Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from mid-September through to mid-October.
Here we celebrate our many extraordinary Latinx alumni and their extraordinary achievements, and we look forward to featuring many more in the future!
To nominate an alum for recognition, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are still researching information on José Benet Colón, a Puerto Rican native, and will post what we find here and on our history timeline.
Syracuse University archives show that Lorenzo Guarch y Rios—a Puerto Rican native—appears in the 1916 Syracuse University Commencement program as a graduate of the Bachelor of Laws program. He is also listed in extant student directories from this period as a member of the Psi Psi Chapter of Sigma Chi at Syracuse University.
Alex Bejaran Estevez was born in 1995 in San Juan Puerto Rico. He attended school there and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus with a BA in Political Science, with a concentration in International Relations and Political Theory.
During his time as an undergrad, Alex interned with the House Budget Committee Democratic Staff as part of the Washington Center’s Hill Internship Program through an internship initiative funded by the Puerto Rican State Legislature. Shortly after graduating, Alex moved to New Hampshire to work on a congressional primary in NH01, where he worked, first, as a finance fellow, and then as a policy assistant to the campaign.
A few weeks before the election, Alex moved to Syracuse, New York, to attend Law School at Syracuse University, College of Law. While at SU, Alex served as Secretary and then President of LALSA. After graduating from SU, Alex moved to Seattle, Washington, where he currently works as a staff attorney for the Sexual Violence Law Center.
The Hon. Mary L. Bejarano is a judge for the Criminal Court of the City of New York in Bronx County. She presided in the Bronx until 2019 when she was transferred to Queens County. She was originally appointed to serve as an interim judge for the Civil Court by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2017. She was reappointed to the bench in 2018.
Judge Bejarano received her B.A. in 1994 and her M.A. in 1995 from St. John’s University. She went on to earn her J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law in 1999. She began her legal career as an assistant district attorney with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office.
After five years with the Queens County D.A., Judge Bejarano joined the law firm of Wilson Elser as an associate in 2004, before joining Shaub, Ahmuty, Citrin and Spratt LLP as an associate in 2005. Three years later, she entered into solo practice at her own law firm, where she would practice until reentering the public sector in 2015. At that time, Judge Bejarano became an assistant district attorney with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. She would hold that position until her appointment to the bench in 2017.
Scott de la Vega is a member of the federal government’s career Senior Executive Service (SES) and was appointed by President Biden to be his Acting Secretary of the Interior earlier this year. Scott served as Interior’s Director of Presidential Transition in 2020 and served on the Federal government’s Agency Transition Director’s Council. Scott is a leading authority on political activity law, ethics and appropriations law, and federal administrative law and policy.
He is on the senior management team of the Office of the Solicitor, U.S. Department of the Interior and currently serves as the Associate Solicitor for General Law, the Department’s highest ranking career attorney. Prior to that position, he was the Director of Interior’s Departmental Ethics Office and DOI’s Designated Agency Ethics Official.
Previously, Scott served for several years in various non-partisan senior legal positions at the White House, including as Ethics Counsel to the Vice President and in the Office of the White House Counsel as well as Managing Counsel for Operations in the Executive Office of the President. In these roles, he oversaw the financial disclosure clearance process for all White House officials; directly counseled senior White House staff, Cabinet officials, and nominees seeking Senate confirmation; and helped to formulate policy on issues ranging from acquisition and appropriations law to conflicts of interest and Presidential transition.
He has worked directly with senior leadership across the Executive Branch and in Congress. Scott has served in leadership positions at other federal agencies, as Vice President and Senior Counsel at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and as Vice President at Morgan Stanley, where he was in the investment bank’s Fixed Income Division and served as Chief Counsel for Morgan Stanley Credit Corporation.
Scott was a commissioned officer and served as both a trial and appellate criminal litigator in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where his final active duty assignment was as U.S. Supreme Court Coordinator for the Defense Appellate Division. Scott is a guest lecturer in law and public policy at colleges, universities and agencies across the Federal government. Scott was raised in New York City and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School.
He earned a Diploma in International Relations in 1990 from the University of Wales (Swansea, UK), and a B.A. in 1991 from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at the University at Albany, SUNY and a J.D. (with a Certificate in International Law) in 1994 from the Syracuse University College of Law.
Angela R. Cruz began her career at the Law Department in the Family Court Division where she prosecuted both misdemeanor and felony juvenile delinquency cases. In 2008, Angela transferred to the Tort Division, where she is currently a Senior Counsel in the division's elite Special Litigation Unit.
Angela defends the City of New York, its agencies, and employees in high profile and complex personal injury actions, often involving catastrophic injuries and garnering substantial media attention. She handles cases from inception through disposition by motion practice, settlement, or trial.
In 2011, Angela's efforts were recognized when she received the Division Chief Award and in December 2014, when she received the Law Department's Edith I. Spivak Special Recognition Award. In 2016, Angela was promoted to Assistant Unit Chief within the Special Litigation Unit, a role in which she supervises a team of attorneys. She is also involved in recruitment efforts for the Law Department and interviews applicants for attorney positions throughout the agency.
Prior to joining the Law Department, Angela earned a B.A. and an M. S.W. from Tulane University and a J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law. She is a mother of two and looks forward to bringing her children to the College of Law’s new campus very soon.
Ariel Blanco is a 1stLt, Judge Advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is currently training at The Basic School, Camp Barrett in Quantico, VA.
While at Syracuse Law, Ariel, argued on the National Trial Team. His team finished third overall at the Tournament of Champions and won the National Trial Competition regional. Additionally, he received the New York State Bar Association Tiffany Cup and was inducted into the Order of the Barristers.
Ariel’s legal experience includes working in the Defense Legal Services Agency at the Pentagon, as well as the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, II Marine Expeditionary Force. Ariel also externed at the Federal Public Defender, Northern District of New York.
He will soon attend Naval Justice School in Newport, RI to become qualified to serve as counsel at military courts-martial.
Brenda Lopez Romero is Senior Assistant District Attorney for the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit leading the Justice and Community Initiative.
Brenda was the first American Latina elected to the Georgia General Assembly where she sat on the Education, Retirement, and State Planning and Community Affairs committees. She has worked over 15 years in the legal and political advocacy of immigrants and low-income communities. Formerly, she was a principal attorney handling removal defense and immigration and nationality matters. She also serves as Chairwoman for the Gwinnett County Democratic Party.
Brenda holds a law degree from Syracuse University with a National Security and Counterterrorism certificate and a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University in Political Science and Sociology. While in law school, she was a clerk for Georgia Legal Services Program, American Civil Liberties Union, and an extern for Trial Judge Laura Galvan Salgado for the First District Court of Morelos in Mexico.
Brenda has intensive involvement in community organizing and affiliations with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Hispanic National Bar Association, and Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She is also a member of Leadership Georgia, Leadership Atlanta, International Women’s Forum, U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, and Truman National Security Project. Brenda is on the board of directors for the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and chairs its federal political action committee. Among her lengthy volunteerism, she is most proud of her work as a former G.E.D. instructor with the Marist School Adult Education Program.
Judge Rivera was nominated to the New York State Court of Claims by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, confirmed by the NYS Senate, and sworn in on June 8, 2021.
Before this appointment, Judge Rivera was a partner at Mackenzie Hughes LLP, which he joined in 2001. He was a member of the firm’s business department, where he had served on the Executive Committee and chaired the Employment/Immigration Law Practice Group. His responsibilities included providing counsel and assistance to corporate and individual clients with establishing US branch offices, affiliates, and subsidiaries for US immigration purposes; counseling businesses on US employment and non-discrimination laws, I-9 compliance, and worksite enforcement audits; assisting locally and nationally based hospitals and medical providers with obtaining an administrative waiver of the home residency requirement; and counseling foreign and domestic corporations with obtaining inter-company transfers of key personnel, executives, and multinational managers.
Judge Rivera also was judicially appointed Chair to the New York State Appellate Fourth Department Fifth Judicial District Attorney Grievance Committee, and judicially appointed to the NYS Appellate Fourth Department Judicial Committee on Character and Fitness. Judge Rivera was as an adjunct professor at Syracuse Law, where he earned his Juris Doctorate in 1994. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California.