SWLAW Blog | Awards & Honors

Bianca de la Vega holding up award certificate

May 3, 2024

Bianca de la Vega Awarded 2024 Woolverton Family Public Interest Award

Please join us in congratulating 3L Bianca de la Vega on receiving the 2024 Woolverton Family Public Interest Award! 

Established in 2017, the Woolverton Family Public Interest Award is given annually to one graduating student in recognition of demonstrated exceptional dedication to public-interest law activities while at Southwestern. The award is in the amount of $5,000.

Meet Bianca de la Vega

Bianca de la Vega Woolverton Family Public-Interest Award Recipient

Bianca is the daughter of a Filipino immigrant and a first-generation law student. While at Southwestern, Bianca served as Co-Chair of the Public-Interest Law Committee, a fellow in the Moot Court Honors Program, a staffer of Law Review, a Teaching Assistant for Constitutional Criminal Procedure and Torts, an Evidence Research Assistant, and a Dean’s Fellow. Off-campus, Bianca has served as a law clerk for Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County in the Preventing and Ending Homelessness Project, the Federal Public Defender’s Office - Capital Habeas Unit, and Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent. Following graduation and post-bar studies, Bianca plans to continue supporting indigent clients in their most vulnerable times as a compassionate advocate.

We asked Bianca...

What is the most satisfying aspect of public service for you?

Community building is the most satisfying aspect of public service for me. There is a difference between helping others and being in a community with people during their most vulnerable times. When we foster community, we uplift each other.

What have been some of your favorite highlights of your service involvement during law school?

I am grateful to Southwestern for creating so many opportunities to support underserved communities. I loved volunteering with the Homeboy Industries Expungement Clinic, where formerly incarcerated individuals shared their stories and sought to have their records expunged so that they could move forward with their lives without judgment. This year, I had the honor of watching two men get exonerated for a murder that they did not commit. I witnessed over sixty family members fill the courtroom and burst with joy after hearing the judge dismiss the charges against the men. The criminal justice system does not affect one person; it impacts every community member surrounding an incarcerated individual. Injustices to an individual and their community drive me to become a relentless advocate for a client and their community.

What words of advice would you have for future Southwestern students?

My advice to future Southwestern students is to be curious and compassionate! This extends from your workplace to your classmates and faculty. Ask questions, step outside of your comfort zone, and build connections with people who will guide you, challenge you, and support you.

Congratulations on receiving the Woolverton Family Public Interest Award! Feel free to share a personal note with those you’d like to thank for supporting you during your law school career.

I am so grateful to George and Katrina Woolverton for this generous award, which will help me pay for bar fees. I am honored to receive this recognition.

I am indebted to the Southwestern faculty for their endless support and encouragement.

To the Moot Court Co-Directors, Professors Catherine Carpenter and Alexandra D’Italia, thank you for showing me what fearless advocacy looks like. I have grown immensely under your leadership and sharpened my skills to serve indigent clients.

To Dean Oscar Teran, thank you for your unwavering encouragement and support. Your words and belief in me have left a lasting impression. Thank you for always propelling me forward with compassion.

Bianca de la Vega with her family and award
Bianca de la Vega with her family.