From left: Taylor Rogers, Genesis Aguirre Guerra, Robert Ward, Nija Bastfield

Four UDC Law students were chosen for the 2022 Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship Program this summer. Nija Bastfield, Genesis Aguirre Guerra, Taylor Rogers and Robert Ward participated in unpaid public interest summer law positions funded through grants from the John Paul Stevens Foundation.  

The Foundation partners with 38 law schools to operate and fund the program, and the four UDC Law students selected this year join more than 600 students funded by the program since its founding.  

“We are greatly appreciative of this collaboration with the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law,” said Executive Director of the John Paul Stevens Foundation Julia R. Wilson. “It is an honor to be able to play a small role in supporting the law school’s outstanding public interest law students in their important work over the summer and as they pursue legal careers in public service.” 

Law students are eligible for the Stevens Fellowship if they are currently enrolled at a participating law school, and they must arrange a full-time unpaid summer public interest law internship with a nonprofit organization or governmental agency. The schools locally administer the selection process, which requires a written application that demonstrates a strong interest in public interest and social justice law, excellence in academics and financial need. 

Founded in 2010, the John Paul Stevens Foundation seeks to build a more just and equitable society. As a living tribute to Justice Stevens, the Foundation works to protect and promote democracy and the rule of law, access to justice and equality by supporting law students, lawyers and others working in the public interest. The Stevens Fellows’ public interest service continues Justice Stevens’s lifelong dedication to improving the justice system. 

Meet UDC Law’s Stevens Fellows

Nija Bastfield

Nija Bastfield

New York County District Attorney’s Office, New York, NY 

Nija Bastfield (she/her/hers) is pursuing a legal career dedicated to addressing injustice and providing opportunity by becoming a federal prosecutor and a judge. She hopes to stay committed to advancing diversity in the profession through several mentoring and assistance projects, including serving as a mentor to UDC Law students, establishing a scholarship to assist women in the evening program and creating a nonprofit to increase opportunity for evening law students.

Bastfield has been active in the Baltimore City community since 2014 with an emphasis on helping residents prepare resumes and job applications through her resume and grant writing business All Things Paper. She will continue serving the community by providing pro bono legal services in at-risk neighborhoods. 

Bastfield is the Student Bar Association President, a Writing Mentor for the UDC Writing Hub, Themis Student Representative, member of the National Black Prosecutors Association and UDC’s Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. She graduated from the University of Baltimore with a master’s in Public Administration and a master’s in Legal and Ethical Studies. She received her Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies from Stevenson University. She has worked as a Legal Intern with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., Legal Intern with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, a Management Assistant with the Federal Aviation Administration, a Law Clerk with the Law Office of Barry R. Glazer, P.C., Head Law Clerk in the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City and a Summer Law Fellow in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. 

Being selected as a Justice Paul Stevens Fellow has been such an honor. This foundation invested in me and places me in a position to continue investing in others, helping indigenous people have access to justice and promoting equality.

Nija Bastfield

Genesis Aguirre Guerra

UCLA Center for Immigration Law and Policy, Washington, D.C. 

Genesis Aguirre Guerra

Genesis Aguirre Guerra (she/her/hers) was born and raised in Reno, Nevada. The eldest daughter of Guatemalan parents, she was separated from her family because of their immigration status. This left an impression on the then 12-year-old, sparking her determination to become a public interest immigration attorney.  

Aguirre Guerra graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a bachelor’s in International Affairs and Psychology. While in college, she volunteered at citizenship fairs with a local nonprofit. She was a legal assistant to local attorneys after she graduated, where she saw many immigrants in need of legal help because of their status. This further cemented her interest in immigration law, and she chose to attend UDC Law to meet the need for immigration attorneys in Nevada. 

She consistently seeks opportunities that align with her goal. In 2021, she was a Summer Fellow at the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. There, she worked as a student attorney, assisting clients in immigration cases and employment discrimination cases. In December 2021, she volunteered with Associate Dean of Clinical and Experiential Programs Lindsay M. Harris and other students to help Afghans at a military base in Virginia. In her current fellowship at UCLA’s Center for Immigration Law and Policy, she is working on research for policy proposals and aiding in research for impact litigation. 

I am thankful to be a Stevens Fellow because they allowed me to keep pursuing public interest work and serving my own community.

Genesis Aguirre Guerra

Taylor M. Rogers

The Safe Sisters Circle, Washington, D.C. 

Taylor M. Rogers

Taylor M. Rogers (she/her/hers) is a rising third-year law student from Prince George’s County, Maryland. In 2018, she graduated from St. John’s University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, summa cum laude. 

During the Spring 2022 semester, Rogers worked as a student attorney in the UDC Law Legislation/Civil Rights Clinic where she completed policy training and field experience representing nonprofit organizations related to researching, negotiating and drafting options for public policy development. She is also a student worker in the UDC Law Library and a member of the Black Law Students Association. 

Rogers is interning as a law clerk with The Safe Sisters Circle, a nonprofit focused on providing free, holistic and community-based legal services to Black women survivors of domestic violence in Washington, D.C. 

After graduation in 2023, Rogers will remain in the Washington, D.C., area and plans to work in family law with a focus on prenuptial and divorce work. 

“The Stevens Fellowship has allowed me to use the legal skills I have learned at UDC Law to provide direct legal services to women in the communities I hope to serve in the future. The Stevens Fellowship has also allowed me to build my network through engaging workshops with current and future lawyers.”

Taylor m. Rogers

Robert Ward

Office of the Public Defender for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, Arlington, VA 

Robert Ward

Robert Ward (he/him/his), a Mississippi native with a background in investigative journalism, enrolled in law school after he was wrongfully arrested and acquitted for a crime he did not commit, seeking to represent people who do not have resources to hire an attorney.   

A rising third-year law student at UDC Law, Ward is a legal intern this summer at the Office of Public Defender for Arlington County and City of Falls Church. As a legal intern, Ward has represented clients for bond hearings, researched legal issues for criminal trials and represented clients at trial.   

Immediately prior to law school, Ward completed two terms of AmeriCorps service with Reading Partners DC, where he led volunteers to tutor elementary school students behind in reading skills.   

Ward’s journalism experience includes news organizations in Mississippi, Pennsylvania and South Carolina as well as with online news service organizations. In Mississippi, Ward’s investigation of a rural water association resulted in a Department of Labor investigation ending in employees receiving thousands of dollars in uncompensated back pay. Also of note, Ward’s appeal of a denied public records request resulted in the Mississippi Ethics Commission ruling in a first-impression case that text messages of public officials about public business qualify as public records.   

In 2008, the Starkville Rotary Club in Mississippi selected Ward as Citizen of the Year for creating and directing the Johnny Cash Flower Pickin’ Festival, a three-day community event that emphasized themes of forgiveness and redemption.   

Ward has a bachelor’s degree in English literature and journalism from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Mississippi State University.   

“I’m now connected to a network of legal professionals with shared values and professional goals to represent the public and the most vulnerable in society. This allows me to tap into their experiences and knowledge when pursuing related legal work and connect with a larger support system of legal advocates.”

Robert WarD

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