Current recipients of the Tony Patiño Merit Award

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

Columbia Law School

Haris A. Durrani

Class of ‘21

Haris A. Durrani is an engineer, author, academic, and lawyer-in-training born in Norwalk, Connecticut. His parents came to America in the 1960s, his mother from the Dominican Republic and father from Pakistan. They met in New York City.

At Columbia Engineering, Haris was an Egleston Scholar, a Named Scholar for “socially-responsible engineering and applied science leaders whose work results in the betterment of the human condition, locally, nationally, and globally.” Haris majored in Applied Physics, studied space debris with astronaut Michael Massimino and was President of the Muslim Students Association. During this time, he worked on a cheap, lightweight assistive robotic arm for quadriplegics at the Columbia Robotics Lab and on satellites at Boeing Defense, Space and Security. Responding to NYPD surveillance of Muslim students, he cofounded The Muslim Protagonist Symposium on “literature as an agent of social change,” the first major literary conference of its scale for Muslim and allied writers, activists, and academics. Haris grew concerned with the impact of technology on disenfranchised groups, particularly the Latino, South Asian, and Muslim communities he came from.

After graduation, Haris completed a master’s in History and Philosophy of Science at University of Cambridge, interrogating “global humanity” in the international politics of spaceflight. His articles and academic works are taught at Stanford and cited in publications and conferences at Cambridge, Columbia, and elsewhere.

Haris’s book, Technologies of the Self, is taught at Yale and fictionalizes his family’s experiences—with time-travelling space demons. Haris has spoken widely about his work in the U.K. and U.S. and has appeared regularly on NPR. He is winner of the McSweeney’s Student Short Story Contest, and his short fiction, essays, and academic articles have appeared in The New Inquiry, Comparative Islamic Studies, Skin Deep, Catapult, Lightspeed, Media Diversified, Analog, The New York Review of Science Fiction, Buffalo Almanack, and altMuslimah. Buffalo Almanack describes his fiction as “stories about colonialism, neoliberalism, conspiracy bullshit, and a Trumped-out America at the gates of hell.”

At Columbia Law School, Haris focuses on technology and community in public international law. The escalating militarization and commercialization of space activities pose complex challenges about property, law, and sovereignty in the context of surveillance, drones, border security, and debris. Applying legal academia to policymaking, Haris intends to reorient these global concerns to serve communities on the ground, whose stories, as an author, he hopes to tell.

Matthew Beckwith

Class of ‘21

Matt Beckwith was born and raised in Upstate New York. He attended Boston College, studying political science and graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 2016. While at BC, Matt raced for the Men’s Rowing Team, representing the school at the Head of the Charles and three national championships.

After graduating in 2016, Matt went to work in the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence. There he read and responded to the letters of the American people on behalf of President Obama. It was an experience that expanded his sense of compassion and deepened his commitment to public service. Following the White House, Matt was a Policy Fellow at the Center for Data Innovation, where he co-authored a series of white papers and blog posts detailing the importance of data in public policy. Matt acted as a speechwriter for Governor Martin O’Malley and as a legislative assistant in a Washington lobbying firm, advocating for community colleges and local municipalities before Congress.

Matt is currently a 2L at Columbia Law, where he has focused on studying constitutional law with a specific interest in First Amendment issues. After graduation he hopes he hopes to work on First Amendment law, including data privacy, national surveillance, and campaign finance.

Laura Harder

Class of ‘21

Raised in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Laura Harder is a graduate of Princeton University, where she majored in public policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

At Princeton, Laura chaired the Student Volunteers Council, which coordinates over 60 service and volunteering projects.  Laura also co-founded a program for teaching public speaking classes in New Jersey prisons, and was one of two students on a university task force that developed recommendations for making civic engagement more central to the student experience.  After her junior year, Laura interned at the White House in the Obama Administration’s Office of Public Engagement. At graduation, Laura received the Allen Macy Dulles Prize, which is awarded to the Senior who most embodies Princeton’s unofficial motto, “Princeton in the Nation’s Service, and in the Service of all Nations.”

After graduating from Princeton, Laura worked for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice in New York City, where she implemented criminal justice policy reforms aimed at reducing incarceration in New York City jails. Laura primarily focused on the pre-trial population and worked on issues including access to opioid treatment, attorney visitation, and bail reform.

Tanner Lockhead

Class of ‘22

Tanner Lockhead is a Durham, North Carolina native and 2017 Duke University graduate. Before law school, Tanner served as an AmeriCorps Fellow at the Community Empowerment Fund in North Carolina where he led initiatives on legal and employment services for residents transitioning out of poverty and homelessness. Previously, he worked at a DC consulting firm where he handled polling data for several congressional races and worked on mock trials for the SEC and DOJ. Tanner has worked on human trafficking policy at the NC Department of Justice, LGBTQ and campaign finance issues at the Brookings Institution, and HIV/AIDS pharmaceutical patent reform at the Treatment Action Campaign in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2019, he was named a New Leaders Council Fellow in North Carolina.

At Duke, Tanner studied Public Policy and Political Science as a Benjamin N. Duke Scholar and sat on the Duke Board of Trustees. As a Vice President of Duke Student Government, he led a statewide LGBTQ advocacy effort among student-government associations, helped spearhead a new academic program on Durham history at Duke, and secured an on-campus voting site. Tanner was also a varsity debater, Duke Chronicle columnist, and founder of the University’s first LGBTQ-Christian ministry. He studied political philosophy abroad at the University of Oxford. At Columbia, Tanner is a Hamilton Fellow, competitor on the Williams Institute moot court, and President of the Criminal Justice Action Network. He hopes to pursue a career in civil rights law and policy.

Zeinab Khalil

Zeinab Khalil is interested in criminal defense, civil rights, and appellate litigation. She has worked with the Special Litigation Unit at the Legal Aid Society, the Center for Appellate Litigation, the DC Public Defender Service, the Office of the Appellate Defender, and White & Case LLP. She is involved with the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, the Muslim Law Students Association, and the National Lawyers Guild.

Prior to law school, she led a funding portfolio at Open Society Foundations challenging structural racism in NYC’s public systems through partnerships between City commissioners, community advocates, and philanthropic leaders. Before that, she worked as an immigrant rights organizer at the Arab American Association of New York.

Zeinab has a BA from the University of Michigan and an MA from Yale University. In addition to the Tony Patino Fellowship, her awards include the Michigan Alumni Student of the Year Award, the Kathryn Davis Fellowship, the Yale University Merit Graduate Scholarship, and the Google Legal Institute Scholarship.

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 first-year 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 are eagerly expecting the arrival of their first child during his 1L year. He enjoys basketball, tennis, and reading biographies.

University of California, Hastings College of the Law

Shannon Gillespie McComb

Class of ‘21

Shannon Gillespie McComb has been an advocate since she was a young child, fighting for environmental causes in her community.  She has always had a strong sense of justice and vows to continue that into her legal career.  She graduated as a biomedical engineer from the oldest engineering university in the country, RPI, and was a student leader for underrepresented groups, such as veterans, women and the LGBTQ community.  She established a veterans’ lounge and was the recipient of a prestigious student service award, the Willie Stanton Award.  She is honored to join UC Hastings College of the Law, and particularly to become a Tony Patiño Fellow-Elect.  She plans to combine her engineering and law studies as a patent attorney, and later to influence global health policy by using technology to address issues such as environmental sustainability, inclusiveness and poverty.

Loren Hampton

Class of ‘22

Loren Hampton is a first-year law student at UC Hastings School of Law. She will assume the role of Co-President of the Black Law Student Association and member of Hastings’ moot court team for the 2020-2021 school year. Loren has a Bachelors’s in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Masters in Public Health from Berkeley. In between schooling, Loren worked for a leadership development company and focused on Diversity Equity and Inclusion efforts internally and externally. Passionate about serving the underserved, Loren hopes to gain tools in Big law that she can then use in a leadership position at a non-profit or boutique law firm. Loren also enjoys spending time with her loved ones, exercising, and playing with her Chocolate Lab, Huey P.

Ashcon Minoiefar

Class of ‘22

Ashcon Minoiefar is a Juris Doctor candidate at UC Hastings School of Law. Ashcon Minoiefar served as a research intern to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and as an Earl Warren Fellow to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. Ashcon recently founded a UC Hastings Chapter of the American Association for Justice to connect more Hastings students to trial attorneys and their firms.

An alumni of UC Santa Barbara, Ashcon Minoiefar was elected as the student body External Vice President with the student political party he founded, Campus United. Campus united has won a majority in every election since its inception in 2011. As External Vice President Ashcon: organized a grassroots campaign to draft and pass a CA state bill to create the first Special Legislative District in CA since the 1970s, founded the UCIV Volunteer Program which was recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice, successfully lobbied Santa Barbara County to allocate $114,000 for Isla Vista’s first Community Resource Deputy, and drafted UCSB’s first Good Samaritan Policy.

Ashcon’s favorite activity is snowboarding in Tahoe, or as he refers to it, his happy place.

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 first-year Juris Doctor Candidate at the University of California Hastings. Before beginning her journey as a law student, she received her bachelorette degree in Psychology with a minor in Public Health, from the University of California Merced. Ms. Jackson 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. Ms. Jackson 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. She then joined the organization’s Impact and Analytics team providing insight to company compliance, performance, while promoting data-driven culture. Before that, Ms. Jackson 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. Ms. Jackson 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. Ms. Jackson has a long history of community involvement, advocacy for underrepresented groups, and commitment to public interest. Ms. Jackson 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 medicolegal 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 currently a 1L 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.

University of Chicago Law School

Victor Cedeño

Class of ‘21

Victor was born in the Dominican Republic as the second of five boys. He migrated to the United States with his mother at the age of 12 in 2001. They settled in Des Moines, Iowa where the rest of the family joined 5 years later. While in high school, Victor was an accomplished participant in debate and speech, earning various honors at national competitions. He later served as a volunteer debate coach for local high schools.

Victor attended Drake University in Des Moines, and double majored in Political Science and Psychology with minors in Economics and Philosophy, graduating Magna Cum Laude and as a member of Phi Betta Kappa. Immediately after college, Victor earned a Master of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he was honored as a Public Service Fellowship. In graduate school, he led the Harvard Latino Law, Business, and Policy Conference and the Harvard Public Policy Leadership Conference which introduced underrepresented youth to the field of public policy.

Victor Cedeño is coming to the University of Chicago Law School from Minneapolis, Minnesota where he has spent the past 5 years working on education policy for Generation Next, a collective impact coalition in Minneapolis with the mission of closing one of the nation’s largest achievement gaps between white students and students of color. He also served as a Policy Aide to the former mayor of Minneapolis, R.T. Rybak.

Victor has participated in and led multiple local political campaigns. He has served on the board of the Minneapolis Urban Debate League and the International Institute of Minnesota, which settles and serves refugees and immigrants. He was also one of the founding members of the local chapter of the New Leaders Council in the Twin Cities, a leadership program that trains and connects young professionals across the business, non-profit, and government sectors.
Victor lives with his wife, Allie, and his two dachshunds, Willie and Charlie. When he is not working or volunteering, he is cheering for Minnesota sports teams, especially the Vikings. He enjoys dancing, running, skiing, and vacationing back in the Dominican Republic.

Dave Finkel

Class of ‘21

Dave Finkel is a third-year student at the Law School and active in the Law School Veterans student organization. Dave spent the past summer working in Houston as a summer associate with a focus on commercial litigation. During his 1L summer Dave split between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria) and interning for the Honorable Lee H. Rosenthal of the Southern District of Texas (Houston). Prior to law school, Dave served eight years as an infantry officer in the United States Army with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 1st Infantry Division. Dave is originally from Colorado but left to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he studied history and graduated with the Superintendent’s Distinguished Cadet Award. After graduation from law school, Dave will clerk for two years and then make a home in Houston, Texas. Outside of law school, Dave enjoys college football, golf, and equestrian sports.

Claire Lee

Class of ‘21

Claire is from Indianapolis, Indiana and attended Purdue University where she received a Bachelor of Arts with highest distinction in Political Science and Economics in 2018. While at Purdue, Claire was involved in Mortar Board, the Honors College, and Purdue Foundation Student Board in addition to being named Purdue’s Flora Roberts Outstanding Female Student.

Claire is now a second-year law student at the Law School and the Editor-in-Chief of the University of Chicago’s Legal Forum. Additionally, she serves as Vice President of the Law Women’s Caucus and Treasurer of the Labor and Employment Law Society. As part of her involvement with the University of Chicago Prosecution and Defense Clinic, Claire currently works at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois as an extern. Claire spent her 1L summer at Jones Day in Chicago and is planning to spend her 2L summer at Sidley Austin in Chicago focusing on litigation.

Claire lives with her fiancé Deklin. When not studying or working, Claire is likely cheering for her Purdue Boilermakers or sewing, a hobby she has had for over 15 years.

Alexander Beer

Class of ‘22

A New York City native, Alex graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Northwestern University in 2015. While at Northwestern, Alex led incoming students on backpacking trips, organized music concerts for the student body, and taught health classes to Chicago Public School students. Following college, he interned at the American Civil Liberties Union in New York and later worked for over three years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York—first as a paralegal in the Complex Frauds & Cybercrime Unit and later as Special Assistant to U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. Alex has been playing guitar since elementary school and has performed at music festivals such as South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. Alex is a 1L at the University of Chicago Law School and grateful for the opportunity to join the community of Patiño Fellows.

Ryan Kokell

Class of ‘23

Ryan is a first-year 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 servicemembers 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.

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 Bachelors of Arts / Bachelors of Science degree in International Relations (A.B) and Social Analysis and Research (Sc.B). 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 recently engaged to his fiancée, Erin, and they have plans to marry in the summer of 2022. He is an avid White Sox fan and is hoping to find time in the future to escape from the Law School to catch White Sox games at Guaranteed Rate Field once they resume.