P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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Celine Calpo, 2024

JD, New York University (NYU)

Celine Calpo is the child of immigrants from Philippines

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a JD at New York University (NYU)

Celine Calpo hails from “the most southwesterly city” in the United States—Imperial Beach, California. Her father, Vito, is a former Overseas Filipino Worker who now works as a hotel houseman on the US Naval Base in Coronado (North Island); her late mother, Whelma, was a former fire department dispatcher within US Naval Base Subic Bay and a janitor at Jack-in-the-Box.

Her parents inspired cultural appreciation, intellectual curiosity, creativity, and moxie in many ways: encouraging lessons in Filipino martial arts (escrima) taught by her uncle, Grandmaster Bert Labitan, watching Jeopardy! as a family, and introducing her to photography through an old 35mm film camera. In turn, she assisted her parents in completing government forms, taught them computer skills, and apprised them of developments in American culture and politics.

Celine graduated as salutatorian of Mar Vista High School’s class of 2015 on top of managing her diabetes, caring for her mother through life-threatening illnesses, and navigating college admissions as a first-generation, low-income student. She attended Georgetown University on a full scholarship, was inducted into the Georgetown Scholars Program, and graduated with a BA in American Studies. In college, she interned at the Supreme Court of the United States and the US Senate – experiences that inspired her senior thesis on judicial ethics. After graduating, she set her sights on law school and was supported by the UCLA Law Fellows Program for aspiring first-generation lawyers.

As the program specialist for the International Office of the Federal Judicial Center—the research and education agency for federal courts—Celine manages and writes pieces for a website on comparative judicial practice, Judiciaries Worldwide, and facilitates exchanges between federal judges and their foreign counterparts. She has also taught US and foreign judges computer skills in rule-of-law programs at home and abroad. She hopes to employ the comparative perspective she has gained from her work to improve judicial administration and education in the United States.

Education
  • BA American Studies | Georgetown University 2019
  • JD | New York University (NYU)
Awards
  • The Edward B. Bunn Award for Journalistic Excellence: Commentary, “Holding on to Home”
  • The Rev. Joseph T. Durkin, S.J. Award for American Studies
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