Program on Church, State & Society names 2023 summer fellows
The Notre Dame Law School Program on Church, State & Society has awarded summer fellowships to four rising second-year students. This year’s fellows are Alesondra Cruz, Maria Lake, Adem Osmani, and Shideya Parrilla.
The fellowships include a stipend for students to use to gain legal experience working with religiously affiliated organizations during the summer.
Alesondra Cruz will do her fellowship at the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Legal Services and General Counsel.
“I am looking forward to seeing the many ways that law impacts and interacts with church life,” said Cruz. “Through this fellowship, I hope to further discern my vocation and see how my time at Notre Dame can help me better serve the Church and my community.”
At Notre Dame Law School, she is a member of the St. Thomas More Society and the Federalist Society. She will be an assistant rector in one of Notre Dame’s undergraduate residence halls this fall. After receiving her undergraduate degree from St. Edward’s University, Cruz was a fellow at the John Jay Institute.
Maria Lake will also do her fellowship at the Archdiocese of Chicago. She will conduct legal research, as well as assist attorneys with litigation, employment/labor, and immigration work.
“My Catholic faith is a deep part of who I am and why I want to be a lawyer. I wanted to work at the intersection of faith and with the legal work done to support it and broader issues concerning human dignity,” said Lake. “I am excited to gain valuable experience in the public interest sector and further my discernment process for my career.”
Lake received her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame. She is a Student Bar Association representative, and a member of the Women’s Legal Forum, the Public Interest Legal Forum, Jus Vitae, and the St. Thomas More Society.
Adem Osmani will work with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago. As a civil rights law clerk, he will assist with projects that highlight civil rights issues ranging from citizenship delays to securing the rights of Muslims to practice their religion freely in the public sphere, schools, places of employment, prisons, and other institutions.
“I am passionate about supporting CAIR’s mission to empower American Muslims and advocate on behalf of Muslims and others who have experienced religious discrimination, defamation, or hate crimes. I want to defend civil liberties, not only for my fellow Muslims, but for all oppressed identities,” said Osmani. “I look forward to working on civil rights issues as well as providing support to the CAIR-Chicago team.”
Osmani is the incoming president of the American Constitution Society. He is also involved in the National Lawyers Guild and Public Interest Law Forum. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Shideya Parrilla will do her fellowship with the Office of General Counsel for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. She will research issues related to immigration and religious liberty, along with other projects.
“Prior to law school, I had the privilege of serving as a missionary for the Church on college campuses. I now want to use my time and talents to serve the Church in a legal capacity,” said Parrilla. “I hope to grow my research and writing skills, and to tap into the world of opportunities for using my legal education to serve a higher purpose.”
Parrilla will serve on the executive boards next year for the Student Bar Association, the Black Law Students Association, and the St. Thomas More Society. She received her undergraduate degree from American University.
Stefan McDaniel, visiting professor of law and Rodes Fellow for the Program on Church, State & Society, said, “A healthy society requires vibrant religious organizations. Such organizations need quality legal services from professionals with sympathetic understanding of their goals. We are proud to support these talented law students as they both hone their legal skills and use them to serve religious organizations whose missions they passionately embrace.”
The Program on Church, State & Society — in collaboration with the Law School’s larger Religious Liberty Initiative — organizes a variety of opportunities for students, including the fellowship program which seeks to educate young lawyers about the relationship between law and religion. Past placements for summer fellows have included the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities, the Catholic University of America, and the American Indian Catholic Schools Network, as well as archdiocese offices and churches in several cities.