Meet the Class of 2023
Incoming students at Minnesota Law bring with them a remarkable breadth of experiences and interests—as demonstrated by these brief introductions of selected members of this year’s 1L class.
ELISABETH BERNABE, PARALEGAL, VARSITY GOLFER AT YALE
Elisabeth Bernabe spent the last two years as a paralegal in the international trade and investment group of the Washington, D.C., office of Hogan Lovells, one of the world’s largest law firms. As an undergraduate at Yale University, she interned for a summer at a startup in Belgium and spent another summer as a research analyst for the IRS. She also was a member of the women’s golf team.
“I am interested in how policies impact individuals and the communities they live in on a global scale,” she says. “Being a paralegal gave me great insight into how such policies play out in the real world. Earning a J.D. will give me the tools to cultivate my passions at a higher level.”
Bernabe plans to enter the field of international human rights law in order to face global injustices and conflicts head-on. (Read Q&A)
ROB GRIMSLEY, NDSU FOOTBALL PLAYER, FIRST GEN STUDENT
Rob Grimsley played as a safety on the North Dakota State University football team for four years, during which the Division I powerhouse amassed an amazing 55-4 record. He helped NDSU win FCS national championships in the 2015, 2017, and 2018 seasons, and was named team captain. He is a first-generation college student.
“Getting a law degree will mean a lot to me and my family because they have always pushed me to be my best,” he says. “Having a degree from the U of M Law School would prove that the hard work paid off.”
His current plan is to become a prosecutor. (Read Q&A)
DUSTIN LOOSBROCK, CONSTRUCTION WORKER, UNION ACTIVIST
Dustin Loosbrock comes from a family of union laborers; he took his first job as a construction worker when he was 13. His prior life experiences include a stint in the U.S. Navy and working as a contractor on an oil pipeline in Nigeria. He hails from Champlin, Minnesota, and is a graduate of Metropolitan State University.
“I chose Minnesota Law because I have grown up in Minnesota, I have helped construct Minnesota, and have advocated for Minnesota’s workers,” he says. “So it’s only befitting that I obtain my professional degree from one of Minnesota’s most respected educational institutions.”
He plans to use his legal education to represent workers’ interests and expand their rights. (Read Q&A)
JENNIFER MELTON, ANTI-HUMAN-TRAFFICKING ADVOCATE
Jennifer Melton has nearly a decade of experience in aiding the survivors of human trafficking, including seven years in China and another year-and-a-half with the Global Center for Women and Justice, where she worked on trafficking education and outreach. Minnesota Law’s commitment to social justice and nationally ranked clinical programs were strong factors in her decision to pursue her legal education at the Law School.
“Collaborating to prevent trafficking and assisting survivors highlights the importance of a robust civil society and civic engagement,” she says.
Melton’s goal is to become an immigration attorney, bridging the ever-widening divide between the disenfranchised and those in positions of power. (Read Q&A)
SAMIA OSMAN, SOMALI REFUGEE, FORMER INTERN AT LAW SCHOOL
Samia Osman says her choice of Minnesota Law for her legal education was an easy one, as the Law School was “already home” to her. As an undergraduate, Osman interned at the James H. Binger Center for New Americans, where she got to work shoulder-to-shoulder with faculty and staff. A Somali refugee herself, she brings empathy and understanding to assisting immigrant clients.
“I want to help those in my communities and in whose shoes I have been—whether that is children living in refugee camps, or Muslims, Blacks, and immigrants in America who are demonized, stereotyped, and discriminated against for simply existing,” she says.
Osman’s dream is to go into international law with a focus on human rights and humanitarianism—“a dream born from being a refugee who comes from and grew up in a world filled with corruption, conflict, and overall instability.” (Read Q&A)
EMMA PETERSON, FULBRIGHT RECIPIENT
Prior to enrolling at Minnesota Law, Emma S. Peterson tutored youth in Peru and Estonia and also volunteered as a tutor in New Orleans during her freshman year of college at Tulane. She has an M.A. in English and was a recipient of a prestigious Fulbright award.
“When it came to choosing a law school, I knew that I wanted the opportunity to engage with the local community through volunteer opportunities and to be able to study human rights law,” she says. “Minnesota Law offered clinics, great connections to local organizations, and a growing city.”
Peterson plans to go into public interest law through nonprofits that work with underserved populations. (Read Q&A)
JENNIFER RIVERS, MOLECULAR SCIENTIST
Jennifer L. Rivers has an M.S. in molecular microbiology and has worked as a molecular and microbiology scientist. Just prior to enrolling at Minnesota Law, she served as an antimicrobial resistance fellow (one of only 12 selected nationally) for the Association of Public Health Laboratories-CDC.
“The public health challenges we face today are further complicated by obstacles inherent in our healthcare system,” she says. “To make scientific research maximally impactful, I want to direct energy toward eliminating these systemic barriers and building a public health legal framework that is sustainable, effective, and compassionate.”
Rivers plans to apply for a dual J.D./MPH degree and move her career into public health law, healthcare policy, and humanitarian advocacy. (Read Q&A)
TONY SANCHEZ, ROTC GRAD, FIRST GEN STUDENT
At Florida State University, Tony Sanchez participated in Air Force ROTC and had internships at the state legislature and in the office of the public defender, both excellent preparation to pursue a career in the law. He is also a first-generation college student in his family.
“I think it’s extremely important to add diverse perspectives in a classroom, [so] not every problem is looked at through the same lens,” he says. “I hope to add a fresh set of eyes in the classroom, whether that’s as a Wendy’s employee during a discussion in Advanced Corporate Law or as the son of a Black/Hispanic father in Employment Discrimination.”
Sanchez plans on joining the U.S. Air Force as a member of the Judge Advocate General Corps after graduation. (Read Q&A)
BENJAMIN WETZEL, FORMER BALLET DANCER
Benjamin Wetzel was a professional ballet dancer for nine years prior to enrolling in Minnesota Law. Wetzel’s impressive career includes major parts in numerous productions while dancing for companies in Louisville and Nashville. A Swiss-American dual citizen, he is fluent in German.
“Physically, my body was beginning to slow down,” he says in explaining his transition from ballet to law. “Though I could have continued dancing for a few more years, I was eager to start a new adventure navigating the complex, varied, and nuanced challenges offered by a career in law.”
Wetzel is starting his legal education with an open mind about what his career might look like after law school, but he would like to work with people from countries around the world in whatever legal area he ultimately pursues. (Read Q&A)