UC Hastings La Raza Law Student Association (LRLSA) announced that 1L Gabby Sergi has been named the first recipient of the annual Jeanette M. Acosta Memorial Scholarship.
“We received several compelling applications and Gabby’s stood out above the rest,” the scholarship selection committee noted. “She demonstrated being active in fighting for social justice for many years, is accomplished academically, and showed a true commitment to using her law degree to continue her work advocating for and representing oppressed communities.” She will be recognized as a Jeanette M. Acosta Scholar throughout her education at UC Hastings.
Jeanette M. Acosta ’16 died December 18, 2017, after a year-long battle with cervical cancer. Well known and well loved, she was a student speaker along with her partner, Chris Ballard ’16, at the 135th UC Hastings College of the Law Commencement.
“Similar to Jeanette Acosta, my journey to UC Hastings has been inspired by an interest in how I can use my law degree as a tool for social justice and public service,” Sergi said. “My passion for the law stemmed from my experiences as a child of a formerly incarcerated parent, and my identities as a first-generation lesbian of color.
“Although I am still battling impostor syndrome, now I realize I am incredibly privileged to be in a place where I can give back to my communities using their voices, perspectives, and ideas like Jeanette did.”
About the Scholarship
To qualify, students must be Spring 2020 1Ls, a member of the La Raza Law Students Association, committed to social justice, dedicated to the values Jeanette represented, and active in helping the Latinx community through work or volunteer activities during college and/or while a student at UC Hastings.
The recipient, named a Jeanette M. Acosta Scholar, receives an award of $4,750, a portion of which is posted to the student’s account in the spring semester, with the remainder posted in the 2L year.
About Jeanette M. Acosta ’16
According to friends and associates, Jeanette had a tremendous spirit and inspired many people through her unconditional love and support of others. A warrior for social justice, she fought for civil rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, educational equity for Latinos, Latino refugee and undocumented immigrants’ rights, and Mexican farmworkers’ rights.
Jeanette was an honor student at the University of Southern California where she demonstrated outstanding leadership and led a fund for low-income students. Before joining the UC Hastings community, Jeanette earned a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. While at Harvard she expanded her advocacy for undocumented immigrants, particularly DREAMers.
While a student at UC Hastings, Jeanette was a Tony Patiño Fellow, a student attorney with the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic and Legal Services for Children, co-chair of La Raza Law Students Association, and executive notes editor of the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly. Her scholarly dedication, social justice advocacy, and leadership at UC Hastings earned her the Student of the Year Award.
She was a summer associate at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter, & Hampton, in Los Angeles, and a legal extern with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Section, in Washington, D.C. After graduation she also served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, District of Columbia Court of Appeals.