Puerto Rican law student hopes to open doors for others

Delmarie Alicea 2I never imagined that I would be 34 years old and a mother of two when I applied to law school. It has been an unexpected path, which I initially did not understand and then met with resistance. My parents were born in rural Puerto Rico. Barranquitas is a picturesque small town rich in traditions, culture, and above all the warmth of its people, but weak in economic opportunity. My grandparents were illiterate, and my parents did not have the guidance or support to pursue a higher education. They were, however, very active in ensuring that both my sister and I would have that chance. They moved to the metropolitan area of Puerto Rico and made great sacrifices so that I could attend private school. My peers were mostly affluent children, and I lacked some of their advantages, but at school, I was judged only by my academic accomplishments. I realized that education is the ultimate equalizer, and that gave me the confidence to work hard and strive for success.

After the third time our home was burglarized, it was evident that we could no longer stay on our beloved island. I had never flown on a plane and did not anticipate that the first time I did so, it would be to leave all I knew behind. Puerto Ricans that live on the island refer to the United States as “aya afuera”, which translates to “over there in the outside”. I felt like an outsider the second I boarded the plane. My poor English, simple clothes, and glasses made me a magnet for bullies. I knew I had to learn the language quickly if I had any hope of fitting in. I used my frustrations as fuel, applied myself and within a year I was taken out of ESOL and placed in gifted classes. I graduated high school, but soon became a mom and had to put my schooling on hold.

I worked my way up in a prominent law firm and shortly after I was a litigation paralegal. I was inspired to retake my studies, and I am currently in the top third of my law school class. I wish to inspire other Hispanics to overcome their obstacles and crush stereotypes to be whatever they dream. My journey to law school could not have been more different than I had planned, and the reasons why I have a passion for this career have dramatically changed. Now, to me it’s evident that I will be an even more successful law student and lawyer due to the experiences I have amassed, the perseverance I have developed, and the motivation to inspire my children to follow their dreams and fulfill their purpose no matter what curves life throws their way.

Obtaining this degree will be a personal fulfillment, but more importantly is the work I will be able to do and the doors I will be able to open for others.

We are proud to announce Delmarie Alicea is one of the current LatPro Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column) and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.

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