May 4, 2023
Jesse Arianna Gonzales Awarded 2023 Woolverton Family Public Interest Award
Please join us in congratulating 3L Jesse Arianna Gonzales on receiving the Woolverton Family Public Interest Award!
Established in 2017, the Woolverton Family Public Interest Award is given annually to one graduating student in recognition of demonstrated exceptional dedication to public interest law activities while at Southwestern. The Award is in the amount of $5,000.
Meet Jesse Arianna Gonzales
What is the most satisfying aspect of public service for you?
The most satisfying aspect of public service is seeing how my assistance impacts my clients’ lives. Many underserved immigrants do not have access to legal representation. By providing the necessary knowledge and resources and accomplishing tangible results due to my advocacy, I see how my clients’ lives are transformed. Through public service, you see the strong connection between the fruits of your labor and resulting positive outcomes for each client. It is so fulfilling and rewarding to see my fellow immigrants work towards achieving their American Dream as a result of helping them navigate an incredibly complex immigration system.
What have been some of your favorite highlights of your service involvement during law school?
My favorite highlights of my service involvement are my client interactions. In the course of working with each client, I became very familiar with their story, hardships, personality, family, and more. They have touched my life through their strength and resilience.
In particular, I will never forget meeting one U-visa client’s nephew, influencing their daughter to pursue a career in law and eating at their taco stand, hearing tears of joy over the phone when one SIJS client’s green card application was finally filed after many roadblocks, and receiving thanks and gifts for reuniting a Guatemalan family that had been separated for 19 years.
What words of advice do you have for future Southwestern students?
Regardless of your career plans, take advantage of the available clinics and public service opportunities. Pursuing this kind of opportunity is a transformative experience that can help develop vital legal skills from taking early responsibility over a case, contacting government agencies, learning how to work efficiently with co-counsel, and more.
Furthermore, public service/pro bono work is an obligation that extends far beyond the aspirational duty of 50 hours each year. As future lawyers, we have a responsibility to advocate for others to turn “justice for all” into reality. Use your talents, skills, and knowledge to help those in need.
Congratulations on receiving the Woolverton Family Public Interest Award! Feel free to share a personal note with those you’d like to thank for supporting you during your law school career.
To the alumni donors, I am sincerely honored to have been selected as the recipient of the Woolverton Family Public Interest Award. Thank you so much for funding this scholarship and for your generosity! This scholarship will provide me with much-needed support.
To my clinic professor, Professor Andrea Ramos, thank you for allowing me to continuously participate in the Immigration Clinic (four times!) to hone my skills and experience in the field. My passion for Immigration Law and helping the immigrant community has substantially grown under your tutelage.
To other clinic faculty and staff, specifically, Heidy and Angel, thank you for your guidance and support. Both of you are strong pillars of support in the clinic office. Whenever I was lost or confused, you two were always willing to assist me.