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Hello, my name is Nathalie. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. I am a fluent Spanish speaker. I earned my undergraduate degree from Florida International University in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. At a young age, I developed an interest in the legal system and became more fascinated by it after my undergraduate studies. One of my major goals has been to attend law school and help the community. I truly believe that experiencing difficult life altering situations help shape the person you become in the future and allow you to view and understand life from different perspectives. Life experiences have taught me to voice my opinion as well as defend those who have difficulty defending themselves. My interest in the California Innocence Project arose from this belief and helped me make the decision to attend California Western. I am honored to be a part of this wonderful organization and appreciate the confidence from the staff that we can all make a difference.
Hi, my name is Ashley. I was born and raised in many different parts of Chicago or Chicccaaago if you are hearing me say it. At a very young age, I learned how to adapt to my surroundings and as I grew older those surroundings became my drive for law school. In May of 2013, I graduated the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a concentration of Pre-Law. My father was born in Cuba and my mother was born in Puerto Rico. This makes me a lot of things: deeply connected to my culture, appreciative of others’ culture, and extremely passionate. I have always found myself helping others, not for the personal gain but because I understood all too well what it meant to be hopeless. Being a part of the California Innocence Project allows me to be someone’s last hope and I am honored to be in such a position.
Hello, my name is Monica. I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona and I am a native Spanish speaker. I completed my undergraduate career at the University of Arizona and studied Psychology and Pre-Law. There, I took a course in Forensic Psychology that ultimately changed my life. Part of this course highlighted the many errors inherent in eyewitness testimony and the countless wrongful convictions that followed. I was deeply moved to learn the stories of the victims who were incarcerated for a crime they did not commit. I cannot think of a greater injustice than this. I knew then that I wanted to attend law school to become a voice for the voiceless. After graduating, I worked as a Paralegal and assisted injured workers with their Worker’s Compensation and Social Security claims. Two years later, I committed to further my legal career and I enrolled at California Western. I learned about the California Innocence Project and immediately knew this was my chance to advocate for the voiceless. I am incredibly blessed to work for this tremendous program and to fight for those who have had their freedom stripped from them.
Hi! My name is Tom, and I’m a native San Diegan. Prior to law school, I received a B.A. in English from San Diego State. I worked in retail for several years after that. I floated around without much of a purpose in life. I made the decision to come to law school (relatively) later in life. I chose California Western School of Law in hopes of working for CIP. When I served on a jury in a criminal trial in 2010, I knew that I wanted to be a part of the criminal justice system. After watching several documentaries about innocent people who had been wrongfully convicted, my goal in life became blindingly obvious. I worked hard, and was eventually accepted as a clinical intern at CIP. I am so proud to help make a positive change in the lives of people who have had their freedom ripped away.
Hello, My name is Courtney. I am 23 years old, born and raised in the Chicagoland area. Before coming to California Western, I earned my undergraduate degree from the University of California – Santa Barbara. There, I studied Political Science with an emphasis on American Politics. Most recently, I served as a law clerk for the Riverside County Public Defender’s Office in Murrieta, California. I currently work as the President of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, an Honors Instructor for Legal Skills and a mom to my three dogs & one cat. I feel very honored to be working as a clinical intern for the California Innocence Project this year. I was raised to stand up for people who everyone else has turned their backs on. This is exactly what CIP does. This program gives people a second chance at life.
I grew up in Pollock Pines, CA, a small town in the middle of well, nowhere. Growing up in a small town made me realize I wanted to move to a bigger city to do bigger things. I went to California State University San Marcos and majored in Criminology and Justice studies and learned about all the injustices in our Criminal Justice system. This further reinforced my desire to go to law school and become involved in the Criminal Justice system. At California Western School of Law I have been given opportunities to do just that! This past summer I was a law clerk for the San Diego County Public Defender’s office and now in working with CIP I can help exonerate victims of wrongful convictions and begin my life long journey of using the law to assist those who need my help the most. I not only want to be a go-getter, but a go-giver!
Like most, my childhood was one of limitless idealism. Even at a very young age, I loved learning about the legal system. I had this grandiose idea I could single-handedly change the world through practicing law. After a series of life altering events, I lost the youthful idealism and I viewed idealism as a luxury, a fantasy for the naïve, which was inapplicable in the real world. My life’s direction turned from law and I obtained a Masters Degree in Political Science. I then volunteered for AmeriCorps and worked with at-risk youth in Los Angeles. From there, I worked as a grant writer and mentor program manager for a non-profit assisting probation and foster youth. I found myself acting as an advocate for minors. After a few years, my idealism returned. However, it was no longer the saccharine, naïve idealism of my youth, but one forged in the face of adversity. This neo-idealism was rooted in the experience that one does not have to single-handedly change the world, merely the life of another, to have a meaningful impact. This is how I ended up at CIP. I want to advocate for those who have been wrongfully convicted and help them get their lives back, one client at a time.
Following years spent dreaming of a career in criminal defense, my involvement with The California Innocence Project has finally lent me the opportunity to truly make a difference in others’ lives. Receiving my Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from North Carolina State University in 2013, and graduating with a rather unconventional degree for a potential law student, has given myself a unique perspective than that of my colleagues; and my extensive participation on both the track and football team at NC State, has imparted upon myself a competitive drive to succeed. Watching my Uncle own and operate a Criminal Defense Firm in Florida has ultimately driven me to this career path. Following my first year of law school, I elected to work for the San Diego Public Defender’s Office, where I further delved into the field by counseling clients, analyzing facts to develop persuasive theories, writing motions and gaining invaluable courtroom experience. I am now entering my second year at the California Western School of Law and look forward to contributing my skill set to free the wrongfully convicted.
My name is Madelynn and I’m in my 3rd year of law school. Prior to coming to California Western, I received my B.A. in Philosophy from Manhattan College in NYC. I’m a California girl who left her heart in the big apple. Studying philosophy is what drove my decision to come to law school and specifically to study the many issues surrounding criminal defense work. I have always felt that my purpose on this earth is to help others. Working with the California Innocence Project allows me to fight for individuals who are experiencing the most wicked injustice. I am truly blessed to serve our clients and to give them the opportunity that the justice system stripped away.
My name is Sirianna and I am currently a second year law student at the California Western School of Law. I earned my bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington – Bothell. Knowing I was destined for law school, I achieved my Undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies: Law, Economics, & Public Policy. In addition to my studies, I also worked as a Customer Service Lead at O’Brien Watersports for over four years, while I earned my degree. When I am not studying, I like to spend time with my family in the Pacific Northwest. Currently, I am obtaining my law degree in order to pursue a career as a criminal defense attorney. My unique background and experiences have shaped me into an advocate for those who are unable to defend themselves in a justice system that does not always provide justice. Further, I personally know an individual who has been wrongfully convicted and it affected me greatly, so I am honored to be able to work with the California Innocence Project to help give others a chance to regain their liberty.
My name is Goli and I was born in Tehran, Iran. At the age of seven, I moved to San Diego with my family. I received my degree in Business Marketing at the California State University of San Marcos. I was always interested in law, but re-visiting Iran and seeing some of the injustices made me realize that I want to be a lawyer. The California Innocence Project sparked my interest from the moment I heard about it. After attending a seminar and hearing an exoneree speak about what CIP did for him, I immediately wanted to apply for the program. I strongly believe in CIP’s mission and I am very proud to be part of the project.