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We’re proud of the perseverance and hard work that each of the 2020 LEAP Fellows put in on their way to law school. This kind of determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles is especially resonant in Ruben’s story. Read more below about his remarkable journey from wrongfully convicted prisoner to studying to become a lawyer.

Ruben currently attends Pomona College, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. But years ago, he was sentenced to 60 years to life for a crime he did not commit. During that time, he endured the agonizing isolation of solitary confinement for more than 10 years. While in solitary confinement, Ruben began to study law. He represented himself from prison and was exonerated of his charges.

As the 2020 LEAP Fellowship comes to a close, Fellows will soon be getting their LSAT scores back and using all of their knowledge from the fellowship to send in competitive law school applications. Ruben is applying to law schools with the intent to better the criminal justice system and save innocent lives as a practicing lawyer. In this way, he hopes that his unique experience can ultimately be used for good.
When reflecting on the opportunities he has had since winning his release, he shared “I understand that my presence is helping to reframe the way people see individuals like myself and thus my academic success becomes advocacy. I am an agent of social change through not only where I am coming from and where I am headed, but also through the human capital that a formal education provides.”
Ruben’s story is still being written.