Part-Time Day Program
Public Interest Law
Monique Moncayo came to law school specifically with the goal of preparing for practice in Public Interest Law.
She grew up in East Los Angeles in a large family that had no history of higher education, and that endured tragedies that were compounded by inadequate legal resources. “From my father’s murderer remaining free to this day, to my brother dying of AIDS from the lack of medicine, knowledge and care, I know what it is like to feel poor, wronged and hopeless,” Moncayo explains, and is determined to become a lawyer to help people who have nowhere to turn for legal help.
Moncayo completed her BA degree in Chicana/o Studies (UCSB), and is earning her JD as a student in the PLEAS program (Part-time Legal Education Alternative at Southwestern) for students with child- or elder-care responsibilities. Her 15-month-old daughter Mia was born during her third year in law school, and she often brings her to events at the campus. Moncayo has also excelled in her studies and earned a place in the Trial Advocacy Honors Program and scholarships from the Mexican American Bar Foundation three years in a row.
Both in and outside of school, Moncayo has immersed herself in a wide spectrum of public interest endeavors and as a result, was the 2015 recipient of the prestigious George and Katrina Woolverton Public Service Award, the highest honor at Southwestern for public interest involvement. She was a certified law clerk at the Children’s Law Center, and a law clerk in the LA County District Attorney’s Office, Sex Crimes Division. Moncayo has served on the boards of the Latino Law Students Association (LLSA) where she is president, and the Public Interest Law Committee (PILC) which she chairs. Through those organizations, it has been her personal mission “to change the school culture by bringing awareness to issues that plague communities of color and close the gap to legal access,” and “to inspire people to care and do good, and highlight their efforts.” She was the recipient of a summer public interest grant (twice) that was “eye opening and life changing,” and works tirelessly as a member of the PILC board that raises tens of thousands of dollars each year for public interest grants so that 20+ students can work at places that “connect real people to justice.” As a leader in LLSA, she also spearheaded the Hoover Elementary School holiday drive two years in a row, providing nearly 1000 disadvantaged youngsters with toys and clothing.
Moncayo has also volunteered for the New Way of Life Expungement Clinic, the Justice Bus to Central California, and the Franklin High School Teen Court. She works part-time in Boyle Heights for the LA City Dept. of Parks and Recreation as a basketball and softball coach for at-risk girls, ages 12-18. Moncayo helped establish and previously served as director of youth outreach for Legacy LA, a nonprofit whose mission is “to positively intervene in the lives of youth offering alternatives to gangs, drugs and violence.”