Ridgewood, Queens Resident Recognized for His Exemplary Academic Performance and Extraordinary Commitment to Community
New York, NY (March 9, 2016) – National Jurist has named Carlos Valenzuela, a third-year student at New York Law School (NYLS), a “Law Student of the Year.” Valenzuela is one of only 25 honorees selected from more than 200 law schools throughout the United States, and the only student from a New York City based law school. According to National Jurist, the recipients all came to law school for the same reason: to help others navigate the complex world. Carlos was recognized for demonstrating an enduring commitment to public interest law by participating in a variety of programs that serve to enrich the lives of those who may not otherwise have access to legal services.
An outstanding student from Ridgewood, Queens, Carlos was selected to the NYLS Dean’s Leadership Council in his first year.
“Carlos is an exceptional student and advocate, who is well on his way to becoming a foremost attorney in the field of immigration law,” said Anthony Crowell, Dean and President of New York Law School. “We are proud of him and congratulate him on being honored as a Law Student of the Year by National Jurist magazine. He has a deep commitment to law, is extraordinarily kind, and is a leader to his peers at New York Law School.”
In particular, Carlos’ work with the Safe Passage Project, a nonprofit organization connected to NYLS that addresses the unmet legal needs of indigent immigrant youth, stands out. He began volunteering during his first year of law school and has since grown into the position of Justice AmeriCorps Paralegal at the organization. He serves a wide variety of roles including translator, paralegal, law clerk, second chair, counselor, and friend to everyone on the team.
In one instance, he worked with his own family, who emigrated from Guatemala to the United States, to have them apply to become the guardian of a homeless undocumented Latino teen he met while volunteering. That teen soon will be eligible for legal relief as a special immigrant and is likely to obtain permanent status in this country. But Carlos did not stop there. He helped the teen enroll in a GED program and now mentors him, helping him with homework and the transition to life in a new and different country.
“I appreciate New York Law School for believing in me. From the beginning of my law school career, the school community inspired me to work hard and to become an advocate for the indigent community. During my first year, I started to volunteer with the Safe Passage Project housed in NYLS. I was welcomed in, and now like a family, we work together to obtain relief for immigrant children that the government wants to deport,” said Carlos. “I feel immense joy when I see a child obtain his green card because it means he or she will be safe, have stability and a have bright future. It’s personally and professionally satisfying to be part of that process and I definitely see myself continuing to work in the field of immigration. I look forward to a long career helping immigrants and other communities in need of legal assistance.”
Carlos also has volunteered with Kids In Need of Defense (KIND). Traveling to Guatemala, he observed the efforts of KIND’s partners, organizations that work to reintegrate children who were deported back. There he learned that many of the deported children would make the journey all over again because their safety was at risk. This inspired Carlos to continue his work in public interest and make a commitment to help immigrants in deportation proceedings in the United States.
Carlos is active in the Latin American Law Students Association, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and serves as a teaching assistant for first-year students. He was recently selected as a New York State Pro Bono Scholar. Upon graduation he will be serving a prestigious fellowship with the Immigrant Justice Corps.
About New York Law School
Founded in 1891, New York Law School (NYLS) is an independent law school located in the heart of New York City’s legal, government, financial, and emerging tech centers. Known as “New York’s law school,” NYLS embraces the City as its classroom by complementing a rigorous legal education with an innovative and diverse set of “uniquely New York” experiential learning opportunities. Since opening its doors, NYLS has produced graduates who have gone on to hold high elected and appointed office in the City, lead large and small firms, and gain broad recognition as captains of business and industry. Its renowned faculty of prolific scholars has built the School’s strength in key areas of the law, including business and finance; government and public interest; and intellectual property, media, technology, and applied sciences. NYLS has more than 18,000 graduates and currently enrolls approximately 900 students in its full-time, part-time, and Two-Year Honors J.D. programs. The Law School also offers an advanced-degree program in Tax Law. The National Jurist rated NYLS No. 1 for clinical and experiential learning in New York State and No. 13 nationally. It also rated NYLS No. 15 nationally and No. 2 in New York State for its Graduate Tax Program. Readers of the New York Law Journal have ranked NYLS No. 1 for its Graduate Tax Program five years in a row.