Monday, May 20, 2024

2024 CLEA Awards for Outstanding Clinical and Externship Students: San Francisco's Alondra Saldivar and Monica Chinchilla

Each year, the Clinical Legal Education Association invites law schools to nominate students as their Outstanding Clinic Student or Team and Outstanding Externship student. This series includes submissions from law schools celebrating their outstanding students. 

The University of San Francisco School of Law is proud to recognize two outstanding students this semester with the Clinical Legal Education Association’s Outstanding Clinical Student and Outstanding Externship Student awards. 

Outstanding Clinical Student: Alondra Saldivar

In the Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic Alondra is representing a man from Nicaragua in an asylum claim based on his political opinion and LGBTQ status. Throughout her time in the Clinic, Alondra has demonstrated compassion and flexibility with her client, who was ill and had to cancel several appointments. She put in the time to build trust so that her client, initially hesitant to open up about his life, was able to share. Alondra prepared a detailed declaration for her client and her country conditions research to support the asylum claim was excellent. A consummate team player who is always willing to collaborate, Alondra assisted with countless translations and employment authorization document applications for other clients of the clinic. Additionally, over the past year, Alondra has been active in the Clinic's Unaccompanied Children Assistance Program (UCAP). She personally mentored and counseled three youth who had been arrested for selling drugs. Through her regular oversight over a period of months, the youth thrived; Alondra got them enrolled in school and afterschool programs, and the San Francisco District Attorney's Office ultimately decided to drop all charges. Alondra, along with the other students in the Clinic, also participated in an asylum filing clinic in Sonoma county working to prepare and file over 20 asylum applications with Clinic students and staff for individuals on the Clinic’s waitlist who are approaching the one-year filing deadline for asylum relief.

Outstanding Externship Student: Monica Chinchilla

Throughout her externship, Monica demonstrated high capability, growth mindset, and commitment to professional development. At Tyz Law, a firm primarily specializing in intellectual property protection and enforcement, Monica enthusiastically took on many new projects and showed great passion for learning. Monica’s supervisor found her to always be prepared and able to contribute thoughtful insights. She was also receptive to feedback, actively seeking it out to help improve her abilities. She performed nuanced legal research in many new areas, proving herself to be skilled both at research and analysis and applying the law to clients’ issues. Her work was thorough and insightful. Monica worked especially hard on cultivating a growth mindset, focusing on each new task or skill as a learning experience. In addition to her excellent work, she was highly professional, poised, diligent, kind, and approached her work with a good balance of seriousness and sense of humor. Overall, she demonstrated that she has the tenacity, insight, and intellectual curiosity to be a strong advocate. In the seminar component of the program, Monica put demonstrable time and effort into her contributions to the class, sharing her reflections and stimulating open and inclusive class discussion. Monica was also an outstanding student in the Internet and Intellectual Property Justice Clinic during her second year of law school in Spring 2023.

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