2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Michelle Mora Rueda
Michelle Mora Rueda
As the U.S.-born daughter of immigrant parents, I know all too well how difficult it can be for immigrants to start a life in the United States, and I understand that it is often an immigrant’s desire to offer her children and family a better life that makes her embark on such a challenging journey. By the time I began law school, I had a strong desire to work with immigrants, and when I started volunteering as an interpreter for an Equal Justice Works attorney working with immigrant women and children, I knew that I had found my passion. All too often, these women and children were victims of domestic violence or other gender violence, too afraid or unaware of the possibility of seeking legal protection to access the rights afforded them in immigration law. Consequently, they risked not knowing how they could remain in the United States with their family and keep the lives they had worked so hard to establish. After three months of interpreting, I knew I had to do more than just volunteer; my family had gained protections under immigration law that allowed them to offer me the opportunity of a better life in the United States, now my goal, through this project, is to ensure that other immigrant families are offered the same opportunity.
Making the connection:
Through my previous volunteer work, I realized how many people lack access to legal representation and the knowledge that they can seek protection within the legal system.
Surviving law school:
Talk to your family, or someone outside of law school; they are the best cheerleaders when you are feeling overwhelmed. Volunteer in something you never considered. I interpreted for victims of domestic and gender violence seeking immigration relief; it is the best thing I have ever done.
“Love in Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, for the beauty of words; “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, for Elizabeth's tenacity; and “The Godfather” by Mario Puzzo, because “it’s not personal [Sonny], it’s strictly business.”