UC Hastings La Raza Law Student Association (LRLSA) announced that 1L Dulce Rodas has been named the 2021 recipient of the Jeanette M. Acosta Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship, which comes with an award of $4,200, honors UC Hastings alumna Jeanette Acosta ’16, who rose to national prominence as an advocate for access to preventive health care for women of color. She died in 2017 after a year-long battle with cervical cancer.
Established in 2019, the Jeanette M. Acosta Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to a UC Hastings IL who demonstrates commitment to social justice, including active support of the Latino community through work or volunteer activities.
In announcing the 2021 recipient, the scholarship selection committee said, “We received many compelling applications and Dulce Rodas’ stood out above the rest. For many years, Ms. Rodas has been active in fighting for immigrant rights, and she is committed to using her law degree to continue her work advocating for and representing immigrants and victims of domestic violence.” She will be recognized as a Jeanette M. Acosta Scholar throughout her education at UC Hastings.
“Growing up in a mixed-status immigrant family, my parents’ immigration status impacted nearly all aspects of our family life,” Rodas said. “When I was younger, my father was deported to Mexico because he was unable to afford legal representation. As an immigration attorney, I will amplify the voices of the Latinx immigrant communities that shape this country but often feel ignored and underserved. I would be honored to carry on Ms. Acosta’s legacy by serving Latinx immigrants, a community that she zealously advocated for throughout her life.”
People interested in supporting the Jeanette M. Acosta Memorial Scholarship can learn more here.
About Jeanette M. Acosta ’16
Jeanette Acosta was a warrior in her fight 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.
As an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, she was an honor student who demonstrated outstanding leadership, including leadership of a fund for low-income students. She later 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.
At UC Hastings, Acosta was a well-known and well-loved member of the community who earned a Student of the Year Award for her scholarly dedication, social justice advocacy, and leadership. She was a Tony Patiño Fellow, student attorney with the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic, student attorney with Legal Services for Children, co-chair of La Raza Law Students Association, and executive notes editor of the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly. In 2016, she authored The Right to Education for Unaccompanied Minors, 43 Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 649, which is especially relevant today.
Acosta 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 graduating from UC Hastings, she served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, District of Columbia Court of Appeals. And she began a career in law and policy on Capitol Hill.
Her cancer diagnosis transformed her into an outspoken champion of preventative care. She wrote that she was heartbroken to find data showing that Black women suffer the highest mortality rate due to cervical cancer and Latinas suffer from the highest incidence rate.
On March 26, 2021, health care champions Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34) introducing the Jeanette Acosta Invest in Women’s Health Act in the United States Senate and House. If passed, this bill will expand funding for preventive health care services with a focus on breast and gynecological cancer screenings, particularly for women of color. It will also create training opportunities for health care providers and initiate research studies on awareness and availability of effective cancer screening options.