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Capital Connections: What I Learned from a Week With Future Latino Leaders

This summer, I had a life-changing experience at the Future Latino Leaders Law Camp at American University in Washington, D.C. When my counselor, Ms. Ashwood, told me about this camp, I knew I had to apply because it’s my dream to become a lawyer. I was on my way to school this spring when I received my acceptance letter—and screamed from excitement! I was one of 30 students nationally selected by the program, and I received a full scholarship to attend.

I arrived on campus with my dad on Saturday, July 16. At this camp, all of the counselors are law students, and, like me, all of them are Hispanic. That first day, we chatted about the LSAT and what law school was like. Everyone was so friendly. I was sad when my dad left campus, but by that evening, I had made friends and met many different people. I knew I would have an incredible week.

Our schedule was packed with activities. For the first two days, we visited important sites like the Library of Congress, the Lincoln Memorial, the Supreme Court, and the U.S. Capitol Building. Our first trip was to the Washington Monument, where I first realized how much I would learn from our counselors. A counselor named Sal told us he was born and raised in Mexico and came to the United States when he was very young. He dreamed of becoming President of the United States, but his classmates doubted this dream, especially because Sal was an undocumented immigrant. Sal worked hard in school and was admitted to college. He decided to become a public service lawyer so he could help represent undocumented people. I was inspired by Sal, because I might also pursue a career in public service law.

Later that day, we learned more about what it would take to become a lawyer like Sal. College and law school aren’t cheap, so we visited a law firm, where we received advice about financial aid, scholarships, and admissions that I know will help me in the future — and I also enjoyed the amazing food they served!

Toward the end of the program, we attended the Hispanic National Bar Foundation Gala. One of our counselors, Denise, gave a speech explaining some of the challenges she had overcome—her family didn’t have a lot of money and she didn’t have access to many opportunities that would help her achieve her dream of attending college and becoming a lawyer. Her struggles reminded me of my own. Denise had to fight for every opportunity she had, but she ultimately attended college on a full scholarship.

Later, I introduced myself to Denise and told her about my dream of becoming a lawyer. When I asked her to be my mentor, her face lit up. She said she would be honored. I think Denise will be a great resource for me as I apply to college and, one day, law school.

I am so inspired by the stories that I heard from my counselors who have travelled the road to law school. The biggest thing I learned during this program is to keep pushing. The more you push for your goals and aspirations, the more likely you are to achieve them.

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