From helping domestic violence survivors to supporting at-risk youth and undocumented immigrants, UC Hastings Law student Raquel Grande, JD ’24, has spent most of her adult life fighting for social justice.
This year, Grande was awarded the Jeanette M. Acosta Memorial Scholarship, named after a 2016 Hastings alumna who fervently advocated for the rights of marginalized people. Acosta died in 2017 after a year-long battle with cervical cancer.
“This recognition means a lot to me,” Grande said. “I’m deeply appreciative of the financial support, but also grateful to the Acosta family for their belief in my potential and for entrusting me with Jeanette’s memory.”
To qualify for the $5,000 scholarship, a student must be a member of the UC Hastings Latinx Law Students Association. The student must also demonstrate a commitment to social justice and have done work that supports the Latinx community.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Grande started advocating for others at a young age. As a child, she urged her mother – a single parent and Salvadoran refugee – not to be bullied at work over fear of losing her job, “I encouraged her to speak to her union rep and reminded her that she had rights as a worker. Being an immigrant and someone not fluent in English did not deprive her of those rights.”
As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, Grande worked with several public-interest groups, including a children’s shelter in Kenya, a youth mentorship program in Solano County, and a Berkeley-based immigrants’ advocacy group, where she helped people navigate the complex U.S. immigration system.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in social welfare, Grande continued to pursue social justice causes. She worked with the Obama Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area, and the Jenesse Center in Los Angeles, where she supported domestic violence survivors, sometimes accompanying them to court as they testified against abusive partners.
“Time and time again I realized that being an advocate in general was something that I was good at and enjoyed,” she said. “That was why I felt law school was the logical next step for me.”
Aside from the Acosta Scholarship, Grande has also received financial awards from the UC Hastings Legal Education Opportunity Program, Bar Association of San Francisco, California ChangeLawyers, and a Diversity Scholarship sponsored by the law firm Wilson Sonsini.
Over the summer, Grande interned at the law firm Meyers Nave, where she worked in public law, labor and employment, trial and litigation, and land use. This year, she will serve as staff editor of the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly.
Grande said she’s excited to find more opportunities to broaden her experience, “I’m looking forward to being more involved in the Bay Area community through volunteering and participating in a social justice clinic at UC Hastings this spring.”