Natalia Wurst named Garrison Social Justice Scholar for the Class of 2024

Natalia Wurst of San Diego, California, has been selected as the Garrison Social Justice Scholar for the Class of 2024. Wurst’s selection was announced by Assistant Dean for Public Interest Spring Miller.

The Garrison Social Justice Scholarship program supports students who intend to practice in the public interest. Garrison Scholars receive a supplemental annual scholarship for their second and third years of law school along with stipend support to allow them to pursue unpaid legal work with public interest organizations during the two summers prior to graduation. The scholarship, which is endowed by Amy Price Garrison (BA’79) and Frank M. Garrison ’79 (BA;76) through the Amy and Frank Garrison Social Justice Fund, is awarded each spring to a member of the current 1L class.

“We are so pleased to be able to provide Natalia support as she pursues a public interest career,” Miller said. “She has great potential as an advocate for vulnerable and underserved communities in our legal system. The Garrison scholarship will help her take full advantage of her time in law school so she can graduate ready to fight for access to justice for her clients.”

Wurst is working this summer at Her Justice, a New York-based legal nonprofit that helps low-income women who need legal assistance in the areas of family and immigration law gain access to pro bono legal services and support.

Wurst earned a B.S. in public policy and a B.A. in psychology at the University of Southern California with the goal of practicing public interest law. “I was drawn to Vanderbilt because of its support for students seeking careers in public interest law,” she said. “Summer work at legal nonprofits is unpaid, and Vanderbilt does a good job of offering stipend support to students. I was excited to apply for the Garrison Scholarship and am grateful to receive the additional support.”

She had planned to intern at Her Justice as a USC undergraduate student but was forced by the COVID pandemic to put her plans on hold. She contacted them soon after starting law school at Vanderbilt. “I was eager to work at Her Justice because they work at the intersection of family law and immigration law,” she said. “I liked their model of working directly with clients and also partnering with New York firms to extend pro bono legal services to a greater number of clients.”

Wurst joined the Vanderbilt Legal Aid Society and Law Students for Social Justice and volunteered with Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors, a Nashville-based immigrant advocacy organization during her 1L year.

She has a strong interest in immigration law. Her father is a naturalized citizen who immigrated to the U.S. from Lima, Peru, and Wurst speaks fluent Spanish. “I love immigration work,” she said. “It’s rewarding to help someone navigate a complex system.”

In addition to her interests in family and immigration law, Wurst  looks forward to taking classes and working for legal nonprofits that will enable her to gain exposure to employment law and criminal law. She will spend a semester working as an intern with the Choosing Justice Initiative , a Nashville-based nonprofit that provides both civil and criminal legal representation to low-income clients, this fall.