Featured Lawtina: Genesis Mercado-Arias

Genesis Mercado-Arias shares a unquie message and reflection with us Jon her celebratory graduation from law school this year of 2019. Congratulations to you and your family, Genesis! Keep thriving! 

“My graduation was the culmination of years of sacrifice and dedication. Not just mine but my parents and family as well. The past couple days have been very reflective for me. I graduated from University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law on May 18, 2019. I look at my nana and I think about how everything had to happen just as it did in order for me to be here and that makes me try harder every day. I learned that my oldest aunt, whom I call nana, was an in-house maid in San Salvador for much of her teen years (like in the movie Roma). She needed a better paying job in the city when her mom passed away and left her with 3 young girls to take care of, including my mother who at the time was 6 years old. You see, everyone is connected. We all contribute to each other in some way.  I would not be here but for my nana’s resilience and work ethic: She was able to send all of my aunts and my mother to the U.S. to begin a new life.

There are millions of stories like mine. I think people forget how hard it is, how much our families have sacrificed and the last thing we want to do is remain stagnant. We want more, we want to be a part of the table and because of our history, I believe nothing will stop us.

Like many first-generation students, my parents immigrated here and graduating law school was no easy feat. I saw my mom sacrifice everything in order to provide for my sisters and I. I decided to go to law school because I saw my mother advocate for the Hispanic community in Kansas and I wanted to do the same. I saw the struggle of not knowing how the legal system worked and I witnessed the limited access minorities had to legal services. I knew that if I wanted to make change and to advocate for it, I needed to be the one writing laws or even better, obtain a law degree.

I knew that if I wanted to create social change, as my mother continues to do, I needed to work hard and go to school longer than I had anticipated. Of course, there are various ways to create change but for me this felt right. Now that I have graduated, I can take this knowledge and use it as I had intended. It seems like a daunting task. However, I know there are millions of first-generation graduates just like me and together, we can uplift the many stories like ours that should be heard. First generation students are the manifestation of years of sacrifice and we’ll forever be inspired to dream and strive for what others deem impossible.

Our experiences amplify and illustrate that our voices have always been a part of the American experience. My mother gave me the name Genesis: the beginning. In this moment, this applies to me more now than ever.”