Monica Andrade-Fannon

Skadden Fellow at ACLU of Michigan

2017 | Detroit, MI

Northern Arizona University | Social Work

When she arrived at MSU Law, ’17 grad Monica Andrade-Fannon’s road to a public interest career quickly led her to the office of David Thronson, senior associate dean for academic affairs and professor of law.

Dean Thronson is an experienced advocate for public interest work, so when he met Andrade-Fannon during her 1L year, he recommended the Skadden Fellowship Foundation – a prestigious organization that offers two-year fellowships to law grads pursuing public interest. As a former Skadden Fellow, Dean Thronson knows the power of the fellowship for young lawyers. And so Andrade-Fannon and Dean Thronson created a two-year plan to develop her application while she built her strengths to be a competitive choice among the pool of applicants.

During the application process, Andrade-Fannon had doubts about her chances. “All I knew was that hard work, passion, and personal experience were my best assets,” she said. “Others were very supportive of my goals and provided me with the extra confidence and energy to complete the process.”

Andrade-Fannon started working in the immigrant community in Michigan through MSU Law’s Immigration Law Clinic, taking on special immigrant juvenile status cases, and representing immigrant children in Immigration Court. “That was my first ever experience, and it pretty much solidified that it’s what I wanted to do,” she said.

She interned for the ACLU of Arizona and when the time came to choose her sponsor for the fellowship, the ACLU of Michigan was a natural choice.“The ACLU of Michigan has been one of the leaders in the civil rights advocacy for immigrants,” she explained. “Part of this is that there is a strong immigrant community in Michigan, and also there are programs to aid refugees and unaccompanied minors that bring many of the national issues to this state.”

She was awarded the fellowship in 2017, and today, she’s approaching the end of her two years as a Skadden Fellow. “What is unique about being a Fellow is that it allowed me to entirely focus on the work I am passionate about at the highest level,” she said. “Being a Fellow has propelled me into a situation where I can make immediate contributions to some of the most pressing legal issues in protecting the civil rights of immigrants. With the Skadden Fellowship comes a network of those who dedicate their lives to public interest law.”

MSU Law has graduated three Skadden Fellows since 2013; Andrade-Fannon is the most recent to complete the fellowship. She offered this advice to those who want to be the next: “Make sure you are truly in it for the long haul. Public interest work is emotionally intense. It is not easy to separate work from personal life, as the work you are doing is very personal by its nature. Make sure that the reason you are doing this work reflects your personal values and utilizes your experiences to make a difference – and find your mentors and advocates early.”