Summer Lessons in Real-life Law
Pointed toward law school, Grecia Santos ’20 secured a summer internship at a small immigration law firm in her hometown of Miami. She finds herself immersed in a learning experience far more intense than she’d expected. “Because I thought it would just be looking at laws and reading very dry language, but what we’re dealing with is people talking about the experiences that they had in their home countries, why they left, the fear that they have, hope that they can stay here and rebuild their lives. It’s just very emotional at times,” Santos explains.
Majors: Women's and Gender Studies, French and Francophone Studies
High School: School for Advanced Studies
She helps two paralegals at the firm, primarily working with clients who seek legal residency status in the U.S. for relatives or themselves. She tackles mountains of forms, translates documents from Spanish to English and vice versa, and recently had her first meeting with clients. They are a married couple, with the husband seeking residency status. Santos felt good about helping them.
“Their application had been completed, we were about to send it off, and they were signing it. And I had to translate a lot of the things that we had written up because they provided the information, and we just put it all together. It was a stack of like 300 papers right in front of them, and they were just so overwhelmed at everything,” Santos says.
The internship has cemented her interest in immigration issues. Whether or not she goes into immigration law, Santos suspect she’ll do pro bono work for immigrants. All told, she says, the summer experience has been an important part of her overall education. “I’m a women’s and gender studies major,” she says, “so I naturally am always thinking about the role that women have in the world and minorities in general, people of color. Just seeing right up front the struggles that these people go through, I feel the major that I chose really helps me out here.”