On July 27, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund named recent Fordham alumna Lorena Jiron ’17 as one of its 2016–2017 Law School Scholarship Program recipients.
A civil rights organization that pursues litigation concerning a range of issues pertinent to Latinos in the United States, MALDEF uses its Law School Scholarship Program to recognize law students whose work furthers the organization’s mission.
“MALDEF looks at any kind of legislation or policy that seems to be targeting Latinos, or else is disproportionately affecting them, and they fight back,” says Jiron. “If I were to have a dream organization to work for, I think it’s that one.”
Jiron’s nascent career suggests that the pair would complement each other nicely.
The daughter of a single mother who immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua, Jiron grew up in Miami, where she excelled academically and earned admission to Middlebury College. Shortly after Jiron graduated from Middlebury, her mother passed away. The ensuing legal complications, and the sense of helplessness they engendered, convinced Jiron to pursue a career in law.
While at Fordham, Jiron has developed professional credentials in keeping with her ambition to practice law in the public interest. A Stein Scholar and board member of Fordham’s Latin American Law Students Association, Jiron has advocated for the rights of immigrants and women both inside her academic work and without. She has pursued the cause of equal civil rights while interning with the New York Legal Assistance Group, NYC Legal Services, and the NAACP-LDF. While in law school, she helped conduct fieldwork in Cuba concerning the future of U.S.-Cuban relations and was instrumental in bringing the Metro Latin American Law Student Association’s Pa’lante conference to the Fordham campus. Prior to attending law school, she furthered the cause of obtaining equal rights for women by teaching at a girls-only boarding school in Kabul, Afghanistan.
At present, Jiron is an Equal Justice Works Fellow pursuing an initiative she developed on the safety and wellbeing of young women suffering from intimate partner violence.
The post-graduate fellowship from Equal Justice Works provides funding, training. and guidance for attorneys pursuing public interest work. “My sponsors are Verizon Wireless and DLA Piper, and my project is the ‘Single Mother Empowerment Project,’” says Jiron. “The project will be at Day One, which is an organization in New York that works with young people who are victims of intimate partner violence.”
Jiron intends to continue her work in the public service field.
“With the current political situation and the way immigrants are treated, there’s just such a need for, at the very least, Spanish-speaking attorneys,” says Jiron. “I have all the legal skills that Fordham has given me and I have the cultural competency, I have the language competency. I just think that this is where I need to be right now.”