Third-year Willamette Law students Gaby Perez-Mendoza and Bailey Moody each received $1000 Armonica Grants from the Oregon Women Lawyers Foundation (OWLS) on Nov. 4.
Armonica grants are awarded to six third- or fourth-year students annually, with two recipients from each of the three Oregon law schools. They are offered in honor of late Foundation Board member Armonica Gilford, who was the Oregon Department of Justice’s first African-American female assistant attorney general. She was known for serving as a mentor to many law students and lawyers.
The grant recipients must demonstrate a commitment to the Foundation’s goals through their personal volunteer or educational experience. In addition to the grant, students are matched with a female judge or attorney who serves as their mentor for the year.
Perez-Mendoza said she applied for the grant because she identifies with the mission of OWLS and it and Gilford's commitment to public service. Perez-Mendoza was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was 12. After experiencing constant racism, she said she decided to pursue becoming an attorney. While attending Northern Arizona University, she said she came face-to-face with the historic and contemporary issues of indigenous peoples. She realized then that she wanted to focus her passion for the law on helping indigenous populations protect and expand their rights under the U.S. Constitution.
"I am deeply committed to advocating for the rights of indigenous peoples and immigrants," Perez-Mendoza said, "and I am confident that this grant and mentorship associated with it will be instrumental in my path to achieving that goal."
About Willamette University College of Law
Opened in 1883, Willamette University College of Law is the first law school in the Pacific Northwest. The college has a long tradition at the forefront of legal education and is committed to the advancement of knowledge through excellent teaching, scholarship, mentoring and experience. Leading faculty, thriving externship and clinical law programs, ample practical skills courses, and a proactive career placement office prepare Willamette law students for today's legal job market. According to statistics compiled by the American Bar Association, Willamette ranks first in the Pacific Northwest for job placement for full-time, long-term, JD-preferred/JD-required jobs for the class of 2014 and first in Oregon for the classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014. Located across the street from the state capitol complex and the Oregon Supreme Court in downtown Salem, the college specializes in law and government, law and business, and dispute resolution.