Networking Not Only in the Field of Law

By Jasmine Luna, Fellow Class of 2014
Regis University

No matter what career path one chooses, it is essential to have mentors to help one network and seek new opportunities.  Since forming part of my high school’s mock trial team, I have had the best mentors, all of whom have provided me with incredible advice and support. This past year I mentioned to my former mock trial coach, Dermot Lynch, that I was interested in majoring in business.  However, I was not completely sure whether I wanted to major in business administration, with an emphasis in finance or international business, or whether I wanted to major in accounting.  

Since Dermot is also on the Board of Directors of LAW SCHOOL … Sí Se Puede, he connected me to Anna Halaburda, a CPA who is also on the Board. I met with Anna at her office and I was able to learn exactly what an accountant does from an accountant herself!  She explained to me that, although both majors I am considering are great options, she could give me her perspective from being an accountant.  I learned that an accountant has a greater opportunity to move up within a company, such as becoming a chief financial officer, rather than being limited to certain paths one may have with a business administration degree.  In addition, accountants critically analyze situations, which is also going to be essential for law school.  Anna also brought to my attention that becoming a CPA also requires an exam, just as law school graduates take the Bar exam.  

After meeting with Anna, I was still confused as to what major would be best for me.  I thought I would think it over through the summer and make the appropriate changes to my schedule for next semester, if I ended up changing my mind.  Fortunately, Anna offered me an internship position to assist her throughout the summer in order to help me decide whether or not accounting would be the right major for me.  This opportunity could not have come at a better time because not only had I had been struggling over the decision as to my major, but also, whether to take a summer course or do something else during the summer.  What better way to make up my mind than from getting personal experience in accounting?  

It has been a few weeks now since I have started my internship and I could not be happier!  From day one, everyone at the office has been nothing but welcoming and helpful.  I am learning something new every day about what an accountant does and what computer software they use.  I began my internship by using the accounting software, Sage 50, to reconcile multiple accounts.  Next, I was taught the whole process of how the online bank statements of companies eventually turn into the information that I reconciled on Sage 50 through a series of steps.  As I begin to gain a better understanding of each task I am assigned, I am being given more and more responsibility.  I am looking forward to seeing how much more I will learn by the end of this summer!  I appreciate that, through this internship, I am given the trust to handle such important accounting processes and data.  I know that I will benefit very much from such an experience, regardless of whether or not I go into accounting.  I am grateful to Dermot for introducing me to Anna, because without that introduction, I would not have had such an amazing opportunity.  I have come to realize how lucky I am to be involved in a program that offers so many connections and networking opportunities to its Fellows.  I am glad to be surrounded by so many people and mentors that not only want to see me succeed, but also, are willing to help me succeed. 

Balance and Opportunity What Do My Mentors Have In Store?

By Alexis Clark, Fellow Class of 2014
Colorado State University

This past school year was challenging overall.  There were some new challenges of trying to balance working full-time with going to school full-time and taking 17 credit hours.  As I think about this past school year, most of my favorite memories have to do with LAW SCHOOL … Sí Se Puede - from being able to tour the Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center and having the opportunity to talk to Chief Justice Nancy Rice, to the last workshop which was similar to a “speed dating” event.  We got to meet so many different lawyers and I got to actually hear, from the lawyers themselves, what they do and their favorite part about their job.  Up until that event, I never wanted to be a prosecutor, but the two lawyers who were at the prosecution table changed my whole mindset about what it meant to be a prosecutor.  I also met two fabulous attorneys who work at the Colorado Attorney General’s office and that sounded like the coolest job in the world.  What I am happiest about, however, is that I gained so much knowledge about the different areas of the law and I met a lawyer who is located in Fort Collins, where I attend college.  I was able to intern with this firm all summer.  Truly, LAW SCHOOL … Sí Se Puede has been one of the best things to happen to me, not just because of the connections and knowledge it has given me, but also, because when all else is not going as planned, I know that my mentors and LAW SCHOOL … Sí Se Puede will have something in store for me that is going to make me happy and excited.  I am super excited to see what LSYWC has planned for the 2014 Fellows as we enter our junior year and it is crunch time for law school.  It is amazing how fast it is come to be and I am just so grateful that I have this program to keep me going. 

The Feeling of Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

By Alma Hinojosa, Fellow Class of 2014
University of Colorado at Boulder

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. 

Perspective after Graduation

By Jesse Zamora, Fellow Class of 2014
University of Colorado at Boulder

College seemed like a distant fantasy when I was a child.  I remember how much my parents emphasized the importance of higher education, although I did not have a true grasp on what that meant.  Fast-forward into the future.  In early May of 2016, I graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in political science.  I never thought commencement ceremonies were compelling enough to make a person feel something, but standing in the stadium in my cap and gown made me feel a sense of pride.  I can look back on my efforts, successes, and failures with gratitude because I now know each moment had a specific purpose that culminated in my moving on to the next step.  Since graduation, I am taking time to reflect on those critical moments.  To know where you are going, you must remember where you come from.   

I began to see that my strongest reasons for going to college had nothing to do with myself.  My reasons centered on my parents, my family, and my community.  It reminded me of my Daniels Fund scholarship interview where I was asked why I wanted to attend college.  I answered, “To show my family and my people that it can be done.”  I remember how empowering it felt to say those words, but I also felt the weight of the responsibility I had accepted.  My undergraduate years are over but I continue to embrace those words as I march into the future.

The perspective the past has given me also gives me a clearer vision of the future and I learned strategic preparation is key to the next endeavor.  Law school is my next great challenge in life that has to be met with more force.  That was when LAW SCHOOL…Sí Se Puede (LSSSP) was introduced to me.  When I saw that LSSSP facilitated LSAT preparation, admissions decisions and strategies, academic performance, and legal career management, I knew it was the team I needed.  The three mentors I have in the program have been extremely helpful in terms of advice, LSAT preparation, professional development, and even emotional support.  They have also given me great insight into different studying practices and step-by-step guidance on how to navigate my way to law school.  The meetings and communication with my mentors are genuine and relatable.  It is not a walk through or crash course, but rather, a real connection based on help, trust, and respect that make my mentors the most invaluable part of the program.  LAW SCHOOL Si Se Puede connects me to resources I need to achieve my life’s milestones.   

I will be studying for the LSAT, working, shadowing, and taking some time to discover new hobbies.  The ultimate goal in any pursuit should be about self-growth.  I must feel that each and every responsibility I take will help me become an improved version of myself.  Nothing worthwhile is easy and no long-term decision should be made lightly.  Law school is a near future goal and LSSSP is my commitment to myself and my community to get there.  There is no teacher like experience but it helps to have experienced mentorship.  I have a new outlook on the future because of the collective support I have combined with my determination to see it through and it makes for a stronger strategy to reach new heights.