First-year UCI Law student and CHC graduate Adriana Perera has always known she wanted to pursue a career in law. In her childhood, she was “constantly emotionally compelled to fairness.” Going into adulthood, the driving factors that encouraged Adriana to pursue law were the ways “that the legal system can be used to produce positive societal change, the numerous unique career paths within the field, and the interconnectedness to others.” She states, “I pursued law because I believed I could make effective change for individuals who had been harmed.”
During her time as an undergraduate at UCI, Adriana volunteered with UCI Law’s Saturday Academy of Law, in which she recognized that the school cares for the community and is passionate about using the legal system for impactful public interest work. Additionally, after working as a legal assistant in Santa Ana, she became hopeful to serve the Orange County area and its most vulnerable populations through the practice of law. Ultimately, Adriana chose UCI to pursue her Juris Doctor degree because of “its community-centered approach to lawyering, as well its dedication to experiential learning.”
As a first-generation undergraduate student, Adriana took advantage of the many resources provided by Student Success Initiatives to assist with navigating college and applying to professional school. Now, as a law student, Adriana has found the resources provided by the First Generation Professionals organization to be helpful. The organization hosts events to help first-gen students navigate the uncertainties of law school, as well as provide resources to alleviate the socio-economic hardships that first-gen students face.
Thus far, the greatest experience of Adriana’s law journey has been her pro bono projects. She has been able to assist individuals in Afghanistan who are seeking protection from the Taliban to navigate the legal procedures of immigration and obtaining refugee status. Serving in this capacity has encouraged Adriana to keep pursuing her legal degree to better assist those in need. Another milestone in Adriana’s law journey thus far is finishing her first semester of law school and receiving a few awards for high grades. “…I recognize that I could not have accomplished this without the academic opportunities I had received throughout my life, the support of my family and friends, and my faith.”
The Campuswide Honors Collegium, Adriana says, has also helped her prepare for a career in law. “The interdisciplinary and vigorous nature of the classes that I took as a CHC student not only helped me develop strong study habits but also expanded my knowledge about various topics that further persuaded me to pursue a legal career and have enhanced my understanding of legal issues both in and outside the classroom,” Adriana remarks. Additionally, through events such as Coffee Hour, she was able to develop professional skills and learn to network. Most importantly, Adriana believes the CHC staff and her peers have further motivated and encouraged her to not only pursue her goals but to also center her aspirations around achieving social good and working to make effective change.
Adriana offers a final piece of advice for students: “I would advise current students to create a healthy balance between academics, extra-curricular activities, professional experience, and well-being. As students, our goal is to learn and expand our horizons, and I feel like we can do this best when we focus on holistic development. In my experience, having extracurricular and service activities that I am passionate about inspires me to apply the lessons I learned in the classroom to real-world situations while engaging in active rest from school work.”
In her spare time, Adriana enjoys long-distance running, spending quality time with her family and friends, playing with her dogs, volunteering with her Church, and participating in faith-based activities. Connect and get to know Adriana more by visiting her LinkedIn or by watching her Campuswide Honors Chapter Alumni Spotlight feature where she talks about her path to law school and the reality of what law school is like.
Contributed by Angie Sarabia