Leader: Law student brings 'diverse lens' to legal studies

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Law student Evelyn Galván is from Southwest Detroit and a proud child of immigrants who hail from a rural area in Guanajuato, Mexico. 

“They lived very humbly. They did not have access to education after grade school, yet they never stopped searching for a better life for our family,” she says. “My parents instilled in me a love for education and told me that through school, I could fulfill my dreams.

“My older siblings were born in Mexico, and I was born in the U.S. The fact I was born on a different side of a border changed my life trajectory. Since a young age, I was an advocate for my family and community. I would often translate for my family members and offer support in other ways. I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer. I’m also interested in the history of U.S.-Mexico relations and would enjoy working in foreign affairs.” 

In middle school at Hope of Detroit Academy, Galván was recruited to “Yes for Prep” that offered Detroit students a rigorous academic program to prepare and apply for independent high schools. Thanks to that program, she was able to attend the prestigious Detroit Country Day School for her high school studies. 

“That experience exposed me to how a zip code can create ‘two worlds’ when it comes to educational opportunities,” she says. “Because of organizations and programs, I’ve been able to succeed in spaces that were not meant for people like me. However, I want to challenge the status quo to have attorneys represent the communities they live in and the people they serve.” 

Galván earned her undergrad degree at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy, with a focus on education and immigration policy and a minor in Latino/a studies. 

“While in college, I was a part of organizations that addressed social identities and educational access,” she says. “I became a sister of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. because I wanted to be part of the first Latina sorority in the country to continue to create a sense of belonging for women like me at the University of Michigan.” 

She received several awards and honors, including the Promising Youth Legacy Scholarship from the Coleman A. Young Foundation for future leaders of the City of Detroit; and Outstanding Poster Award from the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP)  for a research poster on educational access for undocumented students in higher education given to the top 10 percent posters out of 500; a book award from Colgate University for her community service efforts; and won a scholarship pageant from a Mexican-American civil rights organization for a speech on the injustices of the current immigration system and how it affects society as a whole. 

She also spent five months as an Immigration Policy Intern at the Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington, D.C. and was published in an article “Immigration Polling Roundup” on the CAP website and in Think Progress.

After U-M graduation, Galván worked professionally for seven years supporting people in crisis. She worked as a paralegal with an immigration lawyer in Ann Arbor and at a legal aid office in Washtenaw County. 

“I was fascinated by lawyers’ ability to offer representation to those that need it most,” she says. 

In Detroit, she worked at SER Metro’s after-school program that focused on supporting Detroit youth with mentoring, leadership training, and career guidance and coordinated the summer youth employment program called Grow Detroit’s Young Talent. She also was a college adviser at Ypsilanti New Tech High School.

“I’ve focused on working with youth to inspire them to believe in themselves and their possibilities,” she says. 

She earned a master’s degree in higher education from Eastern Michigan University.

“I view education as a ‘true equalizer—yet, I know talent is equally distributed, but what is not equally distributed is opportunity, and I used my master’s in higher education to explore those issues,” she says. 

After earning her master’s degree, Galván became a staff member at U-M, where she directly addressed difficult topics of discrimination. She worked at the U-M Dean of Students Office supporting students experiencing incidents of bias and offering resources to students going through critical incidents; and then transitioned to a role as a Senior Investigator with the Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office. 

“I conducted interviews, reviewed evidence, and analyzed the elements of the anti-discrimination policies,” she says. “The work trained me to effectively communicate, write analytical reports, and importantly taught me to creatively utilize resources to address problems without clear answers.”  

Now a rising 2L at Detroit Mercy Law, Galván appreciates its location in the heart of the Motor City. 

“After class, I can go visit my family or can quickly stop and pick up some delicious tacos in Southwest Detroit,” she says. “U of D Mercy has also been a great fit because it’s a smaller, supportive environment. I’m still amazed every time I get an individual email from a staff member wishing me luck on finals or referring me to an opportunity. I’m supported and believed in at Detroit Mercy.

“I’m interested in law because law creates an impact in individuals’ lives and society as a whole,” she adds. “My background shaped my perspective in law—I bring a diverse lens to the legal field.”

Her career interests include working at a law firm or legal work in a government context. 

“I see myself as a ‘sponge’ and aim to learn as much as I can on what is possible with a law degree,” she says. “Regardless of the type of law I will eventually practice, I will strive for equity and inclusion in the legal field.” 

Currently interning with Judge Miriam Perry at the 15th District Court in Ann Arbor, Galván says it is an honor to work for the first African American judge in Ann Arbor’s 15th District Court.

“Since I started college in 2010, Ann Arbor became my second home. It’s been rewarding to learn the back scenes of court with a mentor who not only focuses on my educational growth, but personal growth,” she says. 

Through the Wolverine Bar Association’s (WBA) Judicial Externship Program, she will be splitting her summer with a federal judge and a law firm; as a judicial extern in Detroit with Chief Judge Sean Cox of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and a summer associate with BSP Law in Troy. 

“I’m grateful for the opportunities and looks forward to seeing legal work in practice through these summer placements,” she says. 

Secretary of the school’s Hispanic and Latino/a Law Students Association (HiLLSA), Galván also is a member of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). 

“As a woman of color raised in a low-income home in Detroit, I reflect on the low numbers of people of color in law schools and the legal profession,” she says. “It highlights the barriers to law school and the importance of representation to ‘see yourself’ in legal positions. 

“I enjoy being part of HiLLSA and BLSA because the organizations make a conscious effort to provide further education and access to opportunities to students not traditionally represented in law.” 

Galvan was recently awarded the Wolverine Bar Foundation Scholarship and was presented a scholarship as the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan Foundation Outstanding Woman Law Student Award, General Motors Scholar. 

Galván currently lives in Belleville and enjoys music, dancing, and traveling to new places.  

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