College of Saint Mary junior Samantha Ochoa (Class of 2021) is one of only 290 students across the country selected for the 2020 Newman Civic Fellowship, a one-year experience emphasizing personal, professional and civic growth for students. The fellowship provides a variety of learning and networking opportunities as well as access to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.
A paralegal studies major, Ochoa was awarded the 2020 Newman Civic Fellowship by Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. CSM President Maryanne Stevens recommended her for the award, which honors student leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to finding solutions for complex social and environmental challenges.
“Samantha has continued to grow as a student social justice leader, serving both in Student Senate and the CSM student paralegal association,” said Stevens. “In both of these roles, she has engaged in significant advocacy to advance policy and public opinion regarding the issue of sexual assault prevention.”
Ochoa has an extensive history of involvement in social justice issues. Before going to CSM, she worked to advance equity in higher education as a STEM counseling assistant and receptionist at Los Angeles Community College. Her personal experiences and professional training as a paralegal led her to volunteer in a domestic abuse clinic in Los Angeles in 2019, an experience that confirmed her commitment to domestic abuse advocacy.
“I became involved in advocating for rape and domestic abuse law reform since I witnessed the issues when volunteering in a domestic abuse legal clinic,” said Ochoa. “Hearing so many stories and observing the process of those seeking justice – it just reinforced the fact that we’ve come a long way, but so much reform is still needed.”
On campus, Ochoa is a part of Student Senate as well as the Students Against Violence organization. She continues to get involved in community efforts by contacting the local legislature and hosting “Denim Day” on campus to bring awareness to social and legal issues.
“I’m advocating to change the way the legal system represents victims so that the law can be used as a promising tool to heal victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse.”
The Newman Civic Fellowship is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation. For more information: compact.org/newman-civic-fellowship.