Columbia Law School Latino/a Law Student Association Recognizes Two Distinguished Alumni

Student Organization Recognizes Achievements of Roland Juarez '92 and Hector Villagra '94

New York, November 11, 2012—The eighth annual Columbia Latino/a Law Student Association (LaLSA) award banquet drew more than 150 alumni, faculty, staff, students, and supporters at the Columbia Club in midtown Manhattan. The 50-plus member student group's tradition recognizes graduates whose achievements have brought distinction to Columbia Law School and the Latino community.

Roland Juarez '92 giving his acceptance speech

The festive Oct. 18 evening featured cocktails, dinner, and the presentation of LaLSA's awards to two accomplished Latino individuals: Roland Juarez ’92, a partner with Hunton & Williams in Los Angeles and Dallas, who specializes in employment and labor law; and Hector Villagra ’94, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California—the first Latino to hold that post.

In accepting the award, Juarez encouraged students to pursue the area of law that interests them most. His speech turned personal when he reflected on the struggles he faced moving from a small New Mexico town to attend Columbia Law School. He credited his success to the constant encouragement and support he received from his wife, Melissa Blackwelder-Juarez.

Rosa Indenbaum with Hector Villagra '94

Villagra spoke about how his personal background as the son of immigrants and the first in his family to attend college and law school inspired him to dedicate his career to public interest law. While in New York to accept his award, he volunteered his time to meet with students as the Fall 2012 Social Justice Initiatives Visitor from Public Interest Practice.

The banquet’s success was due in large measure to the efforts of the Columbia LaLSA leadership and banquet chairs: Rosa Indenbaum’14; Dana Campos ’14; Yamilet Echeverria’14; Stephanie Grajales’14; and the 2012-2013 LaLSA Executive Board; and the rest of the organization. LaLSA received support from the Dean of Students Office, Social Justice Initiatives, and the office of Career Services and Professional Development.

LaLSA sttudent leaders, left to right: Yamilet Echeverria, Miguel Gradilla, Rosa Indenbaum, Dana Campos, and Stephanie Grajales

LaLSA sponsors academic, cultural, social, and community service activities to promote understanding of the Latino community. It also works to increase the number of Latino/a students and faculty at the Law School and to ensure that students receive the necessary support to achieve academic and professional success.