Four students enrolled at McGeorge School of Law have participated in the Legal Education Access Pipeline, Inc. (LEAP) program prior to law school. LEAP builds access to law school education for groups of people who have historically been underrepresented in the legal field and provides comprehensive law school admission assistance through a nine-month fellowship.

First-year law student Millie Hernandez, second-year law student Valentina Martinez-Rodriguez, and third-year law students Vanessa Ibarra and Fara Sheila Rodriguez were LEAP Fellows.

The LEAP Fellowship gives students access and exposure to practicing attorneys and offers a meticulously designed curriculum to help them become competitive law school applicants, successful law students, and future change makers. Pipeline programs play an important role in building equity in our legal system and society and help to make sure there is better representation of diverse communities among law makers, legal professionals, and in positions of leadership.

Ibarra said she is profoundly grateful to have been a part of the inaugural LEAP class in 2020. 

“LEAP did not merely offer financial relief. It extended a supportive hand that guided me through the challenging journey of law school preparation. The mentors and resources they provided not only eased the financial burden but also helped me craft an application that truly reflected my unwavering commitment to the legal profession,” Ibarra said.

The impact of LEAP’s assistance extends far beyond the initial application process, rather it echoes throughout students’ entire legal education and careers.

“LEAP has not only transformed my dream of becoming a lawyer into a reality but has also instilled in me a deep sense of gratitude and a burning passion for ensuring that the opportunities they offer are known and accessible to all,” Ibarra said.

As a member of the newest incoming class, Hernandez was able to utilize the LEAP program to assist with her application to McGeorge School of Law.

“LEAP was a foundational component to my success in applying and preparing for law school. With their support, I was able to find a community of students who were not only first-generation law school applicants but also from similar backgrounds and experiences as mine,” Hernandez said. “I am eternally grateful for LEAP and look forward to contributing to a family that is devoted to our success every step of the way.”

Martinez-Rodriguez said that the LEAP fellowship provided her with invaluable opportunities, such as participating in moot court oral arguments in front of retired California Supreme Court Justice Carlos R. Moreno, connecting with a diverse and highly accomplished legal community, gaining both an attorney and law student mentor, and receiving access to a complimentary Law School Admission Test (LSAT) prep course along with essential support for law school applications. 

“With these resources, I not only gained the confidence to navigate the intricate law school application process but also saw myself reflected in the journeys of other legal professionals, a perspective I had never before encountered,” Martinez-Rodriguez said. “I attribute my journey to McGeorge to the LEAP program, for it exposed me to a world I had previously deemed beyond reach and instilled in me the confidence and unwavering support to turn my dreams into reality.”

For more information about McGeorge School of Law, visit our website.

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