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Truth is Powerful

Six Questions with Alumna and Santa Clara County Public Defender Cesilia Fernandez


Cesilia Fernandez (Spanish, International Relations, ’11) is proud to tell people that her job is one of the only positions listed in the U.S. Constitution (via the Sixth Amendment). As a public defender, she often meets people on the worst day of their lives, and she works hard to help her clients recognize that their lives don’t have to be defined by their current predicament.

Fernandez is a first-generation Mexican American, and she was the first person in her family to graduate from high school and attend college. She credits Chico State for preparing her to dream big. After earning dual bachelor degrees, she worked as a legal assistant to a public defender, where she developed a passion for criminal justice reform that drove her to pursue a law degree at Golden Gate University. She sees her work as a way to serve her community and meet a critical need.

When did you know you wanted to become an attorney?

The University’s Study Abroad program helped me land an internship at a nonprofit legal clinic during the year I spent in Madrid as an undergraduate. I worked directly with attorneys helping folks facing deportation, and I had the opportunity to […]

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