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LLM Human Rights and Social Justice, Columbian

Living in the USA now for just over a decade, I look back at where I came from, my homeland, Colombia, with great affection. Even here in the USA, I am defined by the fact that I am not just a Latina, but a ‘Colombian-American’ woman. Not all is wonderful about the land from whence I came since it is perhaps the most historically violent of all Latin American countries, at least except Mexico. Social injustice has been widespread in Colombia throughout its history, including when I was growing up. My father is the primary role model and inspiration for my dedication to Law. As an attorney with a social consciousness, living in a very violent society, I was born into and raised in a sort of dangerous adventure, of survival, change, and almost constant fear, which people seldom talked about.

I initially came to the USA in 2005 after finishing my undergraduate studies in Law in Colombia, primarily to improve my English. I thought that it would make me more competitive in the job market when I returned. My parents had divorced, which added to the economic strain. Conveniently, I had an aunt in Stamford, Connecticut, who I lived with for the first year and a half of total English immersion. Soon, I would meet the wonderful man with whom I would start my family, and I am now a US citizen with a very supportive husband who adores and helps me care for our three beautiful little boys. Thus, I feel that I have the time, space, maturity, energy, and drive to excel as a graduate student in Law here in America. The LL.M in Human Rights and Social Justice at the University of XXXX is my first and only choice for graduate school because I do not want to study online; instead, I am keenly looking forward to the traditional classroom experience as a law student. This is especially true, I think, because of the area in which I seek to learn the most, human rights, and I look forward to interacting with students from around the world at UC to share their human rights stories and ideas.

I hope very much to earn the LLM Degree with a focus on Human Rights and Social Justice at UX so that I will be able to maximize my contribution at my place of current employment, serving as a Family Violence Victim Advocate. Over the past decade living in Connecticut, with each passing year, I see more and more recent immigrants who are primarily, if not exclusively, Spanish-speaking. The need is great for bilingual specialists who are well trained to help these people. Many of my clients come here as wives and do not know the man to whom they are married very well before they come here. Often the age difference is significant. Many feel trapped and helpless when the relationship goes sour, and the man becomes violent, finding themselves at considerable risk with nowhere to turn.

There is a huge Latino population in the area that we serve, and it pleases me greatly that I have the opportunity to use my Spanish every day at work, on the telephone as well as directly with Spanish-speaking clients. I translate for clients at court proceedings or during our monthly legal clinics when clients meet with pro bono Attorneys to get free consultations about family, civil and criminal issues.  At the Agency where I am currently working, we have a program called Esperanza (Hope), that is targeted to Latino clients - a 24/7 Spanish Language Hotline for victims of Domestic Violence that also includes a Spanish webpage with community resources and 24/7 chat. We also run weekly Spanish support groups for Latino clients, and I personally have been giving presentations concerning the rights of victims of a crime. 

During the last year of my studies in Law at the Sabana University in Colombia, I volunteered for a free legal clinic providing services to low-income residents in the areas of conflict mediation and labor law. This was an excellent opportunity for me to interact with a diverse population, practice my compassion, and listen to the issues of those who are underserved in terms of legal representation. I look forward now to continuing to learn as a volunteer as well as a student at UX and taking advantage of the vast Public Service opportunities that exist at the University of Connecticut, including partnerships with organizations based in Hartford.

My ultimate dream job would be to someday work for the United Nations in the area of empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality. Returning to Colombia at some point in a professional capacity would be delightful, or Latin America, more generally speaking. There is much work to be done in Latin America in response to horrific levels of violence against women – an issue that has only recently begun to be addressed.

I thank you for your consideration of my application to the University of XXXX.

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