The Latino Law Student Association at the University of Florida Levin College of Law organized its first Hispanic Heritage Week as a part of Hispanic Heritage Month. Among other events, LLSA coordinated the Latinas in the Law Panel to celebrate successful Latinas in the legal profession and their achievements.
Professor Silvia Menendez, Judge Susan Miller-Jones and Professor Berta Esperanza Hernández-Truyol formed the panel. Christine Alvarez moderated the discussion.
Born in Cuba and raised in Puerto Rico, Hernández-Truyol explained that, for her, what it means to be Latina has grown over time.
“I did not become Latina as a political identity until after I came here,” she said. “I did not grow up thinking I was another.”
As a Latina, Hernández-Truyol’s path to success was not an easy one. After being stereotyped and discouraged, Hernández-Truyol managed to be the only Latina in her law school out of 272 students.
Menendez is originally from Baltimore, Maryland, but her father is from the Dominican Republic. While she never thought she would end up in Gainesville, Menendez adapted in the past to being in different states, having now passed three state bar exams.
“You find experiences and opportunities,” Menendez said. “So wherever you end up, find something, and take advantage of it.”
Judge Miller-Jones, a UF alumna, is also no stranger to Hispanic culture. She grew up in a Miami household her father liked to call “little Nicaragua,” which led her to embrace the Latina in her. While growing up in Miami helped her stay true to herself, Miller-Jones further highlighted the importance of carrying on who you are.
“We’re better lawyers when we remember who we are and where we came from,” she said.
To find out more about the Latino Law Student Association and the events being hosted for the rest of the week, visit their Facebook page.