Featured Lawtina: Carmen Izquierdo-Olivia

​“My parents immigrated to the United States from Central America seeking better opportunities and better lives. As the daughter of immigrant parents and the youngest of five, I always felt the pressure of making my family proud, but that very pressure became my motivation in pursuing a career in law. In May 2015, I graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A. in English and Political Science. Before attending law school, I worked at a dispute resolution firm as an Assistant Case Manager, and I got married to my sweetheart. Today, I am a second year law student at Pepperdine Law.

At Pepperdine, I am part of Law Review, President of the Latinx Law Student Association, and Secretary for the National Lawyers Guild. Additionally, this past summer, I had the unique opportunity to extern for the Hon. André Birotte, Jr. in the United States District Court for the Central District of California as part of the Mexican American Bar Association’s Federal Judicial and Externship Program. I was also selected as a scholarship recipient for the Mexican American Bar Foundation Endowment Scholarship Fund. These accomplishments mean the world to me, especially as a Latina who came from a low-income family and grew up in South Los Angeles, always steering away from gangs, drugs, and alcohol.

Most recently, I was featured in the LA Times discussing the struggles with law school debt. Being in law school and coming from a low-income family is not easy. Being in the first in your family to do anything higher education related is not easy. Like I said, it is a huge pressure, but at the same time the greatest motivation in pursuing my dreams.

Next year, I will be working as a summer associate at a big law firm, another huge accomplishment that I am grateful for. Upon graduation, I hope to work at a law firmwhere I can grow and learn from the best civil litigation attorneys, whilst taking full advantage of pro-bono programs through which I can assist marginalizedcommunities, such as immigrants seeking asylum – a community that is near and dear to my heart. In the future, I look forward to giving back to my community by starting a scholarship fund for underrepresented students like myself. I have received in abundance, and for that I am grateful, and plan to give back in abundance.

Congratulations on all your accomplishments, Carmen! You’re an inspiration. Thank you for sharing with us and we hope more students are motivated to rise above their circumstances.

“While I have a great story to tell, there are a few things I would tell my younger self if I could speak to her. One of the things that students like myself – first-generation students – often deal with, but no one really talks about, is mental health. A part of that is having an imposter syndrome beginning in college. Doubting yourself, thinking you won’t make it, telling yourself you’re not good enough, that you’ll let your family down, etc. These are all lies that mess with your head. It’s not often that I tell myself that I am beautiful, strong, and smart. In law school, this gets worse, because you compete with students that are on their A-game 24/7. It’s hard. But every single time I have told myself I wouldn’t make it, starting from high school up until now, I have actually made it and more. So I’d tell that little girl to believe in herself, be more confident about who she is, never lose her faith, because one day the world will see all the wonderful things she’s capable of. I would tell her that no matter the mental, emotional, social, and financial struggles she will face, everything will work out. No matter what anyone says, as long as she sets her mind to it, she will reach her dreams.”