Rita Bahr Memorial Fund University Scholars

When Rita Bahr Cari passed in 2003, Cari created a living memorial in her honor that gives prominence to her compassion for the underprivileged, particularly in the Central and South American region where she spent a considerable amount of time as a child. In 2004, Joe Cari established the Rita Bahr Cari Memorial Fund at Notre Dame University’s Center for Civil and Human Rights. The fund is used to advance the Center’s mission to aid victims of human rights violations and “will enable the center to enhance its innovative and internationally renowned contributions in teaching, research, and service on behalf of human rights. Many of its graduates (a number of whom are from Central and South America) are an integral part of an international network of lawyers who, through their teaching and practice, strive to develop a global human rights culture.”

Providing scholarship aid for exceptional students, of struggling nations students that are outside of the United States to attend Notre Dame Law School. Bringing educational opportunities since 2012 to encourage the study of International Human Rights to have the opportunity to study at the Center.

CCHR Announces 2015-16 Rita Bahr Scholars

The Center for Civil and Human Rights is proud to announce its Rita Bahr Cari Memorial Fund Scholars for 2015-16. The recipients are human rights lawyers enrolled in the Center’s LL.M. Program in International Human Rights.


Luiz Enrique Rosas Luengas (mexico)

Luis Enrique Rosas Luengas (Mexico) earned his law degree from the Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas A.C. (CIDE) in 2013. From 2009 to 2012 he worked on strategic human rights litigation at the law school’s public litigation clinic, and was selected to intern at the Supreme Court of Mexico in 2012. That same year, along with other colleagues, he founded “Semillas de Justicia,” an NGO focused on strategic human rights litigation. He served as a research assistant at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University during 2013. In 2014 he served as a staff attorney at the Federal Commission of Antitrust Law in Mexico leading research against economic cartels. Immediately before enrolling at Notre Dame, he worked as an intern at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.


Johanna Villegas Perez ( Ecuador)

Johanna Villegas Perez (Ecuador) obtained her law degree summa cum laude from San Francisco de Quito University in 2013.  As an undergraduate she represented her school at the Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court Competition and at the “Yachay” Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Competition. Additionally, in 2014 she obtained a master’s degree in international relations at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO). She has been involved in human rights topics as an intern for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and as a consultant for both the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Ecuador and for the Ministry of Justice, Human Rights and Religious Affairs. Since July 2013, she has worked as an attorney for the Legal Aid Clinic at San Francisco de Quito University.


Past Rita Bahr Scholars
Audrey Mena (Colombia)

Audrey Mena (Colombia) is an Afro-Colombian human rights lawyer who earned her law degree from the Technological University of Chocó in 2010. Inhabited largely by the descendants of African slaves brought by Colombia’s Spanish colonizers, the demographics of Chocó is economically, ethnically and culturally distinct from the majority population of Colombia. Ms. Mena’s research and advocacy focus on the human rights violations experienced by Afro-Colombians in Chocó, which result from crushing poverty, socio-environmental conflicts that result from illegal gold mining, and violence from guerillas and paramilitaries who seek to control this remote jungle for coca cultivation and drug smuggling routes. In 2009, the U.S. Embassy in Bogota awarded Ms. Mena the Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellowship for Young Afro-Colombian Leaders, recognizing her exceptional potential as an advocate for racial and environmental justice in Colombia.

Sara Milena Ferrer (Colombia)
Sara Milena Ferrer (Colombia), also an Afro-Colombian human rights lawyer, earned her law degree from the University of Cartagena in 2008. After graduation, Ms. Ferrer became the first graduate of her law school to receive a clerkship with the Colombian Constitutional Court, one of the most highly regarded constitutional tribunals in the world. As a clerk for Justice Sierra Porto, her work includes writing draft decisions for cases involving economic, social and cultural rights violations. Ms. Ferrer also works for Racial Discrimination Watch in Bogota, where she provides guidance to Afro-Colombian organizations in their effort to seek reparations for the victims of extrajudicial violence from Colombia’s armed conflict.
Chistina GOnzalez (Guatemala)

Christian Gonzalez (Guatemala) earned his LL.B. magna cum laude from the Jesuit Rafael Landivar University in 2010, where he is also completing an M.A. in Philosophy. Mr. Gonzalez became involved in human rights work through assisting two alumni of the CCHR’s human rights program in successfully representing the family of Florencio Chitay Nech before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; the Court held Guatemala responsible for the 1981 forced disappearance of Mr. Chitay Nech, an indigenous Mayan political leader. Currently, Mr. Gonzalez works for a law firm where he represents victims of human rights violations and government corruption before domestic tribunals. His pro bono work includes presenting workshops on HIV transmission on behalf of the National Council for the Prevention of HIV/AIDS and promoting access to justice in rural indigenous communities.