Class of 2021 brings academic achievements, compelling stories to King Hall
In August, UC Davis School of Law welcomed 206 new J.D. candidates in its class of 2021. These first-year students bring an array of achievements, abilities and life stories to King Hall.
Chosen from more than 3,000 applicants, the class of 2021 is diverse and academically accomplished. Students of color compose more than half the class, and women make up 58 percent of it. Thirty percent of the 1L students are first-generation college graduates. The class of 2021’s median LSAT score is 162, and median GPA is 3.63.
Many class members have backgrounds in public service and/or the legal field.
First-year student Justin Stacy worked for 2 1/2 years as a legal secretary for the Contra Costa Office of the County Counsel, in the general law, juvenile dependency and mental health conservatorship divisions.
“I chose UC Davis School of Law because it has such an emphasis on doing public service and giving back to the community,” said Stacy, who received his undergraduate degree in philosophy from UC Santa Barbara. “Also, (UC Davis School of Law) is a very diverse school, so I felt like I would be more comfortable here because there is a wide array of people, and I really value diversity.”
The class comes from near (UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UCLA are the top feeder campuses) and far (21 states and four countries are represented), and in 1L student Maria Walker’s case, from both near and far.
Walker was born in Peru and spent her summers there while growing up mostly in Davis. Her mother, Zoila Mendoza, is a professor of Native American studies at UC Davis, and her father, Charles Walker, is a professor of history on campus.
Walker holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and a master’s in Latin American studies from Stanford, where her focus was on violence against women. She recently spent a week working on behalf of asylum seekers in Dilley, Texas. She would like to work with immigrants again through UC Davis School of Law’s Immigration Law Clinic.
“I was really inspired by what I learned at Stanford, and by what I had seen in Dilley,” Walker said. “And I felt like Davis was the right place to commit myself to public work and public service.”
Here are some other members of the class of 2021:
- Kelly Beskin earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in entomology from the University of Georgia and Texas A&M, respectively. For her master’s, she examined the role black soldier fly larvae play in minimizing odor emissions from livestock manure. She hopes to bridge the worlds of law and science in her career. She volunteers at a cat shelter in Placer County.
- Chicago native Emma Bradley earned a B.A. in political science from Howard University, where she was president of the Swing Phi Social Fellowship Inc. and was inducted into the National Honor Society for Economic Studies and the Honor Society for Political Science Studies. She is dedicated to community service, having volunteered in schools and assisted the homeless and survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.
- Johnathan Chai received an M.S. in electrical engineering from UCLA. He worked as a patent agent at Fenwick & West in the Bay Area. He has coached multiple championship-level high school robotics teams, and co-founded a sports technology start-up in Los Angeles. He also has provided pro-bono services at immigration clinics.
- Originally from Norway, Aysha Majeed received a B.S. in microbiology from Iowa State and moved to Davis from Houston, where she worked as a medical writer and volunteered at a pediatric hospital. She wants to pursue a career in law as it pertains to access to, and quality of, health care. Her sister and brother-in-law are Rabia Reed ’17 and Lars Reed ’17, and she is engaged to fellow class of 2021 member Alex Jurenka.
- Monica Monsalve worked as a community resource specialist assisting high-conflict families in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. She interned in the court’s business litigation division and for the International Rescue Committee and the AFL-CIO. She holds a bachelor’s degree in politics from Oberlin College.
- Abhilasha Pokharel served in the U.S. Army for four years and also worked as a volunteer assisting people affected by the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. She received an undergraduate law degree from Nepal’s Purbanchal University, and an LL.M in human rights law from the University of Essex in England. She worked as an attorney for a year in Nepal.
- Hoang Pham taught elementary school for six years in south Los Angeles and volunteered for the LAPD 77th division’s human-trafficking task force. He has been a competitive break dancer and time-trial race car driver. He holds an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Oregon and a master’s in urban education from Loyola Marymount.
- Austin Turner served in the U.S. military and worked for several years as a cell-phone salesman. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from UC Davis. He is an alumnus of the King Hall Outreach Program, and is the first student admitted to UC Davis School of Law through the California State Bar Community College Pathway to Law School program.