Rosa Vargas has worked as our Pro Bono Program Assistant at Casa Cornelia for over two years. Now, she has chosen to pursue the next step of her legal career at Harvard School of Law. As she nears her last day here at the Law Center, she reflects on the people she was able to work with and the skills and memories she gained along the way:


Rosa Vargas at Yale University, where she received her undergraduate degree.

I first came to Casa Cornelia in the summer of 2017 as an undergraduate intern for the asylum program.

I was drawn to the work because of the focus on the immigrant community in our border region—where I was raised—but also because of the firm’s mission to seek justice with compassion. It was fate that when I graduated from college the following spring that a staff position opened up and I was able to join the Cornelian family once more.

My two favorite things about Casa Cornelia are as such: First, that I’ve been able to witness the generosity of the San Diego legal community. In my role as Pro Bono Program Assistant, I interact with stellar volunteer attorneys from big firms, from small firms, and from their own solo practices. Most of our volunteer attorneys had never practiced immigration law, but are willing to “jump in head first” and help someone in need.

Two volunteer attorneys, Andrea Caruso Townsend and Teodora D Purcell, pictured with Rosa Vargas (far right) and her supervisor Katherine Paculba-Lacher at Casa Cornelia’s 25th Anniversary event held on the USD campus.

It always touched my heart to learn that our volunteer attorneys enjoyed working for our clients so much that they believe their Casa Cornelia case work to be the most important and rewarding work of their legal career.

Our clients’ stories keep the attorneys coming back, wanting to volunteer for more cases. Second, I’ve been proud to see that the Casa Cornelia staff and volunteers have continued to adapt to the abrupt, unexpected changes to immigration policy in recent times. Casa Cornelia and its volunteers fight for justice with compassion, regardless of how difficult the odds may seem. Casa Cornelia attorneys are quick to address new changes, and they fearlessly push forward the boundaries of current case law to advocate for our clients.

Thanks to Casa Cornelia Law Center, I am more determined than ever to become a lawyer and advocate for the indigent immigrant community in the border region.

While I am sad to leave the Cornelian family for the time being, I am overjoyed to continue my formal legal education at Harvard Law School this fall. Attending Harvard Law School wouldn’t have been possible without the help and inspiration of Casa Cornelia Law Center, and I am very grateful to the Cornelian family for everything they have taught me.

Rosa (right) celebrating a birthday with her fellow CCLC staff and interns.


Rosa has been vital to the effective functioning of our Pro Bono Program, and in turn the organization at large. Thanks to a generous grant from Price Philanthropies, Casa Cornelia was able to create Rosa’s position with the role of supporting the program’s efforts to amplify the impact of our work by utilizing San Diego’s legal community. Her supervisor and Managing Attorney of the Pro Bono Program Katherine Paculba-Lacher says, “I am so proud, even though I will miss my treasured colleague and very capable right-hand woman of two years, so much. I can’t wait to see Rosa enter the profession.”

As Rosa prepares to further her education on the road to becoming an attorney and advocate for immigrant justice, we know she will bring along the values of Casa Cornelia, spreading justice with compassion wherever her path leads her. Please join us in thanking Rosa for her service at Casa Cornelia and wish her well on the next step of her journey at Harvard Law School!

Rosa (left) with coworker Annie Gorden attending a conference at Yale Law School.

For more information on any upcoming staff openings, please visit our Careers page, or click here if you would like to learn more about becoming a volunteer attorney.