Four months ago, the looming post law school life had me stressed out.
Four months ago, I was applying for a fellowship to fund a job in an area of law that I actually wasn't that interested in.
Four months ago, I was burned out from three years of studying executory interests, adverse possession, and other tedious topics that were far removed from my desire to pursue justice by advocating for people in poverty.
Four months ago, there was that long phone conversation with my wise parents where I vented my frustrations with law school and the immediate future. They challenged me to pray and by "pray" they meant to tell God exactly what was on my heart, give it all to Him, trust Him to guide me, and then stop thinking about it.
And that's what I did.
If you had told me four months ago that today I would be advocating for undocumented immigrants, teaching an art class to inner-city kids, writing grants for an awesome nonprofit, and incubating my first child, I would have have smirked and responded, "You must know me very well because that sounds like my dreams turned to reality."
Long story short, I didn't receive the fellowship that, on paper, I should have gotten, got a temporary part time job working with an incredible immigration attorney at a large well-reputed nonprofit law firm, and started volunteering extensively with a local community organization... aka started hanging out with awesome kids like this cutie:
Let me give you a few more details about my job and my volunteering:
I volunteer two days per week at a faith-based community organization just a few miles from my home. It's literally on the other side of the tracks. I get to mentor/tutor young elementary kids, teach art to K-6 kids, capture the kids' adorableness for the newsletters, and I am just beginning to write grants for the organization in hopes of getting them some major chunks of change to help them do more of the awesome work they do in the city.
The best job I ever had was working at a similar nonprofit on skid row, though my current paying job [see below] is now a strong contender for the "Best Job I've Ever Had" award. I have really enjoyed getting back to working with kids through this local nonprofit.
My law firm's sixty attorneys and several thousand pro bono attorneys do fantastic social justice work throughout the county of Los Angeles. I work with the Immigrants' Rights Project.
On Tuesdays, I do U Visas. Prior to legislation passing, undocumented immigrants who were victims of crime had to choose between reporting the crime to the police and risking deportation or keeping quiet and staying in the U.S. Today, an undocumented immigrant who is the victim of a crime and who is helpful to the police can apply for the U Visa thereby protecting themselves from deportation and giving them hope for the future.
I love this law because (1) it makes society safer for us all when undocumented immigrants, there are millions in this country, can report crimes and (2) it protects a particularly vulnerable section of our society by giving them legal status, a work permit, and access to justice for the crimes they've experienced. (Relevant side note: I believe undocumented immigrants have a special place in God's heart. If you don't believe me, do a little search on all the times God talks about loving the foreigner and alien among us.)
To give you an idea of who my clients are: Most of them are monolingual Spanish speakers (Yes, I get to speak Spanish!) from Mexico and Central America and the crimes they have experienced are horrific... attempted murder, human trafficking, rape, domestic violence, and sexual assault to name the few I've seen.
On Thursdays, I help staff a clinic for undocumented teens and young adults who qualify for "deferred action" under the DREAM Act legislation that Obama passed this summer. These young people were brought to the U.S. by their parents, most barely remember the country they are from, and they all have dreams of having legal status to be able to work and travel and not fear deportation from the only country they really know. I help these young people apply for the two year legal protection created this past summer. Google it if you want to know more.
It is truly an honor to work with my clients, both the victims of crime and the young people who are so hopeful about their future ever since this new law passed. I love providing them with something tangible (legal status) that will help them as they move forward in life.
Looking back four months ago and looking at where I am now doing work that is so me, I am constantly thanking and praising God for His guidance. I have seen and experienced that He is the Good Shepherd just as He said.