Two BU Law Students Named 2017 Rappaport Fellows

Mario Paredes (’18) and Celeste Peay (’19) earned public policy internships in key Massachusetts state offices.

A prominent Boston immigration activist heading into his final year of law school and a rising 2L pursuing a dual JD/MD have landed prestigious summer internships with this year’s class of fellows at the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy.

Since its inception in 2000, the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy has placed law students in a wide variety of public service-related internships, focusing on issues of special interest within the Greater Boston Area. The fellows also gather for weekly events designed to deepen their knowledge of the public service arena.

Mario Paredes (’18) and Celeste Peay (’19), Boston University School of Law’s two 2017 Rappaport Fellows are both serving in state government offices.

“This year’s 2017 Rappaport Fellows are an exemplary class of aspiring policy makers. They already have proven track records pursuing their interests in health care, LGBT and women’s issues, criminal and social justice, human and immigrant rights, crime prevention, voting rights, and education,” said Rappaport Center Executive Director Elisabeth J. Medvedow in an article for BC Law magazine. “As Rappaport Fellows they will gain real-world experience, learn from knowledgeable mentors, and achieve an understanding of how law and public policy can effect the social good.”

Mario Paredes, Office of Massachusetts State Senator Will Brownsberger

Mario Paredes ('18)Mario Paredes (’18) is serving his internship in the office of Massachusetts State Senator Will Brownsberger, the chairman of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

“A lot of the legal matters [Senator Brownsberger] works on have to do with criminal justice reform,” Paredes says, “so that’s really where my focus is.” He’s spent a lot of time doing legal research, creating bill summaries, and offering feedback on various aspects of criminal justice reform: “Explaining what certain policies are, pointing out issues, and making recommendations as to changes that should be made to the legislation.” He also hopes to get some experience writing policy, and plans to work on a special project related to human trafficking.

A rising 3L, Paredes was listed among the El Mundo Boston Latino 30 Under 30 in 2016, in large part for his work with Centro Presente, a Boston-area immigration advocacy group. “Unfortunately, there is a growing overlap between immigration issues and criminal justice issues,” says Paredes. “My experience before law school, and also during my 1L summer internship, [was] more with providing direct service.” Paredes spent the summer of 2016 working as a legal intern with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), which represents undocumented immigrant children in the Boston area. His position this summer offers him a chance to learn about another dimension of the process. “I wanted to make sure I got the experience of knowing how policy is made, knowing who the stakeholders are, who the decision makers are, and how that process plays out at the State House.”

His work in the community has complemented his time at BU Law. “I really took a lot of classes that had to do with immigration, including the [Immigrants’ Rights Clinic],” he says. “That’s allowed me to practice my research skills, practice talking to clients or constituents, and practice being able to write legal memoranda for certain issues. Also one of the biggest takeaways has been being able to just read law and policy, because I think it’s a whole different language.”

This fall, Paredes plans to continue learning about the legislative arena though the BU Law Legislative Policy & Drafting Clinic. After law school, he’s looking into postgraduate fellowships that relate to immigration and criminal justice, and considering both nonprofit and local government work.

The Rappaport fellowship has helped lay the foundation for his future endeavors.

“It’s been super helpful to have a well-rounded experience: working here, receiving mentorship, and also being able to go out into the community and see what resources are out there,” Paredes says.

Celeste Peay, Massachusetts Health Connector Authority

 Celeste Peay ('19)Celeste Peay (’19) is working with the Massachusetts Health Connector Authority. She serves on the policy team, writing, conducting research and reviewing literature: “Trying to think creatively about how to best serve the needs of our customers here in Massachusetts and…bringing, hopefully, a clinical expertise to thinking about [questions] like, ‘What’s good insurance?’ and ‘What can we offer our customers?’”

As a dual-degree student in the JD/MD program, Peay will start her second year of law school in the fall. One of her chief interests is to find new, creative ways to make health care available to everyone. Established in 2006, the Massachusetts Health Connector has a lot of experience solving the problems a lot of health exchanges face. Peay has the opportunity to bring her clinical experience to bear on the policy work of the internship. “Coming from a medical background, I know what it looks like when someone doesn’t have insurance, and I’ve watched people go through headaches,” she says.

Though Peay plans to take the bar after she graduates with her JD, she envisions her future career as “a doctor with legal expertise,” seeing patients as a practicing clinician while also taking a couple of days out of the week working on policy.

This summer, Peay wanted to gain a better understanding of Massachusetts’ uninsured population. Though the state has the highest rate of insured people in the country at 96.4 percent, the Health Connector Authority is always looking for ways to get to 100 percent. She also wanted to understand the impact of changes going on at the federal level. “This fellowship has been an opportunity to really get into the weeds,” she says. “That’s what I was looking for from a summer internship. I wanted to be able to really spend my time…reading policy briefs and issue papers.”

Peay says that her class on administrative law with Professor Jay Wexler was very helpful in getting her ready for all the reading she’s doing now. “We learned about reading legislation,” she says, “we learned about how agencies are implementing [legislation], and rule promulgation, and that’s kind of like where I am every day.”

Now past the halfway point of her fellowship summer, Peay has found the fellowship to be exactly the sort of experience she wanted.

“I’ve absolutely loved being here,” she says. “My bosses are great, the culture is great, and the fellowship itself has been truly fabulous.”

Reported by Trevor Persaud (STH18)

Related News