Lydia Maldonado is a second-year student at McGeorge School of Law. 

The Immigration Law Clinic at McGeorge School of Law was something I got involved with because I knew I wanted to help people. I realized that I have a lot of privilege and that I should speak out for those who don’t have as much privilege as I do. I was attracted to the Immigration Law Clinic because I became aware of Sacramento’s diverse population shortly after moving here. I knew that at the Immigration Law Clinic, I could make a huge impact on the community I now call home. When the Director of the Immigration Law Clinic, Blake Nordahl, spoke at orientation, I knew I wanted to be part of the Immigration Law Clinic. Everything seemed to click for me, and I got his information to apply for the position as soon as possible. I was eager to learn more about immigration law and how I could make a difference.

While I did not have any personal experience with the immigration process, I still wanted to learn about this area of the law. My family on my dad’s side is from Puerto Rico, and my grandfather had less than a first-grade education. When he came to the United States (mainland), he wanted his family — including his future grandchildren — to have a better life. I resonate with that part of my family’s history, which ultimately drew me to the Immigration Law Clinic.

Working in the Clinic over the summer was among the most rewarding things of my life. I met clients who have been through unimaginable trauma and yet, they still were grateful for my work and were invested in their cases. They shared their stories with me and trusted me with their case, which was a scary, but transformative experience. I learned so much at the Clinic and cannot wait to continue in the fall semester, so I can see some of my cases through to the end.

One of the many things I learned at the Clinic was interviewing clients, particularly interviewing children. I worked on a few cases over the summer dealing with minors, and it is an entirely different experience to interview a minor than it is to interview an adult. I also learned about writing and submitting motions to the court.

A Clinic memory that stands out to me is working on a motion for weeks, then having it granted by the court. I went to the hearing, and the judge granted what my client needed to move forward in her immigration case. It was absolutely amazing, and I will never forget the experience. I could not have imagined a better place for me to spend my first summer working. The Immigration Law Clinic is something I will cherish for my entire career.

By Lydia Maldonado, a second-year student at McGeorge School of Law.