Cindy Zhunio ’19 is one of 14 recent graduates from colleges across the country to be selected by Immigrant Justice Corps to help provide legal assistance to immigrants in need.
June 20, 2019
For Cindy Zhunio ’19, who recently graduated with her bachelor’s degree in political science, her passion for becoming an immigration attorney was personal.
"I come from a mixed-status family, and I have experienced first-hand the impact that laws and policies have on the undocumented community," said Zhunio. "I want to become an immigration lawyer because no one deserves to go through the trauma of having their family torn apart, nor should anyone live in fear because of their legal status."
As a student, Zhunio represented the University of New Haven as a member of its Model United Nations team, traveling to Washington, D.C., and to Japan while honing her public speaking skills. A President’s Public Service Fellow, she worked with Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, a federally recognized refugee resettlement agency in New Haven. Her passion for immigration law also led to internships at the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project and the New Haven Legal Assistance Association.
These experiences led to her being selected by Immigrant Justice Corps, as one of its 2019 community fellows. She is one of 14 recent graduates from across the country chosen to serve in this role.
"I want to become an immigration lawyer because no one deserves to go through the trauma of having their family torn apart."Cindy Zhunio ’19
The fellowship program, which was the brainchild of Robert A. Katzmann, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and developed by the Robin Hood Foundation, enables recent college graduates to provide individualized legal screening and representation during the immigration benefits application process to underserved immigrant communities.
"This cohort of IJC community fellows is exceptional and, with the training that IJC provides, will contribute greatly to ensuring access to justice for immigrants and their families," said Judge Katzmann.
Community fellows become Department of Justice accredited representatives, allowing them to represent clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Since 2014, community fellows have filed more than 4,800 fee waiver applications and saved low-income clients more than $3 million in fees.
Community fellows will serve for two years embedded within immigrant communities. Zhunio, who will be based in the New York Public Library’s Mott Haven branch in the Bronx, is looking forward to assisting clients with their immigration cases.
"I feel very honored to be one of the few chosen to be a community fellow," said Zhunio, who has deferred her admission to Rutgers Law School while she participates in the fellowship. "It’s such an important opportunity to me because I believe in the mission of IJC. As a fellow, I will be helping to provide legal services to those who need it the most."