Jose Torres: 2009 Update

I have come to understand, through my mentoring experience, that on our campus great things are happening in regards to the Latino community. Through my involvement on campus, I have been able to meet peers from the Latino community who are great leaders within the student body and who are sure to be among the next generation of leaders in the greater community. It has become apparent that indeed we need to celebrate these accomplishments and seek to let others know so that we become role models for those coming after us. As I have gone through the mentorship I have realize that it is not an easy thing for minorities to make it to graduate schools. I knew that this was true before but I now understand that we have a responsibility to break through and bring someone else along. My mentor has a very inspiring story and to hear about her background lets me know that there is something to celebrate when barriers are overcome. This goes beyond celebrating personal goals. The victory is for all the community in which someone's success is everyone's success. This is the kind of community bond that I have grown up with and is one that gets lost in the whole college world. I have been very lucky in finding this kind of connection with my mentor and the larger minority community on campus again. I understand that we are all equal and all have great potential but for some the road towards achieving this has been longer. I am proud to have found this connection on our campus and this inspires me to continue to not only further my education but to also do it in such a way that keeps in tune the integrity of my values. With the college experience, it is easy to feel alienated from your family who has no idea what it feels to be going to college. Your sense of belonging is at times in question in both school and at home. However, being able to speak to my mentor about these things and about the way in which we both deal with them has worked out well. Being understanding towards family is key but it is also important to ensure that I communicate effectively with my family about what I do at school and what my goals are even if they are not completely on board or feel as though I am not dedicating enough time to them.

This semester took me on a journey of identifying the reasons why law school is a definite plan for me. I am not only passionate about learning the ways laws help construct our communities but also about how we can make our justice system work towards more equality in our education system. I have determined to become an attorney because a law degree in combination with an education in public policy will give me the necessary skills and understanding to figure out effective solutions that are viable to implement in our cities. I want to work in the field of public policy because this is where we need to start making concrete changes so that we are truly opening doors for all communities and allowing them an equal opportunity to succeed. I believe we need to start with our k-12th grade education and determine effective ways to improve that system within our local school districts. Earning a law degree will prepare me for this challenge. I know that helping in this cause will help in opening opportunities for students from my community to go to college and let them be confident that they belong. Furthermore, working towards achieving a better quality education in our elementary through high schools is a secure way of enabling all communities to become their own best advocates. This is needed because, through mentors, I have learned that there are many defenseless people out there who are fearful about standing up for themselves. This is because they lack a sense of legitimacy. This is where I see my call of duty. I know that attending college is a life changing experience that has large implications in terms of life style, perspective, and a person's future family generations. For this reason, it is important for me to be well skilled in the area of law so that I have a complete understanding of the range of possibilities and limits of our legal system when applied to the challenges in our communities. I want to do this because I still see much inequality in our cities and in our state. Our campus, for example, is a place that is diverse but is still not perfect. Our student government assembly is not too familiar with the issues that affect minority students. At the end of the day, this assembly makes decisions based on their own understanding of things. This is the kind of thing that I am seeing minority students on our campus trying to change and is something that we for sure need to do at the city and state level as well. I know the best way for me to proactively help usher in needed solutions is by helping minority communities acquire the tools they need to change their lives. I can best do this by becoming an attorney and gaining experience in diverse areas of law.

As I start the application process for admission, I am mostly surprised by the amount of time that it takes to figure out what schools are a good fit for you. Picking a school is much more than taking into account academics. When making a list of potential schools to apply to I have come to understand that it is important to get a feel for the culture of the school and what it is that the school is offering you. For example, there is a difference between a school that offers you the benefit of prestige and one that is less prestigious but promises to prepare you well for the actual jobs that are out there. For me, it is important to find a balance between the two. I need a school that will be open minded and flexible to teach to the needs of the society and world our generation is inheriting. As I get closer to my goal of making it into law school I keep in mind our current leaders like Pete Gallegos and Ted Cruz. I respect their work and want to make sure I am fully equipped to continue and further their goals for our community. I want to ensure that I will be able to step up and be a leader because they cannot do it on their own.

The IE program has taught me to keep my goals firm and have vision to ensure success in creative ways. This program has been a learning experience that has shown me the value of pursuing more education and in addition has allowed my to find a good friend in my mentor.