Current recipients of the Tony Patiño Merit Award

The following law students are Tony Patiño Fellows-Elect at Columbia, Hastings, and Chicago:

Columbia Law School

Maryam Asenuga

Class of ‘23

Maryam Asenuga is a native of Rhode Island and graduated from Duke University in 2020 where she studied Arabic and Public Policy. At Columbia Law School, Maryam is a Greene Scholar where her interests include civil rights, advocacy for marginalized communities, and criminal justice. Following graduation, Maryam hopes to practice in California by first working for a federal judge and then elevating to a higher-level position that will allow her to influence policy and the law.

Prior to law school, Maryam focused on making change for the marginalized communities on Duke University’s campus. There, she was appointed by the president of Duke to serve on the President’s Council on Black Affairs. Her favorite memories at Duke was serving as a leader in student government. As an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community and a student government senator, Maryam co-creating and institutionalized the nation’s first Pride Invitational for recently-admitted LGBTQIA+ students to welcome them onto campus and to introduce them to Duke and Durham-specific LGBTQIA+ resources. As the cabinet director of her student government’s Racial and Multicultural Committee, Maryam was able to collaborate with Duke’s Native and Indigenous communities to successfully persuade Duke’s administration to construct an on-campus space celebrating Duke and Durham’s Native and Indigenous communities. Following completion of her undergrad experience, Maryam was awarded the Student of the Year Advocacy Award.

During undergrad, Maryam interned at a gender justice non-profit in Cape Town, South Africa to further her passions on advocacy for women of color. There, she worked closely on cases regarding femicide and the decriminalization of sex work. During her Duke career, Maryam was also able to study abroad. Following her first year at Duke, Maryam spent six weeks in Morocco studying the Arabic language and the sociopolitical development and intricacies of the Arab world through real life experiences and interactions with local scholars and her homestay families. During her junior year fall, she studied abroad in Nepal, Chile, and Jordan on a multi-country program rooted in human rights. There, she was able to advance her advocacy for indigenous peoples through her interactions with living in indigenous communities.

Outside of school, Maryam is passionate about fitness, especially volleyball and running, listening to podcasts, and writing. Maryam was recently named the first place winner for the 2020 Green Eyeshade Awards for Journalism. She enjoys how her articles, usually centered around racial justice, resonate with different people and have taught them more about nuanced topics, such as intersectionality.

Josef Danczuk

Class of ‘23

Josef Danczuk is from the small town of Durham, Connecticut. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 2015, earning High Honors in Political Science and a second degree in History. Josef also completed the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, earning a commission as an Active Duty Army officer upon graduation.

While in the Army, Josef served as an Air Defense Artillery officer and was stationed in Germany. There, he worked alongside various foreign partner militaries and NATO, conducting joint exercises and training. Josef was particularly involved in introducing Swedish and Romanian air defense officers to the Patriot air and missile defense system, a system that both nations are currently acquiring. He has published a number of articles in various military journals, including one on small arms proliferation in Military Review and one on military leadership in the NCO Journal.

As a student at Columbia Law School, Josef continues to serve as an officer in the New York Army National Guard. He plans to focus on international law and hopes to work on areas of arms control, treaties, and international human rights.

Simeon Toronto

Class of ‘23

Simeon Toronto is an Andover, Minnesota native and a 2019 graduate of Brigham Young University, where he majored in Political Science and studied News Broadcasting.

At BYU, Simeon served as Student Body President for the largest private university in the United States. He led volunteering efforts, guided the production of 100+ distinct events for students and community members, directed the Student Life budget, and consulted on scholarship creation. He co-founded the Student Leadership Council and initiated PEN Talks, education, and personal narrative forum series. Simeon was a Model U.N. oratorical champion, constitutional research assistant, and Advisory Council chair.

As a lead anchor for Utah’s Channel 11 Newsline program, Simeon reported headlines, led ad-lib programming, and edited scripts. He served as a Board Member for the Utah Student Association where he represented the interests of 180,000 higher education students. In this role, Simeon actively campaigned to prevent sexual assault and help victims receive proper treatment and access to resources.

For two years in Southern Italy, Sicily and Sardinia, Simeon served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He organized environmental cleaning projects in community parks in Rome and Naples, aided refugees, and taught hundreds of hours of English. Simeon was elected as the United States American Legion Boys Nation President, Youth Champion, and National Convention speaker.

Before matriculating at Columbia Law School, Simeon worked for SAP Qualtrics and a Salt Lake engineering firm. Simeon and his wife Amy welcomed their first child during his first year of law school. He enjoys basketball, tennis, and reading biographies.

Kevin Barbosa

Class of ‘24

Kevin Barbosa graduated from Bard College in 2018 with a B.A. in Political Studies.  At Bard, Kevin served as Speaker of the Student Body and Executive Chair of the Central Assembly. Kevin was honored as a Forbes 30 Under 30 Scholar and received the Dr. James Brudvig Achievement Award for outstanding service to the community throughout his time at Bard. 

Prior to starting his J.D. at Columbia, Kevin worked as an analyst in Goldman Sachs’ Litigation and Regulatory Proceedings Department, where he was responsible for triaging a variety of civil, criminal, and regulatory matters.  During his time in the Legal Department, Kevin was awarded the Excellence in Leadership & Management Award for his leadership on issues of equity and racial justice.  Kevin was selected as a finalist for the Fulbright García-Robles in Mexico City in 2020, but after the scholarship was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kevin joined the Financial Crime Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering group as a strategist for the Investment Banking Division.  Kevin departed Goldman Sachs to participate in the SEO Law Fellowship program in May 2021, and he joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP as an SEO Law Fellow & Summer Associate. 

Kevin is a born and raised New Yorker, and an alumnus of the Prep for Prep leadership development program.

Rohan Naik

Class of ‘24

Rohan Naik is a native of Houston, Texas. He holds a B.A. in History from Yale and an M.A in Public History from Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, where he was a Mitchell Scholar.

At Yale, Rohan was involved with the Asian American Cultural Center, the Yale Daily News, and Yale Outdoors.

Prior to law school, Rohan was a researcher for Amend, a Netflix documentary series on the Fourteenth Amendment. He also worked as a freelance journalist in Northern Ireland, covering politics and terrorism.

In his free time, Rohan is an avid hiker and tennis player.

Luke Cronin

Class of ‘24

Luke Cronin is from Duxbury, Massachusetts and graduated from Boston College in 2014, where he majored in Economics.

Before attending Columbia Law School, Luke helped lead the Pine Street Inn Outreach Team’s daily operations in downtown Boston. Pine Street Inn is the largest provider of services to unhoused populations in New England and the Outreach Team is the largest team in America. Luke helped chronically homeless and unhoused individuals access shelter and substance use supports, receive medical care, obtain housing, and ensured the safety and flourishing of his team members. Before joining Outreach, Luke was the Manager of Volunteer Operations at Pine Street Inn. Notably, Luke and his team helped keep a continuity of services flowing during the pandemic when in-person volunteering was not possible.

Prior to Pine Street Inn, Luke served as a Fulbright Scholar in Gudiyattam, Tamil Nadu, India. Luke taught English at Vidhyalakshmi Matriculation and CBSE Schools. Vidhyalakshmi Schools was founded to help reduce caste tensions in rural Tamil Nadu. Luke helped facilitate community development by establishing after-school clubs and was the first American to live in Gudiyattam. Immediately before his time as a Fulbrighter, Luke was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. Luke taught Economics, Spoken English, and Storytelling to over seven hundred first-generation students at Sichuan Tourism University. Before serving abroad, Luke was a mediator for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and a commercial litigation paralegal for White and Williams LLP.

University of California, Hastings College of the Law

Tori Arnau

Class of ‘23

Tori Arnau (she, her) graduated from Pitzer College in 2018 with a double major in Biology and Asian American Studies. She is a low-income, first-generation college student from Los Angeles. After graduation, she worked in Resource & Program Development at Pilipino Workers Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit in Historic Filipinotown serving the low-wage immigrant Pilipinx community.  Tori is interested in pursuing Labor and Employment Law as it relates to immigrant worker rights and health and safety in the workplace.

Brittany Jackson

Class of ‘23

Brittany Jackson is a law student at the University of California Hastings. Before beginning her journey as a law student, she received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Public Health, from the University of California Merced. Brittany went on to pursue a career in social services in San Francisco, providing services for individuals most vulnerable to socioeconomic inequity. She spent much of her career working for one of San Francisco’s largest essential service providers for individuals experiencing homelessness. Brittany started as a case manager, providing intensive case management to individuals experiencing homelessness, and went on to become a support services consultant for a newly opened Navigation Center Shelter. Brittany then joined the organization’s Impact and Analytics team providing insight to company compliance, performance, while promoting data-driven culture.

Prior, Brittany was a case manager for a community-based foundation providing case management for young women of color. In addition, she helped integrate counseling services for young women of color attending a San Francisco Unified School District alternative school. Brittany also has a history of working for multiple immigration service providers, having a hand in helping hundreds of people receive their employment visas, and aiding in facilitating pro bono opportunities for attorneys. Brittany has a long history of community involvement, advocacy for underrepresented groups, and commitment to public interest. Brittany is devoted to continuing the work she started and intends to use her power as an attorney to relentlessly fight for change.

Isabella Ysebrands

Class of ‘23

Isabella was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. Her father, a firefighter, inspired her to involve herself in public service at a young age. She first became interested in law when she volunteered as a juror for the Santa Barbara Teen Court and joined her high school mock trial team.

Isabella was also interested in health care and attended UC Davis, where she received her Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology. During her time at UC Davis, she interned with the Yolo County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office, assisting deputy coroners and forensic pathologists with death scene investigations and autopsies.

After graduating college in 2015, Isabella worked in the immunoproduction department of a cancer diagnostic company, Agilent Technologies, where she performed cell culture and produced antibodies. Passionate about public service, Isabella later became a deputy coroner for Sacramento County, where she has done her most impactful work to date. As a deputy coroner, she responded to scenes of sudden, unexplained, or violent deaths such as homicides, suicides, motor vehicle accidents, and child deaths. As part of her investigations, Isabella identified the deceased, provided death notifications to legal next of kin, and determined manner of death. Through this role, she provided emotional support and guidance to those facing the worst day of their life.

Isabella’s work as a deputy coroner and her time spent volunteering with people experiencing homelessness motivated her to go to law school. She is a student at UC Hastings School of Law and hopes to use her experience from death investigations coupled with a legal education to make a positive impact on her community.

Outside of school, Isabella loves hiking, surfing, gardening, and watching True Crime documentaries.

Iris Wagner

Class of ‘24

Iris Wagner was born and raised in the East Bay area of California. She graduated from the University of Washington in 2018 where she studied Law, Societies and Justice. Throughout her time at the University of Washington, Iris was involved in various non-profit organizations dedicated to serving low-income and underserved populations.  Iris worked for a non-profit law firm to promote access to education and mental health services to incarcerated individuals. She also spearheaded the Prison Phone Justice campaign that advocated for affordable access to communication between prisoners and their families. Iris has been published in Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News.

Upon graduation, Iris went on eight-month solo backpacking trip through 12 South East and East Asian countries where she engaged deeply with other cultures, working with children in educational settings and developing life-long connections with people and communities across the world.

Upon returning to the United States, Iris worked as a mental health counselor for youth in Oakland and served on the Leadership Council to address agency-wide and racial justice initiatives. Iris’ work as a mental health counselor included facilitating restorative justice circles, and using behavioral and therapeutic interventions to empower and support growth in underserved youth.

Iris’ interests in civil rights, community advocacy, and criminal justice brought her to UC Hastings Law. Iris is serving as a Student Representative with the UC Hastings Public Law Interest Foundation and is involved with groups such as Hastings Prisoner’s Outreach and Hastings Association of Youth Advocates. Iris intends to dedicate her career to underserved communities to promote empowerment and justice in those historically marginalized. 

Outside of school and work, Iris is passionate about traveling to international countries, enjoys playing the piano, and illustrating still-life in her spare time. She enjoys bike rides through Golden Gate Park, cooking, and hosting gatherings with friends. 

Samuel Ruby

Class of ‘24

Sam Ruby was born and raised in Minnesota and grew up playing hockey and singing in choir. He attended the United States Coast Guard Academy where he majored in Government and earned his commission as a Coast Guard Officer.

Sam has served aboard three Coast Guard Cutters that have taken him all over the globe. As a newly minted Ensign aboard CGC SPENCER, he conducted federal law enforcement and search and rescue operations from the North Atlantic to the Caribbean Sea. He was a part of a number of large narcotics interdictions, but Sam’s true passion was enforcing fisheries law, working with fishermen to ensure compliance with safety and catch regulations, and protecting vital living marine resources.

Sam also served aboard CGC ADAK in the Arabian Gulf where he worked under the Navy to counter Iranian influence in the region. His final afloat assignment was in command of CGC WAHOO in Puget Sound where he and his crew conducted search and rescue and environmental law enforcement. Before coming to UC Hastings, Sam served as the Aide de Camp for the Eleventh Coast Guard District Commander, the Admiral charged with command of all Coast Guard operations from Humboldt Bay to the coast of South America.

Sam is still an active duty Coast Guard Officer who will return to the Coast Guard as a JAG after graduation. He hopes to practice environmental law with the Coast Guard and return to sea duty one day to break up his legal assignments. He still enjoys playing hockey and is actively exploring the maritime history of San Francisco.

University of Chicago Law School

Martin Martinez

Class of ‘23

Martin was born and raised in Waukegan, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago, alongside his older sister Alyssa and younger brother Jakob. He attended Brown University for his undergraduate studies and earned a combined Bachelor’s of Arts / Bachelor’s of Science degree in International Relations and Social Analysis and Research.

Martin was also captain of the Varsity Cross Country and Track and Field team at Brown. He is the current school record holder in the Indoor Mile event with a time of 3:59.38 and earned All-American honors during his final year of competition. During his summer breaks, Martin had internship experiences at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and at Abbott Labs.

After graduating from Brown, Martin came back to Chicago and worked at the nonprofit Legal Aid Chicago for two years, through the AmeriCorps VISTA program. In his first year of service, he managed the Pro Se Bankruptcy Help Desk at the Dirksen Federal Building. In this role, Martin assisted pro se bankruptcy debtors as they sought relief from overwhelming debt. In his second year of service, he worked with the senior leadership team at Legal Aid Chicago on a variety of initiatives, including an ongoing campaign to enact a legal right to counsel for tenants facing eviction in Chicago.

Martin is engaged to his fiancée, Erin, and they have plans to marry in the summer of 2022. He is an avid White Sox fan and takes every opportunity to catch a White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Ryan Kokell

Class of ‘23

Ryan is a JD/MBA candidate at The University of Chicago Law School and Booth School of Business.

Prior to graduate school, Ryan served in the United States Marine Corps as a helicopter weapons technician before attending Cornell University where he studied business and real estate at Cornell’s S.C. Johnson College of Business. At Cornell, Ryan lead several student-veteran advocacy groups that focused on veteran integration into higher education.

Today, Ryan continues to assist former service members and their families at the University of Chicago Office of Military-Affiliated Communities. After law school, Ryan would like to pursue a legal career at the intersection of law and business. In his downtime, Ryan enjoys hiking, woodworking, and playing basketball.

Maya Lorey

Class of ‘24

Maya Lorey is a student at the University of Chicago Law School. 

Maya graduated with distinction and Phi Beta Kappa honors from Stanford University with a B.A in Human Biology and a minor in Human Rights. While at Stanford, Maya focused her studies on understanding and addressing barriers that prevent historically marginalized women from exercising their rights to bodily autonomy. She also studied effective philanthropy, particularly trust-based grantmaking to grassroots women’s rights organizations and movements in the global south. After graduating, Maya was awarded an 11-month Ford Fellowship in Philanthropy, which she completed at the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) in New York City. Maya then served as a Program Assistant at IWHC and assisted in making grants to feminist organizations advocating for sexual and reproductive rights in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. 

For the year prior to beginning law school, Maya returned to Stanford to serve as a Teaching and Research Assistant at the Stanford Center for Human Rights and International Justice. Maya is deeply committed to the global movement for reproductive justice. She plans to direct her law career towards dismantling systems of injustice that prevent pregnant people from accessing abortion services and defending the equal rights of pregnant people. In her spare time, Maya continues to volunteer for the Texas Equal Access Fund, an organization that provides funding to low-income people seeking abortion care in northern Texas. 

While not working or studying, Maya is likely reading a work of fiction or trying to pet somebody’s dog. She loves open water swimming in Lake Michigan and eating food prepared by her fiancé, Eren.

Talla Khelghati

Class of ‘24

Talla is a California native and law student at the University of Chicago. She was born and raised in the city of San Jose, in the South Bay Area, and later attended the University of California Los Angeles. At UCLA, Talla studied Economics and Public Affairs. 

As an undergraduate, Talla served as the Vice President of the Iranian Student Group, representing the largest Iranian American student body in the country. She also served as the Chapter President and Southwest Board Representative of J Street U, the student organizing arm of the advocacy group J Street that focuses on Middle East politics. Talla was also a paid research assistant for Professor David Myers, the Director of the Luskin Center for History and Policy, where Talla also served as a research fellow. 

Talla is humbled and excited to join the community of Tony Patiño Fellows-Elect.

Christian Pierre-Canel

Class of ‘24

Christian Pierre-Canel is a student at the University of Chicago Law school. 

A first-generation Haitian American, Christian is from Lehigh Acres, Florida. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Florida in 2015. Christian was inducted into the 2015 class of the University of Florida Hall of Fame in recognition of his leadership and achievement through community involvement and scholarship.

 Prior to beginning law school, Christian spent six years working in the United States Congress. Most recently, Christian served as a Senior Legislative Assistant in the Office of Congressman Al Lawson (FL-05) handling an array of legislative priorities including agriculture, immigration, and defense policies. Christian also worked in the offices of former U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and former Congressman Alcee Hastings (FL-20). Christian is an alumnus of the Bob Graham Center Tallahassee Internship Program, the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Internship Program.

At the Law School, Christian is a member of the Earl B. Dickerson Chapter of the Black Law Students Association and the American Constitution Society where he serves as a representative. Outside of the classroom, Christian is an amateur street photographer, proud Florida Gators fan, and avid concertgoer.