Graduating Student Spotlight: Heavenly Aguilar

Heavenly Aguilar sitting on the wall in front of the law school with the sign reading "George Gund Hall School of Law" visible below her

When she first started law school, Heavenly Aguilar encountered the type of imposter syndrome many new students find familiar. But now, as she prepares to graduate with her JD this month, she  has one key piece of advice for incoming law students: 

“You belong here. You are smart enough, creative enough and strong enough. Trust yourself because you can do this.”

In Aguilar’s case, she tapped into this trust by throwing herself into the law school community at Case Western Reserve. The Brooklyn, New York native quickly became involved in the Student Bar Association, the Black Law Students Association, Latinx Law Students Association and the Women’s Law Association. She also had the opportunity to moderate panels and mentor newer students, which remains one of her favorite law school memories.

“Those organizations introduced me to my greatest friends, taught me how to be more analytical, plan events and handle conflicts between colleagues,” Aguilar said. “They taught me how to become a better leader and gave me a stronger backbone.” 

In addition to her successes on campus, Aguilar was recently a finalist in the 2024 Accelerate: Citizens Make Change Civic Pitch Competition, a social innovation contest held by the Cleveland Leadership Center.

Aguilar and her partner pitched the idea “Real People, Reel Legacies.” The project focuses on gathering unique stories of unheard and overlooked communities, sharing and archiving the stories. They were awarded a $2,000 prize to undertake the project. 

“Without ‘Real People, Reel Legacies’, our stories will continue to die generation after generation,” Aguilar said. 

Family legacy is important to Aguilar, who has two children, Hunter and Zoe-Quinn. 

Aguilar was driven to study law to be a voice for Black and Brown communities and to fight injustices within the criminal justice system. After graduating, she will begin working at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland—the perfect opportunity to put her passions to action. 

“Case Western Reserve was the right choice for me for several reasons, including their Jumpstart program, which allows a space for Black and Brown students to ease their way into the law,” Aguilar remarked. “I am also a huge admirer of Professor Ayesha Bell Hardaway—she was another reason I chose CWRU.”