By Karina Gonzalez, Fellow Class of 2018
Colorado State University
My grandfather was a field worker in California who worked tirelessly with little pay to provide for his family of fourteen with hope that one day his children would be given the opportunity to obtain a higher education. My immigrant parents, amongst my ancestors, have endured exploitation of cheap labor and inequality for years on end. I have made it a personal goal of mine to be my ancestors’ successor by becoming an attorney to correct overdue injustices.
When I first heard of Law School Yes We Can (LSYWC) I immediately applied. This program gave me four amazing mentors ranging from law students to a judicial law clerk, and a Colorado Supreme Court Justice. There are a lack of words that can fully describe my appreciation for them. The wisdom, backgrounds, charisma, determination, and passion that each individual brings to the table is phenomenal. I am given the opportunity to meet with my mentors for lunch once a month and am able to speak with them all for hours on end. I have never felt more inspired and accepted in the time spent with them than I have in my entire educational career. Fostering and growing my friendship with this team has and always will provide the best support system I have to guide me throughout life.
In particular, my mentors go out of their way to reassure me in times of struggle. My second year, fall semester, was really difficult for me. At home, my father was recovering from a severe car accident that caused him to be out of work for several months. My older brother got charged with serious offenses, and my mother owned a large sum of debt. I struggled trying to balance my personal life and my academics. Unfortunately, school wasn’t any better than home.
Majoring in Ethnic Studies with minors in Political Science and Interdisciplinary Law at Colorado State University is challenging. It is incredibly eye-opening taking Ethnic Studies courses because students are taught about the real history not just the master narrative society wants you to believe. It is great but emotionally draining at the same time because students are exposed to generational traumas. In my Political Science courses, I was one of two minorities in the entire lecture hall. I felt as though I had nothing to contribute and felt out of place because I had no prior experiences with politics unlike my classmates. Receiving a finals week care package from my mentors after doing two all-nighters brought tears to my eyes. Freshman year, I remember looking down my hall and seeing everyone receive a care package from their families, and I knew I would not get one because my parents never heard of them. As I read my mentors personalized letter, I found the strength to finish the semester strong. The lunches throughout the semester gave me the opportunity to see that my end goal was going to be worth all the current stress.
In conclusion, there is no doubt in my mind that if it were not for this program, more specifically my mentors, I would have lost sight of my dreams and fell into a world of self-pity and pain. I am thankful for everything I have been given, and I will continue to work hard towards my college degree and ultimately my law degree. I am proud to be a fellow of Law School Yes We Can (LSYWC) and cannot wait to become my ancestors’ successor.