I learned about the importance of law in my own home. My grandfather often was taken advantage of by employers willing to exploit his status as an immigrant from Mexico. As much as it troubled him, he had no knowledge of his individual rights or how to legally advance his claims. My mother faced domestic issues that created a constant state of fear for us from a boyfriend who stalked, trespassed, entrapped, threatened, sexually and mentally abused her. Through discussions with law enforcement and my mother, I quickly realized how little could be done for us with no financial resources to proceed legally with our problems and the disadvantage we had with the inability to afford a lawyer. Learning from law enforcement about the procedures and importance of evidence, I took charge for what I could in the situation, adapting my home life to record crucial information and contributing to the creation of statements that would help my mother in court. We were ultimately successful in gaining a hard fought temporary restraining order. These experiences were integral for my engagement of the effects of legal and institutional forces on society and on an individual's ability to live his or her life.
Coupled with my fondness for the subjects of politics, law, and history, I selected political science as my major in college. Fortunately, I was admitted to the University of California, Merced, located in the San Joaquin Valley, a region known for high economic deprivation. Determined to positively affect a community with many individuals from a less than economically privileged background like myself, I joined a service fraternity that allowed me many opportunities to engage in outreaches like fundraising and volunteering.
Departing from my studies, a great deal of my time was put in as a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a national fraternity characterized by service for our local, university, and country-wide community. APO was still forming a presence and identity at my university when I joined. Wanting to help contribute to the formation of this identity, I developed leadership skills by serving as a Sergeant-At-Arms through which I educated members on procedures and rules as well as moderated executive committee meetings. Simultaneously serving in a financial committee, I was responsible for formulating fundraisers, in which I pioneered and helped execute the creation of a marketplace, which generated an income of over $500 in its first month to cover our expenses and also go towards service projects and donations for community organizations.
I learned from my parents what not to do. They had me when they were teenagers, separated shortly after my birth, and worked multiple jobs while attending school. I learned from their difficult experiences not to do the same. Instead, the poverty in which I grew up kept me going in my ambition to excel in my educational career. In college, I made it a mission to fully utilize the resources that were at my disposal and to not learn for the sake of succeeding in classes but rather, to fully comprehend information to improve my understanding of a variety of discourses.
At UC Merced, I studied the constitutional powers and constraints of the Supreme Court, the compositional effects of court judges, and statistical political analysis with Professor Thomas Hansford. Outside my major, I took many courses in sociology studying about communities and the effects of being comprised of different traits and the forces that molded them with Professors Daisy Reyes and Laura Hamilton. My Spanish courses helped me expand a language that allows me to connect and effectively communicate with my family members and other Spanish-speakers.
While in law school, I wish to acquire a legal education that I can later use to advocate for those who do not have the financial resources or the knowledge to protect or express their rights. I am particularly interested in immigration and international law because these fields of law address issues affecting members from a common ethnic heritage of mine and criminal law because of my past experiences from a troubled home. Given my background, I believe that my participation in legal discourse, especially concerning race and class, will supplement the cultural and intellectual diversity of my university colleagues.