Featured Lawtina: Melissa Respeto

 

My name is Melissa Respeto, and I am a rising 3L student at St. Thomas University School of Law. I am proud to say that I am a first generation college graduate from Florida International University, a now first generation graduate student, and a soon to be lawyer. My parents are first generation Americans, and the children of Cuban and Chileno immigrants. I am the daughter of a blue collar worker and an administrative assistant, who have done all they can to provide me a better future than they could have ever imagined, a better future than even I could have ever imagined for myself. It is because of them and the sacrifices they made for me to be where I am today, that I can sit here and write this piece. I remember when I was growing up I always wanted to be a lawyer, but when the financial reality of going to college presented itself, going to law school seemed unattainable. There were many times that I doubted myself and what I was capable of, and whether law school was even for me. In the Spring of 2018, I took a chance and applied to law school, not knowing whether I would get in, nor how I was going to manage paying for law school on my own if I did. I was fortunate enough to get accepted into St. Thomas University School of Law, and offered a scholarship my rising 2L year. In my time at St. Thomas Law, I have gone on to become the President of the St. Thomas Law Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, a Staff Editor of the St. Thomas Law Review, a National Champion along with my amazing team in the 2019 Florida National Trial Advocacy Tournament, and the Vice President of Competition for the St. Thomas Law Trial Team. I have interned for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida and the Third District Court of Appeal, learned invaluable skills, and created meaningful relationships with people in the profession who have served as both my mentors and friends. I took a chance on myself and my future and it turned out to be the best decision of my life, but it goes without saying that if it wasn’t for the support of my family along every step of the way, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today, nor anything that I have accomplished so far, have been possible.