First in the Family

By Cendy de la Torre, Fellow Class of 2015
University of Colorado at Boulder

“Aren’t you scared of not going back to school?” I have heard this time and time again as my undergraduate graduation approaches and I have made the decision to take a break before applying to law school. At first, I found it quite offensive as these comments were coming from very close family members whose opinions I greatly value. I was hurt by their responses because I thought they knew me better than that. I figured that they would understand I was not taking a break because I have settled with my bachelor’s degree or because I have given up on becoming an attorney, but rather because I want to take time to recharge and to also study for the LSAT exam in order to excel once I retake it. Of course, I thought this with the assumption that they would just “get it,” but I failed to remember that this experience has been new for all of us. Not only am I a first-generation student, but we are a first generation family. 

I acted quickly on the uncertainty I felt and recalled the advice my mentors and Judge Arguello gave me. I recalled they told me law school would be like nothing I’ve done before, and that it is important to feel not only academically but also mentally ready for the journey. When I told my team that I would not be immediately applying to law school, they did not respond with questions but rather with opportunities for great job experiences to look into while I take my “break.” Not only did I feel reassured, but I felt supported as I began my job application process as a college graduate. 

Their immediate understanding made me trust in my decision more and validated my desire to take time for myself. When no one in your family has a legal career, it is hard to find your way without a mentor. It is not impossible as Judge Arguello, and my wonderful mentors Cristina, Luis, and CiCi are all testaments that it is possible to have a successful career within law without having someone to lead the way. I am blessed that I do not have to do this alone as I have their guidance and support. I am thankful that with this program I have the support to be the first in my family to become an attorney, but I will not be the last.