UC Hastings Grad Will Represent LGBTQ Asylum Seekers

UC Hastings studen Rosamaria Cavalho poses with San Francisco City Hall in the background
Rosamaria Cavalho ’22 will work with the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, California, helping LGBTQ asylum seekers and immigrants.

Rosamaria Cavalho ’22 said she wanted to attend law school so she could support low-income, immigrant communities, like the one in which she was raised.

Cavalho, who grew up in Hollister and Modesto, California, is the first person in her family to earn a high school and college degree. She said she was drawn to UC Hastings because of its public-interest, internship, and externship programs, “UC Hastings is a place where you are constantly surrounded by so many amazing and talented students and professors. There are endless opportunities to explore professional or educational interests while also contributing to the broader community.”

After graduating in May, she will spend the next year providing legal representation to LGBTQ asylum seekers and immigrants as a California Change Lawyer Fellow with the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, California.

While at law school, Cavalho served as co-chair of the Latinx Law School Association (formerly La Raza) and member of the Women of Color Collective (WOCC). Through the UC Hastings Community Group Advocacy, Individual Representation and Workers’ Rights Clinics, Cavalho counseled clients about their legal rights and provided representation under attorney supervision.

Outside of clinics, Cavalho took part in the San Francisco Bar’s Diversity and Justice Legal Advice and Referral Clinic (LARC) at UC Hastings, the Volunteer Income Taxpayer Association (VITA) and the Hastings Students for Immigrants Rights project.

“These experiences were unparalleled,” she said. “They exposed me to a variety of client needs, allowed me to utilize my multilingual skills and provided an opportunity to think creatively with others, especially when Covid prompted in-person legal counseling services to move online or over the phone. I feel very lucky to have learned so much from many great advocates, professors, and peers alike, while also providing legal support to individuals at such a crucial time.”

She also gained legal experience through internships with the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, the ACLU of Northern California’s Immigrants’ Rights Program, and a judicial externship with the California First District Court of Appeals. “It felt really powerful to take the legal research and writing skills I was developing in the classroom and begin to apply those skills to memorandum and briefs on complex, legal issues, impacting the lives of real people,” she said.

Cavalho’s advice to other law students: “Speak with current law school students, reach out to faculty, clinics or programs of interest and explore annual ‘Day at Law School,’ events such as the one UCH’s affinity organizations host. These opportunities will not only connect you with people of similar interests but also provide you with a better sense of how law school can fit your own unique goals and passions.”