PILI is excited to welcome Ruben Bautista to our Board of Directors as the 2020 Law Student Intern Alumni Representative. Each year, PILI appoints one Intern and one Fellow from the most recent class to serve on the board for a two-year term. Ruben Bautista is a student at Chicago-Kent College of Law. He was a 2019 Intern at Equip for Equality and a 2020 Intern at the Shriver Center.
What have you been up to since your PILI Internship concluded?
After finishing my most recent PILI Internship at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, I started my last year of law school and began to work in the Office of State Representative Theresa Mah. As the community liaison and policy associate for State Representative Mah, I have been able to work with constituents that reach out to our district office with questions related to state programs or state agencies. I have also been able to help with various community events, such as COVID-19 testing and food distributions. In addition, I have been able to serve as the liaison for State Representative Mah at various community group meetings and events. At the various meetings that I have been able to attend, I have been able to speak about work that our office is doing and share information on various resources and upcoming events.
In addition to working with State Representative Mah, I have been fortunate to have been elected to my childhood elementary school’s Local School Council (LSC). As a member of the LSC at my elementary school, I have participated in conversations regarding the health and safety of students, teachers and staff during this pandemic. In addition, we have discussed ways that our school can continue to support the students, teachers, staff, and community throughout this time.
What was your favorite thing about being a PILI Intern?
I really enjoyed everything that has come from being a PILI Intern. If I had to choose one thing, I would say that my favorite thing about being a PILI Intern is having the privilege to have met so many great people that are dedicated to public interest work. As a PILI Intern, I have been able to join a cohort of so many great friends that are passionate about using the legal tools we have gain during law school to provide representation to communities that have limited access to legal representation. In addition, I have been fortunate to have met so many amazing attorneys that are extremely dedicated to pursuing justice and sharing their knowledge with law students like myself. Through my PILI Internships, I met so many great mentors who have been continuously supportive as I have made my way through the different challenges presented by law school.
How has your commitment to service played a role in your life and career?
I am the proud son of immigrant parents. Despite all the challenges my parents have had to go through, they always managed to do their best to provide for our family and teach us valuable life lessons. One of the lessons my parents taught us was related to the importance of giving back and serving the community. My parents made sure we understood that we should use our education and individual skills to serve our community. As I was growing up, I became involved with the local youth group and served on the group’s leadership team. As a member of the team, I was able to contribute to the group’s plans that were focused on continuing to support the youth growing up in the community. My experiences growing up showed me that whatever path my life took, I wanted my life to be focused on serving the community.
I have been extremely fortunate to be able to pursue a higher education and gain valuable skills throughout my internship experiences. During my first year, I interned with the Children’s Legal Center and worked on helping individuals apply for asylum in the United States. After my first year, I worked with the civil rights team at Equip for Equality and supported the organization’s efforts in protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities. During my second year, I was able to help provide direct legal representation to individuals in the city that were dealing with housing issues. I also was an extern with the ACLU of Illinois where I had to opportunity to support the organization’s efforts in protecting individual’s civil liberties and rights. After my second year, I was fortunate to have received a PILI to intern at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law. During that summer, I had the opportunity to work on multiple projects, which included writing legal memos to help inform the organization’s litigation on the public charge rule. Throughout law school and my internships, I have been able to learn so much and gain valuable skills. I am committed to use those skills to continue to serve communities like the one I grew up in.