On May 15, 2017, the University of La Verne held its 4th Annual Spirit of La Verne Awards which are awarded to La Verne students, employees, and community members who represent the University’s core values in the areas of civic and community engagement, diversity and inclusivity and interfaith cooperation.
Law student Yunuen Trujillo-Jimenez received the Spirit of La Verne Award in recognition for her community service and social justice advocacy in the Latino, Catholic, and LGBTQ communities.
Yunuen is a social justice advocate working at LA Voice PICO, a faith-based, multi-faith and multi-racial organization. She has worked to pass statewide propositions addressing mass incarceration and funds for education. She has lobbied in Sacramento for multiple state bills and has organized the community in the San Gabriel Valley to fight against illegal checkpoints and advocate for immigration reform. Yunuen has also been involved in Young Adult Ministry and Radio. As a person of faith, she believes fighting for systemic justice is not only a civic duty but a personal calling. Her role in the Catholic Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Persons, an inclusive Archdiocesan Ministry, allows her to speak at the annual Los Angeles Religious Education Congress organized by the L.A. Archdiocese. This conference is attended by 40,000 Catholics from all over the world. There, she teaches about topics relating to LGBT Catholics, highlighting the importance of offering pastoral care that is inclusive and welcoming. Last year, Yunuen created the website www.lgbtcatholics.org in an effort to build bridges in the Catholic Church.
Yunuen works full time while attending the College of Law. Studying law has given her a purpose and has made her a more compassionate and critical thinking human being.
College of Law alumnus Zaira Villagomez, native Houstonian, was recognized for her work as an advocate for Diversity & Inclusivity. She believes that it is much easier to find disagreements among individuals than to find common ground. However, when common ground is established then personal growth is inevitable. Diversity and inclusion both come when people live by the golden rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” As a collaborator, Zaira hopes to break down that wall because she understands that working together as a community is important and makes a group stronger, especially when that community is diverse. As an incoming law student, Zaira was told that she will represent those who cannot speak for themselves. Today, she finds that to hold true by continuing to have a passion to help people who need a voice. As an attorney, Zaira will continue to contribute to her passion by representing all individuals in different areas of the law.
Jacklyn Williams, who received the Engaged Students award, was raised on a farm in central California. Jacklyn studied Economics at UC Riverside where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree, joined Gamma Phi Beta, and realized that she wanted to become a college professor. After graduation, she started her own business so that she would have real world experience to bring to the classroom. She continued her education as a working adult at Cal State Dominguez Hills where she earned her MBA. Jacklyn taught a variety of business classes for a small private college for 3 years before she started teaching English, Math and cultural diversity for a private medical college where she’s taught for more than 5 years. In 2015, Jacklyn enrolled at the University of La Verne College of Law in the part-time program to balance teaching full time with law school. Since she started law school, Jacklyn has joined several clubs, maintained her place on the Dean’s List, and become very involved in her campus and in her community.
Luis Perez was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. At the age of seven, he came to the United States with his family. His parents always volunteered with the Salvation Army. When Perez was 13, his family moved to El Paso, Texas to work with The Salvation Army for a year. During their time there, Perez and his parents visited underprivileged communities to distribute food and help out at the local women’s shelter. Back in California, Perez played football all four years of high school. He loved feeling part of a team and feeling like he belonged. After high school, he began working for his parent’s company and attended Cerritos Community College. Luis married his high school sweetheart and now has two children of his own. After taking a few years off from school, Perez decided to finish his education. He transferred to Cal State Dominguez Hills and got a B.A. degree in English literature. He started Law School at the University of La Verne in 2014 and is graduating this May.
Thomas is the first person in his family to graduate both with a Bachelor’s Degree and Post-Graduate Degree. During his time at the University of La Verne College of Law, Thomas Reynolds has shown and demonstrated interest in serving the community both socially and academically. As a member of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), Tom was one of the members who reached out to Pacific Lifeline (PLL), a non-profit organization that houses and caters to the needs of women who are victims of domestic abuse, with the intention of creating a partnership with the law school. Volunteering at PLL was the impetus for Tom’s interest in a career in public service. Thomas was heavily involved in the La Verne Law Review Symposium in April 2016 where students and scholars from all over the United States were invited to attend panels addressing issues such as mass incarceration and the school to prison pipeline. In April 2017, Tom was instrumental presenting the law review symposium focusing on border issues.