BLOG | Alma Hinojosa
Fear is the Mind Killer
June 7, 2019
It was my junior year of high school when I had the honor to see one of my greatest role models. United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the very first Latina I connected with in my history books. Justice Sotomayor is a woman that has surpassed many hardships to get where she is now. She is my superhero. At the beginning of this school year, I once again had the opportunity to hear her speak in person. Judge Arguello made it possible for the Fellows to attend a small group meeting with her and attend her afternoon public lecture. I relived that incredible opportunity from my junior year of high school. Both of the times I have heard her speak, she has left me with encouragement and the strength to not give up. As a junior in college, I was no longer experiencing discouragement from my counselor about attending college, but rather the doubt in myself that I was not capable of passing the LSAT exam.
Her words of wisdom really spoke to me because I wanted to give up my dream of law school. In her lecture, she spoke directly to the people of color on how we are just as worthy and, through our determination, we will be able to achieve our goals and dreams. She stated that through her drive, perseverance, and the ability to just keep trying, she has been able to succeed. She continued by talking about how most people give up because they let fear conquer them. And although she often feels afraid, she just won't let it conquer her.
“Fear can be embarrassing. It can be painful. But it doesn’t kill you. The trick is recognizing that and saying to yourself, even if it hurts, I’m going to keep trying.”
As I wrap up my junior year of college, I replay her words in my head because the LSAT perpetration continues to be a barrier to me, just as it is for many like me. The challenge of learning English as my second language has made it very difficult to learn the exam techniques. It has made me feel like I am not prepared to take the exam in the summer. But as I remember her powerful message that day, I have realized that I was afraid to disappoint myself, my Mentors, and my parents by not getting the LSAT score I need to be able to attend my dream law school. I have learned to trust the process instead of letting fear conquer me. Maybe I will not be ready to take the exam this year but I know that if I keep trying and continue to work with the resources I have available to me, I will eventually be able to get there.
The Feeling of Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
October 18, 2016
As I wrap up my second year of college, I think of the person I was when I first started my studies at CU Boulder. It is empowering to see how much I have matured and the knowledge I have gained in these last two years. I realized this change in myself when I set the goal to step out of my comfort zone by joining various organizations on campus and studying abroad in Tel Aviv, Israel.
A few weeks into my second year, I met with one of my mentors, Azucena. We talked about different organizations that focused on things that interested me. We agreed that I would go to an “interest meeting.” I was happy I did, because I became a member of MEChA (Moviemento Estudiantil Chican@s de Aztlan). I also became part of Oyàte, a Native American Student Organization. Within these two communities, I started to feel like I belonged. This was an important step, not only for my collegiate involvement and academics, but also, because I reconnected with a part of my identity that for some time seemed lost. I no longer felt the need to escape to my dorm room or go back home to my parents. I thank my mentor for helping me step out of my comfort zone and for her support. I do not think I would have done it if it were not for her guidance because it was our conversations that helped me see the possibilities on campus.
Roberto Ramirez, whom I consider a great mentor of LAW SCHOOL…. Si Se Puede, helped me make my decision regarding where I would spend my semester abroad. He challenged me to step outside the traditional study abroad destinations and identify countries I would like to study and, most importantly, WHY I would like to study that country. Before Roberto’s challenge, I had no idea where I would study abroad nor had I thought much about the reasons I would want to study in that setting.
Because the Fall semester of my second year seemed like a time of change for me, I decided to go to a country that would force me out of my comfort zone and help me develop personally, as well as academically. There were multiple viable options but at the end of my research, I decided on Israel. I decided to study abroad in Israel for the following reasons: 1) I wanted to have the opportunity to experience a different style of education. This would allow me to immerse myself in understanding the people, traditions, and culture. 2) I wanted to know how local students are able to learn and succeed in the middle of a political hotbed. 3) Tel Aviv is an ancient city that holds so much history and I was interested to see if the city has shown progress in civilization compared to other cities of similar age.
I found powerful reasons for why I wanted to study in Israel. When people asked me what brought me to Israel, they were intrigued by my explanation because it was not the common response of “Oh, this country is beautiful.” As I wrapped up my semester in Israel, I was thankful for Roberto’s guidance, because my study abroad experience was so much more meaningful and powerful, than if I had just gone with the flow. Stepping out of my comfort zone, made me realize that I am deeply intrigued with “people” and my conversations with the Israeli people helped me understand better the answers to the three reasons I chose to study in Israel.
My goal was not to take pictures in front of every ancient structure, or sit on the balcony reading up on the culture, but simply to interact with the people, whether it was talking to someone in the street, or at a café made up of a varied spectrum of religions and ethnic identities, or picking up as much of the native language as possible, or playing soccer with the Tel Aviv University Women’s Soccer team, or visiting Palestine and trying to make sense of the everyday tension that goes on in this country. My semester abroad was a world-changing experience for me. The knowledge and experiences I have gained go far beyond the borders of this small and fascinating country. I have gained a deeper understanding of the world around me, and my role in it. I do not miss my comfort zone.
A Trip of a Lifetime
August 11, 2015
I did not know what to expect when Judge Arguello told me that I would be attending a conference in San Antonio, Texas to speak about LAW SCHOOL … Sí Se Puede. This not only made me feel excited, but also anxious because I had no idea what to expect. The more I became conscious of what I had heard on the telephone, the more aware I became that I would be traveling with Judge Arguello. She is more than just a role model and an inspiration. She is confirmation that dreams do come true and that Yes, I have the ability to go to San Antonio and represent the LAW SCHOOL … Sí Se Puede Fellows.
During the time I was in San Antonio, I met so many wonderful people who were curious to know what brought me to the HNBA Conference. When I would explain I was only a freshman at CU Boulder in Colorado, I feared that people would lose interest and walk away. Instead, they reached out to me and shared meaningful words of wisdom. It was an honor to have met them and know who they are. And it gave me a sense of pride to speak on behalf of the Fellows in LAW SCHOOL … Sí Se Puede and share my story.
The day I delivered my speech at the HNBA Conference was unforgettable. Judge Arguello told me I would not be using a paper to deliver my speech, I would talk from the heart about my experience in LAW SCHOOL … Sí Se Puede. I felt so much pressure! I was not sure where to start and how to go about my speech. As I began to speak, I managed to make eye contact and deliver a speech that defined who I am and the dreams I have. At that moment, I realized that all the people sitting before me were all there to offer their support to me. I will never forget that opportunity because I met people from all walks of life that were humble and passionate about what they do. I gained the understanding that in order for others to believe in me, I have to believe in myself.
“Sí, Se Puede” is a phrase born of farmworkers, who, under the leadership of the UFW, César Chávez, and Dolores Huerta, fought valiantly for equal protection under the law. As a result of the efforts of the UFW, “Sí, Se Puede” has become well known as a call that engenders hope and inspiration in those who face similar battles. We thank the UFW, whom we acknowledge to be the sole and exclusive owner of the Trademark SI SE PUEDE, for granting us a limited license to use“Sí, Se Puede” in connection with our efforts to recruit, in Colorado, students of Hispanic or Latino descent for our law school pipeline program. For more information about the programs offered by the UFW, please see UFW’s webpage (www.ufw.org); UFW Foundation’s webpage (www.ufwfoundation.org); and UFWF’s immigration services webpage (www.sisepuede.org)