Distinguished Alumna

2019 Mercy High School Distinguished Alumna
Aisa Villarosa ’04


Mercy High School is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Alumna Award, Aisa Villarosa ’04. Dr. Cheryl Delaney Kreger ’66 will present Aisa with the award at Tea for Tuition on April 14, 2019.

Aisa is Associate Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Insight Center, a national racial justice, policy, and advocacy organization, where she advocates for women, people of color, and immigrants, particularly in their access to economic security and the intersecting rights of health, housing, and education. In her current role, and throughout her academic and legal career, Aisa has been committed to vigorous social justice work. As the first generation Filipina daughter of immigrants, Aisa has been greatly informed by heritage and racial diversity issues.

Aisa received her BA in Political Science, with a minor in Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies (A/PIA) from the University of Michigan. She went on to earn her JD from Wayne State University Law School, specializing in children’s rights. As a student, Aisa stepped into a staggering number of leadership roles. She organized grassroots campaigns, led student associations, served as a student teacher and mentor, encouraged community engagement among young people in Detroit, and raised funds for Asian Americans and Filipino Studies.

At Wayne State, Aisa co-founded The 313 Project, a student group that later became a nonprofit dedicated to providing pro bono legal services, educational resources, and community-based supports to Detroiters. Under her leadership, The 313 Project hosted more than a dozen legal aid clinics, including a women’s empowerment and domestic violence clinic, and executed monthly large-scale service projects, including a 400-volunteer renovation of a blighted 26-acre park. The group also awarded more than $10,000 in scholarship funds to Detroit high school students.

As a law clerk and attorney at the Michigan Children’s Law Center, Aisa represented children in abuse and neglect proceedings, as well as juvenile justice hearings. She sought mental health, education, and family support resources for her clients, many of whom were impacted by trauma, homelessness, and violence. In recognition of her leadership and service, she received the prestigious Skadden Arps Public Interest Fellowship.

Aisa weaves art and creativity into her advocacy as much as possible. As an attorney at Young Minds Advocacy, Aisa worked with youth artists and poets to “comment” on federal disability law through poetry, spoken word, and testimonials. She is a painter, photographer, and self-described movie geek. Her ongoing community work includes serving as a board member of Aspire Education Project, a Bay Area-based tutoring nonprofit that provides students and families with educational supports.

Cora Villaruel ’83 remarks, “Aisa has helped countless individuals and communities develop independence and sustainability, in urban and rural societies where a history of inequities have often left them desperate and without hope of normalcy. She has risked her well-being to reach those who need her - wildfires and rabid dogs will not stop this woman! Aisa is very proud of her Filipino heritage and has initiated many cross-cultural programs and educational opportunities featuring Filipino and Asian history. I know of no better person who exemplifies the Mercy High School Values of Human Dignity, Mercy, Justice, Service, and Option for the Poor than Aisa Villarosa.”

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University of Michigan
Vice President and Historian, American Student Association (FASA)
Co-founder, “Bittersweets” Campaign for Human Rights
Administrative Committee, Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Department
Co-President, Asian/Pacific Islander American Heritage Month
Ginsberg Service Honors
  
Wayne State University
President, Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA)
President, Wayne Law Student Bar Association Board of Governors (SBG)
Secretary, Hispanic Law Students Association (HLSA)
Associate Editor, The Wayne Law Review
First Wayne Law student to be named a Skadden Fellow
Twice named a Wayne Law Public Interest Law Fellow
John W. Reed Endowed Scholarship Recipient
Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association Community Impact Award
   
Professional Accomplishments
Board Member, Aspire Education Project, Bay Area, California
Admitted to practice law in California, Michigan

Distinguished Alumna Recipients