Meet McGeorge School of Law’s newest students

Five portraits of students in front of a green background.

Marlen Gaytan-Leon, Tyler Hart, Fara Sheila Rodriguez, Sabine Leimueller, and Saul Vargas are currently first-year students at McGeorge School of Law. Photos by Ashley Golledge.

In August, the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law welcomed more than 200 students to its Sacramento campus. Fifty-three different undergraduate degrees from 69 different universities are represented in the class.

This year’s class of 170 JD students is comprised of 56 percent women and 36 percent first-generation college students. 45 percent of the class identifies as ethnically or racially diverse. 

Many of the first-year students bring prior work experience to law school, including careers as business owners, paralegals, high school sport coaches, court officials, church organizers, and more. The class speaks or signs 15 languages, including Arabic, Spanish, Punjabi, Hindu, American Sign-Language, and Russian. One student even speaks six languages. 

Our incoming students enter law school during different stages of their life. The ages of our incoming students range from 21 to 46. This year’s students also hail from across the country, including Florida, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Arizona – in addition to California. They represent 11 countries and two Indian nations. 

This year’s students have varied interests and hobbies. They are passionate about hiking, baking, yoga, playing instruments, volunteering, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, CrossFit, surfing, politics, reading, theatre, and visiting historical sites around the country. 

Our students have been recognized for their excellence in many ways, including being listed on President’s Lists and Dean’s Lists as well as graduating with honors and scholarships. One student touted an impressive 14 awards on their resume.

Saul Vargas

Saul Vargas

Meet our JD students

Saul Vargas
First-year law student Saul Vargas, of Sylmar, chose to pursue his legal education at McGeorge because of the school’s reputation as a leader in experiential learning and its alumni network. 

“McGeorge offers multiple opportunities to gain practical experience through its clinics and established externships,” Vargas said. “I hope to take advantage of these skills, as well as McGeorge’s expansive and active alumni network, for my entire career as a lawyer.”

Before enrolling at McGeorge, Vargas worked for a large, national firm as a legal recruiter where he helped organize OCIs, meet-and-greets and other recruiting events, and helped manage the office's 2L summer internship program. He said he was drawn to the school because of the institution’s efforts to ensure that students are prepared to succeed in and after law school. 

“McGeorge has followed through on its commitment to making sure we have access to the tools we’ll need to succeed from orientation on,” he said.

After law school, Vargas hopes to be able to address housing issues and disputes that his community faces.

Fara Sheila Rodriguez

Fara Sheila Rodriguez

Fara Sheila Rodriguez
First-year law student Fara Sheila Rodriguez, of Santa Ana, decided to go to law school after two of her relatives were wrongfully incarcerated. Rodriguez applied to McGeorge with the hopes of becoming a great advocate for her hometown. 

“Seeing the impact that the justice system had on my family sparked my interest in law. As a result, I am interested in exploring public interest law with the overall goal of using my law degree to help marginalized communities overcome systemic oppression,” Rodriguez said.

Before law school, Rodriguez did an externship at the Superior Court of Orange County. Through this role, she observed public trials and had the opportunity to see a McGeorge alumnus in action.

“One trial in particular stands out. The public defender, a McGeorge alumnus, was very diligent and eloquent when presenting his case and defending his client. I could tell that McGeorge had given him the proper tools to become a zealous advocate,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said her favorite thing about McGeorge is the school’s community. 

“All my professors are incredibly supportive and helpful,” she said. “I’ve also been fortunate enough to find a great group of friends. The beautiful campus is a plus!”

Marlen Gaytan-Leon

Marlen Gaytan-Leon

Marlen Gaytan-Leon
First-year law student Marlen Gaytan-Leon worked in various roles in different district attorney’s offices prior to law school. Gaytan-Leon, of Winton, developed a special interest in working with victims of crime and ensuring their voices were heard during criminal cases. 

“I decided to pursue law school so I could continue to advocate for the most vulnerable members of our communities from inside the courtroom,” Gaytan-Leon said.

Gaytan-Leon is a first-generation college student and first-generation law student.

“I am honored for the privilege to be here and the opportunity to make my family proud while bringing diversity in to the legal profession,” she said.

Gaytan-Leon said she picked McGeorge School of Law because of its location, legal clinics, Mock Trial and Moot Court teams’ reputations, and professors’ expertise in both the field and the classroom. Her favorite thing about law school so far is the school’s campus.

“I absolutely love all the greenery on campus. The trees and outside space make reading law books a bit more pleasant,” Gaytan-Leon said.

Tyler Hart

Tyler Hart

Meet our graduate, online, and international program students

Tyler Hart

First-year Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) student Tyler Hart, of Napa, is committed to being a voice for underserved populations. Hart views an MPA degree as an essential tool for carrying out positive changes in his community.

“I believe that each of us are agents of change, and we have a duty to honor that reality by being forces of good to those around us,” Hart said. “I chose McGeorge School of Law for its strong ties to California’s capital city, and its reputation for providing students with unparalleled opportunities to learn from experienced law and policy professionals.”

In his first few months as a graduate student, the faculty’s expertise and accessibility has stood out to him.

“My favorite thing about McGeorge School of Law so far is the vast knowledge and experience of the faculty, as well as their accessibility.”

Hart began his college career while incarcerated, earning three degrees at the associate level before returning to the community and completing his undergraduate degree.

“As a first-generation college student, and a formerly incarcerated individual, suffice it to say that it hasn’t been easy getting here,” Hart said. “I am filled with pride and gratitude to be studying at McGeorge School of Law today.”

Hart said that higher education has been a great equalizer in his life and provided him opportunities that weren’t previously available to him.

“It’s my hope that everyone – especially, systems-impacted people – see me here at McGeorge and know that they can make it, too!” Hart said.

Sabine Leimueller

Sabine Leimueller

Sabine Leimueller
First-year LLM student Sabine Leimueller, of Salzburg, Austria, is pursuing an LLM in Transnational Business Practice. The degree trains lawyers to practice in the field of international business law and prepares them for a career in the global economy.

Leimueller decided to pursue a degree abroad to broaden her knowledge in international business law. She explained, “McGeorge is known abroad as a leader in legal education.”

In her first few months at McGeorge, Leimueller has enjoyed being a part of the community and taking interesting classes. 

“The LLM students at McGeorge are like family,” Leimueller said.