Ricky Schneider ’20 was selected as the Villanova Law recipient of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s 2019 Public Interest Section Law Student Award. He was recognized for his dedication to public service at the 2019 Public Interest Section Annual Awards Ceremony and Reception in Philadelphia.
Schneider entered law school in 2017, as a Public Interest Scholar due to his commitment to international issues related to refugee resettlement and human rights. He pursued these interests in school, spending his summers working on behalf of immigrants at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and interning with the Nationalities Service Center. During the academic year, he volunteers at HIAS PA’s Asylee Outreach Program, participates in spring break service trips and represents clients through the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic.
Schneider credits the Law School community for demonstrating what public interest at Villanova means, from coursework to clinical experiences and pro bono opportunities.
“I am extremely humbled and grateful to the public interest community in Philadelphia for selecting me for this award,” Schneider commented. “Working with clients is by far the most rewarding experience in law school, and I encourage anyone – whether interested in public interest or not – to pursue these opportunities throughout their legal careers.”
During his time as a law student, he has also interned for the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Office and the Niskanen Center in Washington, DC, where he worked on immigration issues with an emphasis on environmentally displaced persons. Schneider plans to use his experiences to pursue a career in direct immigration service, international human rights or related policy work.
“As a student in the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic, Ricky demonstrated his commitment to advocating for marginalized communities,” remarked Caitlin Barry, Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic. “Along with his team partner, he brought compassion, patience and empathy to his role as a student attorney and navigated complex legal claims while never failing to consider the personal impact of the legal case on his clients. He is a thoughtful and dedicated public interest student who is well-deserving of this award.”
Schneider has been dedicated to public interest work for many years. In 2015, severe flooding hit his home state of Texas. As a result, he volunteered with the Red Cross and other community organizations to deliver disaster relief services to rural communities. In summer 2016, he taught English as a Wilson Fellow at the Royal University of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Upon his return to the United States, he worked as a refugee resettlement housing specialist through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.