2014 – Mary Lou Villanueva

DSC_4283Mary Lou Villanueva, the 2014 CBF Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Scholarship recipient, has long dreamed of becoming a public interest lawyer so she can provide much needed legal assistance to people in her community of Little Village. Having witnessed firsthand her family members’ and neighbors’ struggles, Mary Lou feels a sense of duty as a bilingual speaker to give back and provide affordable counsel to non-English speakers threatened by deportation, fleeing domestic violence, facing mortgage foreclosure, or being exploited in their workplace.

Since college, Mary Lou has demonstrated a passionate commitment to enhance political consciousness and address societal injustice. During her time at Knox College, she founded a student organization called Estudiantes sin Fronteras (Students without Borders). In addition to organizing cultural events to expand political awareness on campus, Mary Lou led a collegiate group on an Alternative Spring Break to Arizona to provide humanitarian aid to immigrants. After graduating from college in 2009, Mary Lou worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer for the Resurrection Project, a nonprofit housing organization in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. She was subsequently hired as an employee by Resurrection Project and spent over four years working as a financial counselor and later as an occupancy specialist. In these roles, Mary Lou provided home mortgage and affordable rental counseling, financial literacy education, and life-changing opportunities to hundreds of people in impoverished communities.

Mary Lou has already proven to be a zealous advocate, and a law degree will enable her to make an even larger impact on the lives of the people in her community. In the fall of 2014, Mary Lou entered DePaul University College of Law as a part-time student and is on the path to realizing her dream. Mary Lou is currently an intern at Latinos Progresando, where she is processing U-Visas and VAWA applications. The Marovitz Scholarship will allow her to focus on the pursuit of a rewarding career in public interest law while easing the burden of law school debt. “I am very grateful for this opportunity, not only for the financial support to pursue my life-long dream of providing legal counsel to underprivileged and marginalized people in my community, but also because it affirms the path I have chosen and encourages me to continue pursuing my dream.”