Commitment to Social Change: Center for Social Justice Scholars Program (2021-22)
By Lori Borgen
Director of the Center for Social Justice and Associate Clinical Professor
Each year, the Center for Social Justice selects students from those who have completed their first year of law school to serve as CSJ Scholars. Candidates must demonstrate a commitment to social change and an interest in pursuing a career in public service, including legal services, criminal defense, law reform, and other positions that expand access to justice. The Scholars, who serve until graduation from Seton Hall Law School, are supported and encouraged in pursuing a range of public interest opportunities.
Meet our Current CSJ Scholars
Appointed in 2021-2022
Sam Jerabek ’23 grew up in central Nebraska and majored in criminal justice at York College. After graduating, she spent two years working at the United States Senate as a Staff Assistant.
She was then led to Seton Hall Law by her desire to create systemic criminal legal reform through policy and direct representation of indigent clients. Jerabek said, “Seton Hall Law is on the forefront of public interest and social justice; the faculty and staff at the school embody a commitment to social change and I have been so fortunate to benefit from the mentorship of skilled advocates and dedicated change makers.”
During Jerabek’s first year at Seton Hall, she served on the Student Bar Association and was a finalist in the Ronald J. Riccio First-Year Moot Court Competition. As a member of the Moot Court Board at Seton Hall Law, she will participate in national moot court competitions. Outside of law school, Jerabek volunteered as an English Second Language Civics teacher to help prepare individuals who were going to take the United States Citizenship test, and as a Reentry Coach, where she reviewed resumés and cover letters and served as a mentor and resource for individuals who were being released from state prisons in Nebraska.
During the summer of 2021, Jerabek served as a legal intern with the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender in Union County. “My time with the Union County Office of the Public Defender solidified my desire to become a public defender.” said Jerabek. “The attorneys in the office were zealous advocates for individuals who had been largely abandoned by society, fiercely committed to reforming the criminal legal system, and they employed a holistic model of client representation that was second to none.” Inspired by her summer internship and determined to work for organizations committed to eliminating racist and classist policing, prosecution, and incarceration, Jerabek served as a legal intern at New York County Defender Services in the fall and as a legal intern for the Federal Public Defender for the District of Columbia in the spring. This summer, she will complete an internship with Brooklyn Defender Services.
As a CSJ Scholar, Jerabek is looking forward to learning to use disruptive lawyering skills to interfere with power relationships that perpetuate systemic injustices. Jerabek also plans to partner with the CSJ to host “Know Your Rights” trainings in communities that are historically overpoliced.
Florencia Marino ’24 is an immigrant from Uruguay who arrived in the United States when she was five years old.
Growing up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Marino was surrounded by a diverse community that taught her about other cultures and provided a first-hand look into the struggles of minority communities, especially the undocumented immigrant community. As a former undocumented immigrant herself, Florencia has experienced what it is like to live in the United States without status and the adversity that comes with it.
After graduating from high school in 2012, Marino was able to enter the work force once the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program was established that same year under the Obama Administration. The DACA program provides undocumented applicants, who were brought to the United States as children, with the right to remain in the United Sates and work legally but does not allow them to receive federal or state financial aid to further their education. Marino obtained valuable work experience while striving to find a way to continue her education. In 2014, Florencia was awarded a full merit scholarship by The Dream.US, an organization that seeks to provide DACA recipients, “Dreamers,” with financial assistance to further their education.
Marino attended Purdue University Global, graduating magna cum laude in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree, she worked full-time, beginning a career in the financial industry in 2015 at a banking institution. She rose through the ranks starting as a teller and progressed to become a branch manager in just three years, at the age of twenty-three. As a branch manager, Marino was able to develop significant skills in leadership, management, and community relations. She supervised a team in an office setting, which provided financial services to clients, trained current and new employees on operational and sales skills, and built relationships with the community, making connections with local business owners and participating in public events. Marino then transitioned into the company’s compliance department, where she worked as a BSA (Bank Secrecy Act) Investigator, tracking account transactions, escalating suspicious activity, and ensuring compliance with all Federal and State banking regulations. Today, Marino has transitioned into the legal field as a paralegal at a small criminal defense and family law firm.
Marino’s personal experience as an immigrant and her love of learning is what led her to Seton Hall Law. She plans to focus on criminal and immigration law and hopes to have an impact on immigrant and minority communities like her own. “I want to do all that I can to help others navigate our immigration system and be a part of changing it for the better in the years to come. I want to provide to others the help and support I wish my family and I had while I was growing up. I believe my own upbringing and experience as an undocumented immigrant will help me connect on a deeper level to the very communities I seek to help and support.”
As a 2L in the Weekend Program during the 2021-22 academic year, Marino served as the SBA Representative for the Immigration Law Society, the SBA and Diversity Committee Representative for the Non-Traditional Law Student Association, as well as the Weekend Liaison for the First-Generation Law Student Association. She also served as an Extern for the Detention and Deportation Defense Initiative of the Immigrants’ Rights/International Human Rights Clinic at the Center for Social Justice. In her Appellate Advocacy course, Marino was recognized for delivering the best oral argument for the appellant.
Marino prides herself on the non-traditional route that her professional and educational life has taken. “I have come to embrace my non-traditional path as my own unique timeline, where I have been blessed with opportunities beyond what I thought was possible.”
As a CSJ Scholar, Marino is excited to connect with fellow students and faculty to learn how to contribute to a variety of public interest issues throughout her time at Seton Hall Law and beyond.