Samantha Ochoa, a third year student in the paralegal program at College of Saint Mary (CSM), has an extensive history of involvement in social justice issues. Before coming to CSM, Samantha worked to advance equity in higher education as a STEM Counseling Assistant & Receptionist at Los Angeles Community College. Samantha is also deeply committed to domestic violence advocacy and hopes to focus her legal career in this area. Her personal experiences and professional training as a paralegal led her to volunteer in a domestic abuse clinic in LA in 2019, an experience which confirmed her commitment to domestic abuse advocacy. Since transferring to CSM, Samantha has continued to grow as a student social justice leader, serving both in Student Senate and the CSM student paralegal association. In both of these roles, she has engaged in significant advocacy to advance policy and public opinion regarding the issue of sexual assault prevention.
I became involved in advocating for Rape and Domestic Abuse law reform since I started to read about the issues as well as witnessing the issues by volunteering in a Domestic Abuse Legal Clinic. Hearing so many stories and witnessing the process of seeking justice brought to light that even with so much legal reform in the past year, so much reform is still needed. I am currently advocating to test the backlog of rape kits as well as for the reform of societal attitudes within the legal system. On campus, I have been involved in Student Senate as well as the Students against Violence organization in order to bring awareness to the issue. I have continued to be involved in community efforts by continuously contacting the local legislature and hosting Denim Day on campus to bring awareness the social and legal issues that need to be reformed. By doing so, I am advocating for the legal change in the way the legal system represents victims so that the law can be used as a promising tool to heal victims for sexual assault and domestic abuse.