Tonya DeGruy

Job title: 
Class of 2025
2024 Democracy Camp in Berkeley

Tonya DeGruy (she/her)

Tonya DeGruy is a non-traditional transfer student at the University of California, Berkeley in her second semester. Tonya was raised in the city of Los Angeles with a single mom. Being a non-traditional student returning to school later in life after having many life experiences, she has been able to pursue her goals with tenacity and dedication. Though growing up she was faced with many social and economic challenges, it has enabled her to be goal-driven with perseverance and commitment to her passion for the law and social justice reform. Gaining personal insight from her struggles with mental health, being of a marginalized and systematically oppressed group where the lack of resources is fundamentally crucial to those afflicted, she works closely with women in hospitals, institutions, and recovery. She has made it her goal to be the voice for women of color who are caught in the legal system with mental health issues pursuing a degree in legal studies with a minor in race and law.

During her undergraduate program at Pasadena Community College, she was a member of F.I.R.S.T. Formerly Incarcerated Radical Scholars Team, working with students who have been affected or impacted by the prison-industrial complex. She participated in the academic study “Centering Our Voices in Reentry: A Panel Discussion with Formerly Incarcerated/System-Impacted Practitioners and Researchers” for the Uprooting Carceral Psychology: Healing Justice Conference held virtually in 2021. She had an opportunity to work as a research assistant, and collaborate with Purdue Psychology Doctorate students with the goal to help the medical and social service community and establish a module of therapy that specifically fits the needs of long-term incarcerates post-release. The goal was to have the findings published in an academic journal. She is currently a member of the Underground Scholars Initiative to do justice and policy reform research. Tonya currently works part-time in an insurance defense firm as a paralegal, becoming well-versed in the civil litigation process. Before working in the civil litigation department, she worked for an employment law firm that represented California employees who had been discriminated against in the workplace for sex, race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. Working as a paralegal has allowed her to hone the skills that will be transferable into policy and government reform.

Research interests: 

Major(s): Legal Studies