 8 housing, and education equity. 

Originally from Tempe, Arizona, Chase graduated cum laude from the University of Chicago. Invested in social change, they want to become a movement lawyer helping communities create systemic changes to the criminal legal system.

Jose Leon Sandoval 

Headshot of Jose Leon SandovalJose Leon Sandoval is an Admission Advisor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Undergraduate Admission Office, where he advises a diverse prospective student applicant pool. Depending on the admission cycle, Jose answers admission-related questions, evaluates undergraduate applications to UCLA, and troubleshoots pre-matriculation issues with incoming students.

Jose Leon Sandoval received his B.A. from UCLA, where he double majored in Political Science and Chicanx and Central American Studies. As an undergraduate student, Jose continued to give back to his community by mentoring high school students from underprivileged backgrounds, helping them reach higher education. To this day, he continues to donate his time and expertise in undergraduate admissions to level the playing field for all students.

Katherine Marin 

Headshot of Katherine MarinKatherine Marin is a press intern for the Office of Rep. Maxwell Frost (FL-10). Prior to her congressional work, Katherine was a White House intern in the Office of the First Lady and Office of the Vice President. 

She recently graduated from the University of Florida Honors Program with a degree in English Literature. While in college, Katherine was the host of Florida Politics, Reviewed, a public policy podcast hosted through the University’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service. She also spent time running voter registration drives. Her favorite memory volunteering took place while registering the Florida football team to vote (Go Gators)!

Originally from Miami, Florida, Katherine’s hobbies include mural painting and watching sports. One day, she hopes to practice public interest law.

Roselyn Ovalle

Headshot of Roselyn OvalleRoselyn Ovalle is a rising Junior at Rice University, where she is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities. 

This past summer, she interned at the Pangea Network, a non-profit organization focused on empowering women and youth through educational and financial resources. During the school year, she works at Rice University's Baker Institute Center for the United States and Mexico, where she supports their project on immigration reform. 

Roselyn is originally from Houston, Texas and as a daughter of immigrants, she is interested in attending law school to help advocate for immigrants who have been victims of gender-based violence. 

Jennifer Pérez 

Headshot of Jennifer PerezJennifer Pérez is a professional with public interest and corporate law firm experience. She currently works at Morgan Lewis, supporting the Office of General Counsel.

In the past, Jennifer worked at nonprofits that focus on immigration, criminal, and labor law. As an Immigrant Justice Corp Fellow, she became an accredited representative, allowing her to represent clients in immigration cases, and, at the Parole Preparation Project, she helped individuals and their loved ones navigate the parole release process.

Jennifer grew up in the Bay Area and received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. Ultimately, she hopes to pursue her interest in privacy law, while continuing to support the community through pro bono work.

Celeste V. Sanchez 

Headshot of Celeste SanchezCeleste V. Sanchez is a Latina native of Long Beach, California. She earned her B.A. in Political Science and Business Economics with a minor in Chinese Language and Culture from California State University, Long Beach. 

Her experience growing up in a multi-status household and an underserved community fuels her passion for engaging in politics, policy, advocacy, and the law. She is currently a full-time Bilingual Legislative Aide who works to equitably address city priority issues on housing, homelessness, public safety, and accessibility. She desires to attend law school in order to learn more about protecting the rights of immigrants, tenants, and workers. 

When not working, Celeste enjoys traveling, dancing, spending quality time with loved ones, and experiencing life as authentically as possible.

Kegan Strawn

Headshot of Kegan StrawnKegan Strawn is a computer science Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California, working on safety methods in machine learning for autonomous robots. 

During his graduate and undergraduate studies, Kegan worked for multiple software and robotics companies. After growing up in Colorado, he received his B.S. at Colorado State University, where he studied computer science and math and worked as a research and teaching assistant in the Distributed Systems Research Group.

Eager to learn about the legal landscape AI operates in, with his background in tech, Kegan is interested in exploring the intersection of AI, robotics, and law.

Amel Weaver

Headshot of Amel WeaverAmel Weaver is currently an Admissions Advisor at Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business, where she advises students throughout the MBA application process. Having experienced the inequities and disparities that plague marginalized communities, Amel is passionate about dismantling barriers to equity, and in her current role, she works to create access for diverse students. 

Prior to her current role, Amel has impacted underrepresented populations through her recruiting efforts for Amazon’s Apprenticeship program and through interning on Capitol Hill. 

A first-generation college student, Amel received her B.A. from University of Texas Austin. Her internship with the U.S. House Committee of Education and Labor led to her interest in supporting marginalized communities through education and employment law.