On May 15, 2019, the First-Generation Graduation Dinner for the Class of 2019 was held, hosted by Devin Kinyon, Associate Clinical Professor and Director of the Office of Academic & Bar Success and Dori Pina, Associate Clinical Professor and Director of the Externship Program. Santa Clara Law had a total of 52 graduates this year who are the first in their families to obtain a higher education. Judge Shelyna Brown JD ’96 of the Santa Clara County Superior Court spoke, and Maria Palomares JD ’19 was the graduate speaker.
“We have all faced obstacles to get to law school and to make it through. The journey to add J.D. to our names wasn’t linear. There were moments of doubt and uncertainty followed by reward and satisfaction. For me, the doubt began even before the first day of law school. I remember reading Pennoyer v. Neff in preparation of Civil Procedure with Professor Jimenez and thinking, “If this is what all the cases will be like, I don’t know if I can do it.” Then came the rewarding moment when I finally understood what the case was about. And of course, a couple days later came the sad moment when we learned that Pennoyer v. Neff was overturned. However, the doubt permeated deeper than moments when we didn’t understand a case. There were moments in class when classmates shared that they came from a lineage of lawyers and professionals, whose parents were partners at such and such firms and friends with such and such person. In those moments, I remember thinking to myself, I don’t come from a family like that, I can’t call my dad and ask him to explain a legal theory to me? My parents don’t have friends and connections like that. Maybe I don’t belong…Thankfully, there were people at Santa Clara who were willing to lend a listening ear, mentor us, and help us make a networking connection.” – Maria Palomares JD ’19