The National Jurist - Spring 2017 - 20
However, her children witnessing such
violence was too much for her to bear.
So, she organized a Stop the Violence,
Increase the Peace rally in her southwest
Washington, D.C., neighborhood last
"I like to advocate," she said. "I want
to improve my neighborhood. My family
is here. My friends are here."
She's the first in her family to graduate
from college, and she has no intention of
moving when she finishes law school.
"Why go someplace else?" she said. "I
want to make thing better here. I hope
someone will one day see me as inspiring."
Her day job is as a courtroom clerk at
the District of Columbia Superior Court.
At night, she goes to Catholic University
classes. In between, she does a ton more.
In the fall of 2016, Rasheed organized
a back-to-school carnival so local elementary students would have school supplies. Other Catholic University students
helped by donating and sorting supplies.
More than 200 families attended the
school's annual Community Service Day
to receive the bounty. Haircuts, shoes,
uniforms, free immunizations, dental
screenings and school registration were
"Some of these children are my children's friends," she said. "Some don't have
the basic necessities in which to succeed."
Last year, she was invited by House
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to speak
at a press event calling for rejection of
the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization
bill, because the version before Congress
"For some kids, the only decent meal
they get is at school," Rasheed said.
She also organized a Record Sealing
and Expungement Fair in partnership
with the Catholic University Law Pro
Bono Program and the Neighborhood
Legal Services Program. Many people
convicted of petty crimes don't realize
they can get their records expunged, she
said, and that can hold them back from
jobs or buying homes.
Her law school career has seen roadblocks. In 2015, her mother died, which
was debilitating in a number of ways.
Her mom had been supportive of her law
school career and would help watch her
Her grandmother, now 96, has been
an inspiration, Rasheed said.
"Education was very important to
her," she said. "And she helped in the
community as well. She committed herself to commit."
Obviously, it runs in the family.
n Luis Canales, Villanova University
Charles Widger School of Law
n Sarah Saint, Wake Forest University
School of Law
n Yvette Pappoe, University of
Maryland Francis King Carey School
n Danielle Desaulniers, University of
Virginia School of Law
daniel "danny" oquendo,
class of 2017
officials if a student exits.
Yet, so much more needs to be done,
Oquendo said. Better educational and
career opportunities for people with disabilities are needed.
"I'm not playing the blame game,"
he said. "I want to stay positive to bring
Oquendo thought about going to law
school after graduating from University of
Maryland, where he played football. But
he was worried about the expense.
That concern is now off the radar.
He is driven. He interned with Gary
Mayerson, an attorney who specializes in
helping children with disabilities, who
helped persuade Oquendo to attend law
INCLUDEnyc, a nonprofit that works
to improve access for young people with
disabilities, recently honored Oquendo.
He was given the 2016 McGuire Family
New York Law School
Danny Oquendo has a
full-time job and two
children under the age
of 3. So, yes, trudging to
law school at night is no
But he is driven.
His little brother,
Avonte, who was severely autistic, walked out
of his high school in
Queens in 2013 and disappeared.
Days went by. Then
weeks went by. Then
months. A frantic search
by family, friends and volunteers turned
Three months after the 14-year-old's
disappearance, his remains were found in
the East River. The condition of the body
was so poor that a cause of death could
not be determined.
So, yes, Oquendo is driven. He wants
to become a legal advocate for those with
"So many people just write them off,"
In the wake of Avonte's death, a law
was passed in his name to make schools
safer for those with disabilities. Schools
must have alarms on their doors, alerting
The NaTioNal JurisT
Advocacy Award, which honors those
who have demonstrated an outstanding
dedication to serving young people with
And, remember, he's still a law student.
n Lorena Jiron, Fordham University
School of Law
n Cherina Clark, Suffolk University
n David Ourlicht, City University of
New York School of Law
n Katherine Fahey, Boston
University School of Law