On June 28, at Paul Hastings LLP, AABANY and AALFNY held their annual Summer Reception, featuring Hon. Toko Serita, Acting Justice, NYS Supreme Court, as the event’s distinguished guest speaker and the recognition of AALFNY’s scholarship and fellowship recipients. 

Sylvia Chin, President of AALFNY delivered the opening remarks, introducing AALFNY and AABANY’s board members and thanking all attendees for their support and contributions to both organizations. AABANY President James Cho followed up with a meaningful reminder that AALFNY’s scholarships help dozens of aspiring attorneys commit to public service or public interest without being weighed down by financial burdens.

After opening remarks, Sylvia recognized each recipient of AALFNY’s scholarship and fellowship awards: Corinne Merdegia, Henna Kaushal, and Nishat Bella Tabassum. 

  • Corinne, a student at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law, is a recipient of the 2018 Edward G. H. Chin Memorial Scholarship for her dedication to the advancement of APA and Asian immigrant communities. She will be working with the Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Law Unit this summer. 
  • Henna, a student at the UC Berkley School of Law, is a recipient of the 2018 AALFNY Community Service Scholarship for her extraordinary community service initiatives, including domestic violence awareness campaigns, “Know Your Rights” presentations translated into Punjabi, and political education workshops for South Asian youth. She will be working with the New York Ciivl Liberties Union (NYCLU) this summer.
  • Nishat, a student at the City University of New York Law School, is the recipient of the 2018 AALFNY/SABANY Fellowship Award due to her devotion to assisting the South Asian community and victims of domestic violence through organizations such as Sanctuary for Families. She will be working at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.

The event’s guest speaker was Hon. Toko Serita who presides over three problem solving courts in Queens County Criminal Court. She delivered a powerful address that discussed the reality of human trafficking. As a judge at the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court since 2008, Justice Serita shared insights about the causes, consequences, and conditions of human trafficking that often remain unseen, especially in large metropolitan areas like New York City. Justice Serita began to dedicate herself to this field when she realized that the lack of an efficient judicial response to human trafficking has led to female defendants—many arrested on prostitution charges. The Human Trafficking Intervention Court, she explained, seeks to address this complex issue by first redefining female defendants involved in sex trafficking as victims rather than criminals.

The event concluded with attendees mingling over food and drinks provided by Paul Hastings. We thank Paul Hastings LLP for helping us host our annual Summer Reception and all the attendees for joining us for the evening.