Sandra Zuniga Guzman, '13

Human rights advocate finds role with Street Law

January 19, 2010

Through Street Law, first-year student Sandra Zuniga Guzman is building on lessons from law experts by teaching others about the law and human rights.

“The goal [of Street Law] is to spread awareness of law and people’s rights,” says Zuniga Guzman, an undergraduate who works closely with the University of Richmond law students who run the program. Members visit sites such as the YMCA a few times a week, teaching classes on legal topics to middle- and high-school students.

To help train the instructors — both law and undergraduate students — Street Law organizes weekly lessons with law professors on topics such as environmental law and sports law. For undergraduates considering law school or careers in public policy, these workshops are an early opportunity to learn from law professors and to collaborate with law students.

For Zuniga Guzman, a human rights advocate, the choice to join the group was easy. She quickly became the organization’s undergraduate recruitment officer, a role that allows her to integrate her academic interests with civic-engagement, career-development and social opportunities.

In addition to Street Law, Zuniga Guzman is a member of the pre-law society, the debate team and Cercle Francais. One of 13 Oldham Scholars in her class, she received a full tuition and room and board scholarship to Richmond.

“Getting that scholarship was the difference between going to school and maybe not” attending college at the time, says Zuniga Guzman, who grew up in Lima, Peru, before moving to northern Virginia with her mother when she was nine.

When she travelled back to Lima for the first time in 2006, the contrasts between Peru and the United States had an impact on her. In Peru, “You’re exposed to poverty regardless — it’s reality,” she says. Those differences helped to crystallize her passion for human rights.

Eventually, Zuniga Guzman wants to work for a non-governmental organization in Andean South America. To help her reach that goal, she’s majoring in political science and developing a second, interdisciplinary major that combines psychology, French and philosophy.